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YouTube Music Expands Commitment to Black Music Via #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund



YouTube Music Expands Commitment to Black Music Via #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund, SiliconNigeria

YouTube Music is deepening investments in Black communities by opening applications to the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund Class of 2022, aimed at enabling Black artists to commercialise their work.

Grant applications for the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund Class of 2022  will open on 21 June 2021. Eligibility has been expanded to include songwriters and producers, allowing Black artists residing in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Canada and the UK, in addition to the U.S., Brazil and Australia, to apply. 

YouTube Music is also launching a new partnership with renowned music education institution, 1500 Sound Academy, founded by GRAMMY-award winning songwriters and producers, James Fauntleroy and Larrance “Rance” Dopson. Through the inaugural #YouTubeBlack Music Future Insiders Scholarship, YouTube will fund ten full ride scholarships to the Academy’s Live Online 1500 Music & Industry Fundamentals programme. 

“The YouTube Music team is excited to expand the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund and create new opportunities while also reflecting on the progress made to date,” says Alex Okosi, YouTube’s EMEA managing director for emerging markets. “The six-month scholarship term will see recipients undertake courses in music production, engineering, songwriting, mixing, music business and much more,” he adds. 

Through the  inaugural Class of 2021, the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund provided resources including dedicated one-on-one support, seed funding, training and networking programs enabling the 21 grantees achieve incredible growth, not only on YouTube, but in their careers. Some of these achievements include: 

From January 2021 through April 2021, the class collectively received 1.4B views on their official artist channels 

  • Six artists saw over 50% growth in official artist channel subscribers (Joy Oladokun, Miiesha, BRS Kash, Jensen McRae, serpentwithfeet, and Yung Baby Tate) 
  • Four artists saw 200% growth on their official artist channel views (serpentwithfeet, Jensen McRae, Yung Baby Tate, and Joy Oladokun) 
  • As part of YouTube Music’s Africa Month celebration, Sho Madjozi, Sauti Sol, andFireboy DML, hosted exclusive live stream virtual concerts on each of their Official Artist Channels 
  • Rexx Life Raj, Joy Oladokun, and Tkay Maidza performed at YouTube’s annual Brandcast event 
  • Mariah The Scientist performed an exclusive live set for YouTube Music Nights from Center Stage in Atlanta, in support of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) 

Future Insiders aims to equip at-risk and underserved youth, who aspire to enter the music and creative industries, with skills on content development. Following the program’s early success, Future Insiders will be expanded globally with more details to be shared later this year.

Moreover, to celebrate Black culture, YouTube Music has activated #YouTubeMusic Moments – a collection of content series, live streams, and events whose primary goal is to celebrate Black culture, identity, and experiences from the perspective of Black artists and thought leaders in music. 

YouTube remains committed to being an advocate and ally to the diverse communities that call the platform home and will continue to expand its efforts to support other marginalised and underrepresented communities.

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Spotify Picks Grammy Nominee Somi for EQUAL Music Program



Spotify Picks Grammy Nominee Somi for EQUAL Music Program, SiliconNigeria

Spotify has announced Rwandan-Ugandan jazz singer and songwriter Somi as the latest African singer to join its EQUAL Music Program. Spotify created EQUAL as a  global initiative  to cultivate gender equality in music and support female creators under one brand.

The Grammy-nominated Somi is set to release a new album in July, that will pay tribute to the iconic Miriam ‘Mama Africa’ Makeba.The album features renditions of Miriam Makeba’s greatest hits and the first single from her aptly named album – Zenzile” The Reimagination of Miriam Makeba – is a remake of the 1967 hit ‘Pata Pata’. She has also written an original musical about Miriam Makeba called ‘Dreaming Zenzile,’ which will be released towards the end of the year. 

Somi made her debut in 2014, with the album ‘The Lagos Music Salon’. The album, which was inspired by a creative sabbatical in Lagos,  featured singer Angelique Kidjo and rapper Common and landed at number one on US and international jazz charts. Over the years, Somi has built a music career around transatlantic storytelling, narrating the stories of Africans and the continent that aim to raise awareness on social issues.

“Our aim, with a program such as EQUAL, is to upend the inequalities that women face in the music industry by creating a space on the platform that allows us to solely amplify the work of female creators. Somi’s music is a celebration of Africa’s history and sound and of the legacy of a female artist whose impact through the arts was felt across the continent and the diaspora. The kind of impact we aim to continue to amplify through EQUAL,” says Phiona Okumu, Head of Music, Sub Saharan Africa.

Somi adds, “I’m honored to represent global female voices as part of Spotify’s EQUAL program – especially as I gear up to release my new album that honors our first great lady of African song.  Truly the EQUAL initiative embodies the spirit of Makeba’s legacy and the generations of African women who have benefited from her journey.”

To further support the EQUAL Music Spotify launched the EQUAL Hub, adedicated space to celebrate women creators and help increase awareness of their work among fans.

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Africa Region

Facebook Highlights Afrocentric Liquor Loved in Homes and Bars Globally



Facebook Highlights Afrocentric Liquor Loved in Homes and Bars Globally, SiliconNigeria

In commemoration of this year’s Africa’s Day, Facebook draws attention to a brand that is helping to reshape, refine and reproduce a drink viewed by many as a ‘drink for the streets’.

This drink is popularly known as ‘ogogoro’ and the brand that’s putting this drink on the global map is Pedro’s Premium Ogogoro. With an Instagram page that has been deliberately designed to charm people from all walks of life into getting a taste of this drink, Pedro is doing a great job of spreading the tentacles of Nigeria’s cultural drink into the world’s most urban regions.

