Four Takeaways from TurnTable’s inaugural quarterly report

Dominant numbers from Davido, Omah Lay, Olamide & more

As far as the music business is concerned, numbers make the world go round. Even in the Nigerian music space, where figures can be a shadowy metric, artists and labels are keenly aware of how sales signify relevance. It’s why M.I bragged about selling 30,000 copies of his debut album in 30 minutes, and why P-Square used to quote otherworldly amounts as their pay-outs under the famed Alaba market distribution model. These days, though, numbers are a little more transparent than hearsay, but there’s still some much-needed context, which is where TurnTable has been putting in active efforts in the past two years.

In the post-digital era of music, Nigeria is still finding its feet in a vastly untapped market that is fulfilling its potential however it can. Globally, streaming is king, but the phenomenon is still taking time to penetrate the market in these parts. Through its weekly charts, led by the Top 50, TurnTable has reflected a significant portion of Nigeria’s streaming audience through its current tracking of freemium platform numbers. Beyond that, it’s also continued to hold up a mirror to more traditional, and inarguably far-reaching, mediums of music consumption, tracking impressions from radio and TV.

In considering these legal means of accessing music, TurnTable is offering us the reality of Nigerian music’s listening infrastructures, albeit slightly fragmented due to lack of ready access to paid streaming platforms—which should be fixed sometime soon. At the top of this week, TurnTable released its inaugural quarterly report, summarising key facts and figures on the most popular metrics from the first quarter of 2021. If you’ve been following the TurnTable Top 50—which the NATIVE has been summarising every week—these details are anything but alien. If you haven’t, they should be revealing even though they won’t be totally surprising. Here are four talking points from the report, which you can view in full here.

Omah Lay’s dominance continued

2020 was the year of Omah Lay, but it hasn’t stopped there. The Port Harcourt-raised singer, songwriter and producer emerged as the singular, most captivating talent during a quarantine-wracked year. His debut EP, Get LayD, came out before TurnTable started sharing metrics but there’s no doubt of the impact it had. By the November release of his sophomore EP, What Have We Done, Omah Lay’s readiness for superstardom was sealed, evident in the numbers and feats he posted during the first quarter of 2021.

He set the record for most weeks (11!) at number one on the Top 50 with “Godly,” racking up the most streams across freemium platforms for any song in that period. His song-defining appearance on Olamide’s “Infinity” also played a big role in its feat as the third most streamed song during this period. Extending his role as a stimulus pack, he also helped Ajebo Hustlers and Ghanaian singer Gyakie earn hugely popular songs, the latter’s “Forever (Remix)” landing at the apex of the Top 50 for four non-consecutive weeks. Omah Lay is clearly just getting started.

YBNL’s ever-present EMPIRE

Nine years ago, Olamide released his sophomore album, YBNL (Yahoo Boy No Laptop), his first of many albums on the record label of the same title. In the time since, YBNL has emerged as a mainstay in the Nigerian mainstream, through Olamide’s prolific spree of hit singles and albums, and a constant cast of emergent new stars from Adekunle Gold to Lil Kesh to Fireboy DML. Early last year, YBNL announced a joint venture deal with the U.S-based indie powerhouse label EMPIRE, a move that’s already yielded dividends for both parties.

Under this arrangement, Olamide released his tenth studio LP, Carpe Diem, an album whose hype swelled in the aftermath of the EndSARS protests. With several fan-favourites, the project spawned megahits in “Infinity” and the Bad Boy Timz-assisted “Loading,” the former being the 2nd most popular song in the first quarter of 2021 by joint metrics, and the latter coming in third on the TV impressions metric thanks to its stunning, VR-indebted music video. Fireboy’s sophomore LP APOLLO came out around a year ago, but his feature appearance on Peruzzi’s “Southy Love” and Cheque’s “History,” both well-performing tracks on the Top 50, helped YBNL rank as the number two on the top labels chart for Q1, all stats considered.

With Olamide’s new album, UY Scuti—and its lead single “Rock” currently at number one on the Top 50—still gaining traction, this won’t be the last time YBNL will feature heavily in TurnTable’s quarterly reports.

Davido can’t stop, won’t stop

Since Davido brashly asked us to get out the way and watch him work on his sophomore single, he’s remained the quintessential Afropop superstar. While it took seven years to follow up his debut album, the singer returned with his third studio album, A Better Time, about 365 days later. With a laser focus on delivering hit songs, ABT is a stellar presentation of Davido’s abilities to bounce around diverse musical styles and synthesise widely loveable hits. The album has fulfilled intentions so far, going by the number of feats it scored on TurnTable’s Q1 2021 report.

Propelled by ABT and his feature on Teni’s chart-topping “FOR YOU,” Davido ranked second in the most equivalent streams in that period. He also led the pack in both radio and TV impressions, with the star-studded video for “Jowo” racking up 118 million TV impressions to lead that category. These accolades also extend to collective achievements, where DMW leads the pack as the top label in Q1, all stats considered. During that time, his collaborations with star mentees Mayorkun and Peruzzi, “The Best” and “Somebody Baby,” respectively, regularly featured in the top fifth of the Top 50 charts. Davido is a one-man chartbuster, but he also has a formidable crew with him.

Street Hop is alive and doing way beyond fine

Early last year, following the marquee runs of Naira Marley and, to a slightly lesser extent, Zlatan, there were several doomsday predictions on the inevitable demise of the latest wave of street-bred music. It’s typical, though, considering Nigerian mainstream music’s penchant for ripping through sonic and dance styles from the inner hoods with reckless abandon. Eighteen months later and it’s safe to call bull to these predictions, with this prolonged prominence making it clear that the streets have the sauce and are in no rush to relinquish it.

Of the ten most-streamed songs in Q1, seven are headlined by artists who make street-bred music. Olamide has two entries with “Infinity” and “Triumphant,” the latter features Bella Shmurda who also has “Cash App” and the Masterkraft-headlined “Hallelu” as entries. Naira Marley’s late December singles, “Koleyewon” and “Chi Chi,” are at numbers 2 and 6, respectively. Rexxie’s “KPK,” featuring Marlian Music signee Mohbad, completes the takeover at the fifth spot. During the same time, Bella Shmurda’s slapper “Rush” was the most popular song amongst Triller users in Nigeria, making him the most popular artist on the short form video-making and sharing app.

Like Reminisce and Olamide proclaimed all those years ago, “streets ti takeover,” and there isn’t much Twitter fingers and/or armchair pundits can do about it.

@dennisadepeter is a staff writer at the NATIVE.