How To Tour By Mirroring Burna Boy, Yemi Alade and Wizkid

How To Tour By Mirroring Burna Boy, Yemi Alade and Wizkid

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How To Tour By Mirroring Burna Boy, Yemi Alade and Wizkid

Let’s get obvious out of the way: Burna Boy is on another level. Even the most critical observer of the Nigerian music circuit cannot deny what is glaring to all – the man has climbed to an unprecedented level, and we all are witnesses to it. Last week, he completed the Love, Damini Tour that he’s been on since his album of the same title was released in the previous year. In that time and across Europe, the Caribbean and the United States, he has performed at twenty venues comprising seven stadiums and sixteen arenas. That doesn’t include the thirty-six festivals he headlined and the other six where he was a performing artiste. Official figures are yet to be released, but it’s a safe bet that the estimated number of tickets sold will be around 480,000 cumulatively. Again, that is unprecedented.

My long-held view is that despite Afrobeats’ roots in recorded rather than performance-based music, the most extensive scale will only be achieved through live performances across different regions. The dynamic nature of the genre (and other genres like Amapiano, if one is being fair) has made it a highly sought-after commodity. The vim that African music packs are unlike any of the world’s different sounds, and the global spread spearheads an African renaissance.

This is why touring is even more essential in this era where music accessibility is guaranteed at the tap of an app: music streaming, social sharing and gaming have ensured that music can travel farther than the artistes can. It is, therefore, a no-brainer to take the music in person to places where the streams have arrived ahead. The reward for those willing to take the risk is immense.

But it’s not only Burna Boy whose touring is taking the world by storm: take Yemi Alade, for example. For several years, she has cornered the European market and is one of the most familiar African stars in countries like Sweden, France, the Netherlands, etc. In May, she kicked off the 2023 African Baddie Tour, again named after her album. The tour will take her to twenty-four cities and not include her performances at various festivals. Just this past weekend, she was at the Sfinks Festival in Belgium and will be on stage at Ruhr Festival and African Music Festival in Germany and Musique en Ete in Switzerland. Regarding touring, it’s unlikely that anybody (perhaps except the Burna mentioned above) has surpassed her in recent years.

Also, Wizkid’s much-anticipated concert at the Tottenham Stadium in London was held to wide acclaim last weekend. It’s the start of his own More Love, Less Ego tour that will take him to twenty-six cities in Europe and America. This particular concert has been long awaited because, as you may know, Wizkid is scarce. But on the night, he reminded fans of how great he can be and underscored that he has to be outside more. A capacity crowd filled the same stadium where Beyonce had performed only a few weeks ago and where Harry Kane had broken the record for the most goals scored by a Premier League player. Unlike Kane, whose history happened in a defeat for his club side, Wizzy’s night was all rapture. The hits are countless, and if the show didn’t end at 10 p.m., there’s no doubt that they could have gone all night.

However, the argument could be made that these are the very top echelon of African music. Still, the same logic applies on a smaller scale. Artistes do not have to wait till they’re the most prominent name before they develop a touring mentality. At the beginning of Afrobeat’s reign in Nigeria, various telecommunications and FMCG brands invested in tours that allowed artistes to go across the country and chat with their fans wherever they were. Some even went as far as creating university-based tours. What better way to tour than to go to communities of millions of teenagers and young adults that populate the universities? It’s still possible today.

Music fans have proven that they are loyal. It takes a lot before the fan base of an artiste is decimated. But lack of music and access could provide a vulnerable spot where artistes who are putting in the work can chip in. And if the most prominent stars are not slacking, what excuse do folks not at their level have for not going twice as hard?

Jide Taiwo is a Lagos-based writer and media executive. His new book, E File Fun Burna: The Incredible Stagecraft of Burna Boy, is available here.

Lastly, stay updated with all you need about African music at S.O.A. right here.

How To Tour By Mirroring Burna Boy, Yemi Alade and Wizkid