From Lagos Nigeria, Pedro’s premium ogogoro has now found a market in Ghana, Kenya and London. Let’s take a quick peek at seven things we can learn about this Afrocentric liquor that’s now finding its way to bars across the world.

  1. Ogogoro can be both traditional and modern

A first glance at Pedro’s Instagram page portrays the enticing look of a bottle with a splendid blue label. Pedro’s has proven that the drink called ‘ogogoro’ can look premium and be compared with Western alcoholic drinks like vodka, whiskey, brandy, etc.

  1. Ogogoro is loved by all and sundry

From the riverine communities of Nigeria’s southern regions, Pedro’s shows that ogogoro can transcend rural borders and find its way into the hands and homes of people living in highbrow areas of Lagos and other countries like Ghana, Kenya and the UK.

  1. Ogogoro isn’t just about the drink, it’s about the culture

Pedro’s Premium Ogogoro constantly shows how the culture behind the drink is vital. A preview of the photos on the brand’s Instagram page shows several images of African cultural items. It’s obvious that the culture is what drives the brand, not just the liquor. Maybe, there’s a spirit in this spirit drink called ogogoro.

  1. People love ogogoro

Every now and then, you’ll see Instagram posts from Pedro’s explaining that their stock has been sold out which leads to a safe assumption that the demand for premium ogogoro is almost more than the supply.

  1. You can use ogogoro in cocktails

Cocktails are known to contain such heavy spirits as whiskey and vodka but it’s interesting to note that ogogoro can also make for a good base in cocktail drinks and they can actually look and taste great.

  1. Ogogoro can also use some pairings

Fans of alcoholic drinks are definitely aware of the multiple variations of meals and other stuff that probably go well with their favourite liquor. Ogogoro is not an exception. Asides distilling this premium spirit, Pedro’s goes through the task of educating the inexperienced or unknowing drinker about possible pairings that would be great with this drink.

  1. Premium ogogoro is made from four key processes

Premium ogogoro is obtained from the oil or raffia palm tree and has to go through four key processes namely, tapping, fermentation, distillation and refinement. The tapping is done in the rural areas by palm wine tappers; this is also where the natural fermentation occurs traditionally using wild yeast. The first round of distillation is also carried out by rural practitioners to help preserve the otherwise fermented sap. The final process is what separates premium ogogoro from its rural counterpart to give it that premium taste.

Learn more about Pedro’s Premium Ogogoro on the official Facebook Africa page and on a dedicated ‘Made by Africa, Loved by the World’ microsite to get a glimpse into the growth and success of the Afrocentric liquor that is loved in homes and bars across the world.

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Social Media

Five Simple Facebook Tips from Mark Angel Comedy: African Humor Making its Mark Globally



Five Simple Facebook Tips from Mark Angel Comedy: African Humor Making its Mark Globally, SiliconNigeria

As Facebook continues to spotlight exemplary Nigerians whose work has helped put Nigeria and Africa as a whole on the global map with the ‘Made by Africa: Loved by the World’ campaign, the name Mark Angel comes to mind as this name and the brand it represents has become such a strong force to reckon with in the comedy industry today.

The brand enjoys a large following of over 17 million followers on Facebook and over 1 million followers on Instagram.  There’s no doubt that the content produced by Mark Angel has endeared the hearts of millions all over the world. In 2016, Emmanuella was awarded the “Princess of Comedy” title as well as “Best New Comedienne,” at the Afro Australia Music and Movie Awards (AAMMA 2016) in far away Syndey Australia.

Mark Angel currently ranks as the most popular Nigerian brand on Facebook with the largest number of followers. But what has made Mark Angel become such a recognizable name in comedy today?

 Let’s consider five simple Facebook tips that helped Mark Angel achieve such feats online.

  1. Don’t get discouraged with the followers/engagement at first

According to Mark Angel himself, the first video they posted on social media only got four views. But today, his Facebook page boasts over 17 million followers, and his videos easily get a combined view of over a million on average on all social media platforms weekly. All this has happened because he and his team didn’t get discouraged by the low response they got at first.

  1. Don’t just focus on content. Learn a Skill

Having learnt cinematography from faraway India, Mark Angel didn’t allow his focus to simply be on content creation.  According to Mark Angel, he spent over $100 (over ₦40,000 naira based on current exchange rates) to learn how to edit videos as it is possible to get disappointed by those who are skilled in this area anytime.

  1. Invest in equipment

 Mark invested $5,000 (over ₦2 million) on equipment and also invested in getting a production team. The results of that investment today are obvious as the quality of his video production greatly improved. Today, the Mark Angel brand has equipment worth a lot more than $50,000 (₦20 million).

  1. Be consistent

Every Friday, the Mark Angel team makes sure that content is posted on all social media platforms. This creates a regular sense of expectation in the heart of the fans as they always know when to expect content. To make this happen, the team obviously has to make sure all the requisite content is ready for posting before Friday.

  1. Be original

Mark Angel prides itself as being one of the first brands in the comedy skits producing sector to feature children as stars and main characters with Emmanuella having grown in fame and popularity over the years. This obviously has become a niche for the brand as they have recently been seen to include other children in different episodes, popularly among which is teenage sensation, Success.

Watch his story on the official Facebook Africa page and on a dedicated ‘Made by Africa, Loved by the World’ microsite to get a glimpse into the growth and success of Mark Angel, the African creative whose comedy is loved by the world.

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