MBW’s World Leaders is a regular series that spotlights the most influential industry figures who oversee key international markets. In this special issue, that’s all Davis, Head of A&R for Africa at Sony Music Publishing. W.orld Leaders is supported by PPL.
Wale Davis has held various roles in the music industry.
One half of Nigerian rap duo Show Dem Camp, Davies (aka Tec) has over 400,000 monthly listeners and millions of streams on Spotify.
Show Dem Camp brings together artists from across the continent, from Nigeria-based artist Oxlade (5.9 million monthly listeners on Spotify) to Grammy-winning Nigerian singer and producer Tems (14 million monthly listeners on Spotify). We’ve been collaborating with the biggest new stars.
“We have pioneered a lot of alternative sounds coming out of the continent, primarily Nigeria,” says Davis of Show Dem Camp.
“We are proud of the important role we have played in introducing many new artists to the present and future of the African music scene through our music.”
Beyond his artistic career, Davis works as an artist manager, co-managing Tems with Muiwa Ahoney.
He is also a successful video and film director (Sundance Award winner for short film) lizard) and founder of the Lagos-based media and production company Fatherland.
He says making music played a key role in his successful and diverse career as an executive at an entertainment company.
“Through making music, I gained a unique perspective and helped guide and shape the careers of artists, primarily in my role as an artist manager and later as another executive in the music industry,” Davis said. I will explain.
In addition to his long list of achievements in the industry, Davis is also a prominent publishing executive, serving as Head of A&R for Africa at Sony Music Publishing.
SMP has recently expanded across the African continent. Last August, SMP expanded its operations by opening a new office in Lagos, Nigeria. The office was headed by Godwin Tom, Managing Director, reporting directly to Guy Henderson, SMP International President.
In 2021, Sony Music Publishing South Africa will become Gallo Music, the publishing arm of the Gallo Records Company (founded in 1926), one of Africa’s largest and oldest independent major labels. Signed a global (excluding Africa) deal with Publishers.
And in January of this year, SMP held its first West African songwriting camp in Accra, Ghana, led by Davis.
The camp brought together a variety of songwriters from around the world including Tems, Ladipoe, Lojay, Guiltybeatz, Ozedikus, AV, Berwyn, Moon Willis, Johnny Coffer and Rymez.
The week-long event featured themed conversations and workshops, including a discussion around 50 Intersections.th Anniversary of the art of hip hop and rap. Featuring Show Dem Camp’s Davies (aka Tec) and his Nigerian rap star Ladipoe.
Here, Wale Davis discusses a career in music, Sony Music Publishing’s strategy for Africa, and hip-hop predictions from content.
What have been your career highlights so far leading up to your appointment as Head of A&R for Africa at SMP?
My career so far has been full of highlights and great moments.
If I had to narrow it down, as artists at Show Dem Camp (pictured), it’s incredible to see the community we’ve grown and the incredible fans who have helped us fill out venues around the world.
“In my role as manager of the Thames, it has definitely been a highlight to see her grow and develop at an incredible rate, and to be a part of that journey.”
In my role as manager of Tems, watching her grow and develop at an incredible rate and being a part of that journey has definitely been a highlight. With so many great achievements in a short period of time, Tems is a source of inspiration for all of us.
Since joining Sony Music Publishing, I have been fortunate enough to sign some of the most important figures in the new generation of African music, from Guiltybeatz to Tems, Lojay, Ladipoe, AV and producer Lekaa Beats. and we were able to work closely together. SMP has a strong footprint on the continent with existing members (Sarkody, Naira Marley, Dj Maphorisa and London).
What are Sony Music Publishing’s ambitions in Africa?
We focus on supporting and educating SMP songwriters across the continent, giving them the tools and resources they need to succeed. By building a strong foundation for our local songwriting community, we are able to provide them with a high level of creative support. We also focus on global collaboration opportunities to give SMP Africa songwriters a seat at the international table.
Where are the fastest growing markets across Africa today?
In addition to Nigeria and South Africa, which continue to be creative centers, countries such as Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania are also showing significant growth. It’s been incredible to see and hear what’s going on and we believe these markets will continue to grow. evolution.
You hosted the first West African Songwriting Camp in Ghana in January. How was the camp and how important is an event like this to Sony Music Publishing’s A&R strategy?
The 1st Ghana Song Camp was an important experience for our team and songwriters and helped set the tone for future SMP events across the region.
As an A&R, my approach is to create spaces for talented people to create together and make lasting connections. It was a very satisfying experience to see so many talented people from all over the continent working, building relationships and making great music together over the course of the week.
We want to actively create records and put people in the right rooms. In a data-driven world, I truly believe that music comes first.
Tell us about the genres and business trends you see in the publishing industry.
I think the impact of data as a key tool for identifying new songwriters is shaping the current conversation about songwriter discovery.
These tools have given publishers far more insight and visibility into different markets and geographies they may have previously ignored due to lack of access. Improving these tools will provide even more insight and shine a light on songwriters in emerging regions.
Can you tell us about the trajectory of hip-hop’s growth, especially in Africa? What trends do you see?
Genres merge, and we see hip-hop artists experimenting more with African sounds. We are also witnessing a resurgence of hip-hop across the continent.
Artists like Ladipoe (Nigeria), Blaqbonez (Nigeria), Blxckie (SA) and Black Sherif (Ghana) are creating new sounds and redefining what continental hip-hop sounds like.
What are your predictions for the future of African hip-hop, and what are your predictions for the future of Africa-based hip-hop songwriters and artists on the world stage?
I believe that African hip-hop is making inroads. As more genres on the African continent take center stage, a talented generation of hip-hop songwriters and artists will join the conversation.
Rapper and SMP songwriter Ladipaw has set Spotify’s most-streamed songs in Ghana and Nigeria in 2021, but this is only the beginning of African hip-hop artists breaking into mainstream consciousness. do not have.
Where are the biggest opportunities and biggest challenges for international songwriters in Africa today?
As an industry, we need to work together to help modernize and renew our communities and frameworks to better support songwriters across the continent.
SMP expands support to African songwriting community to help address many challenges facing African songwriting community, including lack of education in publishing and lack of access to studios and creative spaces I want to
“As an industry, we need to work together to help modernize and renew our communities and frameworks to better support songwriters across the continent.”
We provide educational opportunities through panel discussions and masterclasses, such as we recently held at the Ghana Camp. We have also launched new songwriting conferences and camps in Africa and around the world, creating spaces for songwriters to work and collaborate, and we continue to expand this year.
I believe SMP has a key role to play in shaping the next generation of African songwriters and building a sustainable ecosystem for the growing music scene.
If you could change one thing about the music business, what would it be and why?
You can’t rely on data alone. Let’s get the data back to the core. Start trusting your instincts.
World Leaders are supported by PPL is the world’s leading neighboring rights collector and operates best-in-class operations to help performers and recording rights owners around the world maximize their royalties. Founded in 1934, PPL raises funds from all over Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Americas. Since 2006, he has raised over £500 million worldwide for membership.global music business