By Yusuf Mohammed

Access Bank and Nigerian Breweries (through Star larger beer) have made a ground-breaking collaboration called ‘Access the Stars’ to discover, amplify, and groom the next generation of Nigerian musicians. This is not the first time that NB PLC is treading this path as they have been involved in the entertainment industry.

Several years ago, they sponsored the famous Star Mega Jam, one of the biggest music concerts the county has ever witnessed. They are at it again but this time around, in partnership with one of the biggest commercial banks in Nigeria, Access Bank; they are going to put in place a platform that will continue to help upcoming artists to showcase their talents.

The Nigerian music industry has become too huge to ignore. Corporate organizations are aware of the stupendous growth of the music industry that is why they are latching onto it. They do not want to miss out on this cash cow.

Indeed, music has become big business in Nigeria. Some years ago, at parties in the cities, they hardly played local songs. Today, the reverse is the case. No Nigerian music, no party. This feat which seemed almost impossible to achieve few years ago has now become common.

Nigerian music has become so big that foreign artists are beginning to fall over themselves to either collaborate with local artists or remix their songs. Songs of Nigerian artists are now being played all over the world. Although there were indigenous artists who were trying to make giant strides in the industry, it was very difficult for them to compete with their foreign counterparts.

Speaking on the new initiative, Access Bank MD/CEO, Herbert Wigwe said that ‘Access The Stars’ is borne out of the desire of both brands to continue to connect with people through the one platform they both have in common which is music.

“Both our brands share a long history of creating excellent musical experiences for not just our customers, but the wider Nigerian.

“The companies will be giving cash awards of up to N150 million ($450 000) to the winners of the search. The show is intended to create opportunities for talented artists around the country.

“Both our brands share a long history of creating excellent musical experiences for not just our customers but the wider Nigerian audience, and this is us expanding on that,” Access Bank group managing director Herbert Wigwe said.

“Access the Stars comes from the desire of both brands to continue to connect with people through one platform they both have in common – music. Access Bank and Star Lager Beer share a long history of creating excellent music experiences for not just their consumers but for the wider Nigerian audience.”

Wigwe said the initiative was born out of the desire to keep connecting people through music.

Nigerian Breweries managing director Mr. Jordi Borrut Bel said:

“We have done this before but this time we want to bring something new and more entertaining to our consumers, where they not only enjoy good music but get the opportunity to have their own voices and music showcased to the rest of the world. We are really excited about this.

“Star Lager Beer is a well-known name in the Nigerian music scene, with hit concerts like Star Music – The Trek, Star Mega Jam and famous talent show Star Quest, which was a launch pad for the likes of Kcee, DJ Switch and many more. With these concerts, we took stars around the country and gave them a platform to entertain fans in different cities.”

Access the Stars will feature performances from such acts as Phyno, Olamide, Burna Boy and Tiwa Savage.

In the early 2000s, Kenny Ogungbe and Dayo Adeneye D1 of Kennis music signed Tuface Idibia who was a member of R&B group, Plantashun Boiz. With the promotion of Kennis music, Nigerians recognized Tufaces’ talent and gradually began accepting Nigerian music as the norm.

In 2004, his first album, Face 2 Face was a major hit, selling up to 2 million copies. It had many tracks that competed with dancehall songs from Jamaica which were the rave of the moment. Apart from competing with the likes of Shaggy and Sean Paul, he competed with Awilo Logomba, Craig Davids and Sisqo, whose songs were very popular in the country.

Following the success of Tuface, later that year, two young men, Collins Enebeli aka Don Jazzy and Dapo Oyebanjo aka D’Banj founded Mo’ Hits records. Collins They came with a swagger that made their music accepted instantly, especially among the fashion conscious youth. With songs like ‘Tongolo’ and ‘Why me’ Nigerians began playing more local songs at parties.

The duo of Paul and Peter (PSquare) joined in taking Nigerian music to another level. Olu Maintain followed with his hit single ‘Yahooze’ in 2006. These artists paved the way for 9ice who wowed everyone with his hit track ‘Gongo Aso.’ Wande Coal, Naeto C and MI all followed suit.

By 2010, the arrival of Ibrahim Ayodeji Balogun, popularly known as Wizkid cemented Nigerian music in the hearts of most Nigerians. With the help of Bankole Wellington, popularly known as Banky W, his first album, called ‘Superstar’ was produced. There was nowhere in this part of the country where his songs were not played. Wizkid paved the way for David Adeleke aka Davido who came out with full force with his track titled, ‘Dami duro.’

Since then, Nigerian music has become very big. Local artists with their sounds are now making collaborations with international acts putting them on a global scale. One of the most notable collaborations which opened the door for others was the collaboration between Mo’ Hits and Snoop Dogg for the track ‘Mr. Endowed remix.’ Two years ago, renowned music star R.Kelly who calls himself the king of R&B did a remix of Davido’s ‘If.’

Today, there is Burna Boy whose songs are being played all over the world. On August 17, Burna Boy got endorsed by Sir Elton John, the legendary British musician, who is a multiple Grammy award winner. He included his hit track ‘Ye’ on his playlist in his Rocket Hour on Beats 1 radio by Apple Music.

Corporate organizations have also taken advantage of the fame and acceptability of local artists by making them ambassadors, thus, getting multi-million naira endorsements. Whizkid is an ambassador for Pepsi and MTN, the largest telecommunication company in Africa.

Globacom, another telecommunication giant has also endorsed so many artists. Nigeria is estimated to have a population of over 180 million people. And when it comes to mobile phones, Nigeria remains Africa’s largest mobile market, with about 162 million subscribers and a penetration rate of 84%.

This has helped the music industry as songs are now streamed and downloaded online. With this huge population of mobile phone-cladding social media users, it is not surprising that this industry is getting bigger by the day.

Within this mix, some of the nation’s celebrities have become brand ambassadors due to the following they command in real life and on social media.

This recent move by Access Bank and Nigerian Breweries signals the biggest partnership in Nigerian music. It will only take the music industry to greater heights. In fact, it is a win-win situation.

‘Access The Stars’ platform is created for exceptional Nigerians in the music industry to be discovered, refined, and empowered to reach higher heights by accessing their star potential. Artists that become successful will get to tour with the best of Nigerian artists on ‘The Trek’ across the country, giving the grassroots access to the stars to learn one-on-one.

This move explores the intersection between business and shared love for the rich entertainment culture of Nigeria.

Over the years, Access Bank and Nigerian Breweries have built consumer-focused music assets like Star Mega Jam, Star Music – The Trek, Star Quest, and BAFest. With Access The Stars. Nigerian Breweries and Access Bank are together, consolidating the trajectory of “Discovering, Refining and Show-casing” the best of Nigeria’s musical talents.

Nigerian radio personality Olive Emodi and singer Dare Art Alade will co-host the show while local artist Seyi Shay, producer Tee-Y Mix and dancer Kaffy will be the judges.