All You Need To Know About Alté Movement In The Nigerian Music Industry - AfroGbedu

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Tuesday, 9 April 2019

All You Need To Know About Alté Movement In The Nigerian Music Industry

Regardless of how hip and trendy the alté word is, there are still many people that are confused about what it means or what the movement represents. The alté word has been thrown around loosely for a vast part of this year in the music scene and a lot is misconstrued and a lot more is yet to be discovered about this new fad. Personally, I have had quite a problem with the pronunciation. I have heard people pronounce it as  /al-t-ay/ and I often pronounced it that way too but I have been corrected and made to realize that it is to be pronounced as /al-t-eh/.
As if one conundrum is not enough to deal with, a bigger conundrum stems from the definition of this movement.  A seemingly aggrieved Nigerian defined it on urban dictionary to mean

A bunch of Lagos kids who wear ugly glasses and oversized jeans with ugly ass t-shirts all in the name of being different, they also wear dirty sneakers which is why they look like miscreants. They listen to weird music in the name of being edgy but in reality, they are all stupid. You might spot them at a party flocking together like cattle, if they want to be mad they show up to motives shirtless.

 You can sense the anger in the definition and this is not just from one person, some Nigerians carry angst against this movement particularly because of their dressing and their need to present contrary views even when illogical. In a recent interview at City 105.1 Fm in Lagos, Boj reaffirmed that he and Teezee coined the word alté as a derivative of the word alternative.  A pertinent question becomes; how did the movement transcend from being classified as people who like alternative music to people who wear dirty sneakers and listen to weird music?

An alté person would let you know that the alté movement is more than just the music but also the style, and charisma of an individual. It is fair to say that the movement might have been hijacked along the lines as with movements that often lack a public figurehead and a proper structure but I do not think this poses a problem to the alté crowd. You may criticize the dressing, the larger than life attitude, and perceived outward arrogance of the alté crowd, but you can also see it as a means for Nigerian youths whom society has deemed as misfits to express themselves and a means for the IJGB (I Just Got Back) crowd to find a place in Nigeria’s music setting and community in general. What I have a problem with is the changing of narratives to the international community. A recent Vogue feature on Wavy the Creator subtly suggested that Wavy the Creator was the pioneer of the Shaku Shaku wave, which is utterly wrong by a long stretch. If we are even being honest, Wavy’s Shaku song is not even among the top five biggest shaku shaku songs in Nigeria. How is Wavy The Creator then the pioneer of the movement? Such narratives need to be corrected but in a situation where the forerunners of the Shaku movement such as Slimcase, Idowest, and Mr. Real are not even bothered or even aware of this narrative, it is quite easy for Wavy to take the credit to a naïve international community. The greater problem this poses is that if not tamed or carefully monitored, the alté crowd possess the ability to twist narratives about the Nigerian music industry to outsiders to suit their motives.
In spite of the many failings of the alté community,  one has to appreciate and carefully think about the futuristic impact of this crowd in the Nigerian music scene. What the alté movement has managed to create is a stream of income for musicians that cannot make it to Nigeria’s overflooded mainstream music market. In a structureless Nigerian music industry, if your song does not garner an organic following in the ‘streets’ or mainstream media, you will find it hard to make money off your music. However, with the alté crowd, a cult following of listeners has been generated and this has been somewhat beneficial to the artists spearheading the movement and to future young artists if managed properly. The alté crowd has succeeded in a making alternative music appreciated and seem cooler than even the normal pon pon sound. Of course, you have to remember that when factored in, the alté crowd only make up a minute fraction of the Nigerian music community but do not forget that the international media seemingly loves them and sees them as possible frontrunners of the Nigerian music industry.

Taking their monetary structure into perspective, Boj has over 230k monthly listeners on Spotify, and has almost 500k plays on his latest offering "Like To Party" featuring Teezee and Skepta. Odunsi has over 107k monthly and has almost 500k on 'Desire' featuring Funbi and Tay Iwar. Santi has over 62k monthly and almost 500k plays on "Gangsta Fear" featuring Odunsi. Spotify pays about $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream to the holder of music rights. This excludes the shows the alté guys organize for themselves and other streaming platforms.

It is not a lot of money when compared to what the big mainstream artists are raking in but what you have to appreciate is that this movement regardless of how loathed their dirty sneakers, oversized tee shirts, and ugly jeans are have managed to create a monetary structure for young artists. A structure where the young artists can properly track their progress, express themselves with their music, watch their music travel through continents and relate with people that genuinely love their music. You may not like them aesthetically or musically but at the very least, you have to appreciate their dedication and commitment to a cause.

written by: James Falola

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