DEAR TRACE-URBAN AND OTHER READERS.
This response-article is going to be a very long one (probably boring too) not because I intend to write an epistle in defense of my October 20th write up, no way. But what I’m going to do is break down and insert points raised by TRACE Urban’s 'corporate defense team'.
Below each point, I’ll append my reaction(s), cool? Okay, let’s go...
TRACE URBAN said: “On the 20th of October, an article written by Mr Stanley Nwabia was brought to our attention.
We are making this statement to restore the truth following the numerous untrue and false statements written in Mr Stanley Nwabia’s article.”
Stanley says: “Yes, I wrote that article and thank you for pushing out this statement. However, do understand that I sincerely expected TRACE’s Nigerian viewers to be the ones that would come forth and either support or counter my ‘allegations’ or ‘conspiracy theory’ against your organisation. Oh well, moving on.”
TRACE URBAN said: “The writer claimed to have spoken to some friends of his whose videos where turned down by TRACE and was also informed by a “Non-Nigerian Insider” who works at the TRACE Urban Nigerian Office, that “TRACE Urban has been put under pressure to promote their African host country’s music”,meaning South Africa.”
Stanley says: “My music promoter friends DID attempt to push their new artiste’s video and TRACE DID turn their videos down. As for our “Non-Nigerian Insider”, listen guys, sometimes it makes sense to protect the identity of a very reliable source of hard information, even if it means safeguarding his or her name, sex, ...and even nationality. Go figure.”
TRACE URBAN said: “In response to the above claims, TRACE would like to make several statements:”
Stanley says: “Okay now, fire away”
TRACE URBAN said: “TRACE Urban receives videos from all urban artists. We request videos to be submitted in a preferred format which is soft copy. Videos are selected on a number of criteria, including the popularity of the artist and song, the quality of the production, but never the nationality of the artist. There are no quotas at TRACE Urban and no pressure to promote any country more than another one.”
Stanley says: “I put it to TRACE that there are many recent Nigerian hit songs that were NEVER aired on your station, especially when these songs were fresh. And you can’t tell me that these songs or their producers were unable to format their soft copies or whatever to your specification. There is a quota on Nigerian music videos aired on Trace Urban and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, if it’s a fair quota system.
Perhaps when the time is ripe some Nigerian artistes that were denied having their videos aired on TRACE will speak up, but many wont because they don’t want to be blacklisted by TRACE URBAN.
TRACE URBAN is primarily a Eurocentric/French channel, but I do know for a fact that there is a separate TRACE AFRICA channel-which I believe ought to have been promoted in Nigeria, Africa and globally instead. Unfortunately, TRACE AFRICA seems to be targeted at francophone Africa and as such we the ‘Anglophonians’ are stuck with TRACE URBAN. I'm waiting for TRACE to announce that TRACE AFRICA (English version) will soon be available to Nigerian homes."
TRACE URBAN said: “In response to the journalist’s claim that “the popular Africa 10 Show on TRACE Urban is bombarded mainly with South African music”, we respond that TRACE Urban’s AFRICA 10 is dominated by top Nigerian and South African but also Angolan, Mozambican, Ghanaian and Kenyan tracks. It is industry knowledge that in the English speaking part of Africa, the dominant music industries are Nigeria and South Africa. Many Nigerian tracks have made it to number 1 and remained there for several weeks, such as, for example, D’Banj “Olivier Twist”; Naeto C “5 and 6″; Flavour “Nwa Baby”; J Martins ft Cabo Snoop “Good tym”; Mo Cheddah “See Me”; Ice Prince ft Gyptian “Magician remix”; Davido “DamiDuro”; P Square “Beautiful Onyinye” and the likes from East Africa Camp Mulla “Party Don’t Stop.”
Stanley says: “In my article, I did say, “And in order to curtail any suspicions from Nigerian fans, the people at TRACE ensure that from it’s very few collection of Naija songs on its AFRICA 10 countdown, at least one of them make it to number one.”
But permit me to deviate a bit; this is what I noticed about TRACE URBAN. Most of the Nigerian songs that ended up enjoying regular airplay on TRACE (or became number one on Africa 10) are from Naija artistes/songs that were already creating a buzz across Africa, way beyond Nigerian and West African borders. This is not promoting Nigerian songs; it’s called ‘cashing in’.
Now, this is what I call promoting an artiste as TRACE URBAN often does with some SA acts. A new upcoming or established SA artiste brings out a hot new single and TRACE airs it; look at the top-left corner of your TV screen and you’ll see ‘NEW’ or ‘EXCLUSIVE’ . TRACE URBAN continues playing this same SA track regularly until you wake up one day, tune in to TRACE, same song being played and you look to the top-left corner of your TV screen and you see ‘SMASH HIT’. A song that’s probably just popular inside SA or at best within SADC region.
But for our Nigerian artistes their hit song would have to become somewhat viral across the continent before a TRACE URBAN notices and decides to ‘cash in’ by giving the music video real air play and eventually tagging it as a SMASH HIT.”
PS: I’m a VERY big fan of several SA artistes, so there’s no ‘beef’ intended, just my honest observations.
TRACE URBAN said: “The article claims that “TRACE Urban has just introduced a new one hour show called BEST OF SA HIP HOP, showing on Saturdays and Sundays. One hour of non-stop South African music, nothing on Nigeria”. This is not true. ‘The BEST OF SA HIP HOP’ was a one off FOCUS on the best Hip-Hop artists & songs South Africa has to offer. We have featured top Nigerian artists in the past on our most popular programmes, FOCUS and GUEST STAR, such as D Banj& P Square and TRACE Urban is busy preparing a ‘Best of Naija Hip Hop’ that will be aired soon.”
Stanley says: “That’s good news, ‘Una do well’. What proof do you have that your so-called ‘Best of Naija Hip-Hop’ is not an afterthought in response to the small heat generated by my article? Anyways, I do hope TRACE will also do same ‘Best of....” for other African countries like Ghana, Kenya etc.”
TRACE URBAN said: “South Africa is not TRACE’s host country. TRACE’s host country is the world of music and talents. TRACE has operation in 180 countries and TRACE Urban is ranked #1 music channel in over 60 countries. TRACE has only one headquarter in Paris, France. TRACE opened an office in Lagos 18 months ago with a Nigerian partner and has just opened an office last month in Johannesburg, South Africa.”
Stanley says: “REALLY?” So, you are saying that your SA office in Johannesburg is your first and only structure in South Africa? Anyways, I really love South Africa and so I have no ‘palaver’ with how many offices you have over there. But if you are telling me that you recently establishd an official presence in SA just about a month ago then........................”
TRACE URBAN said: “There is no non-Nigerian staff who works at the TRACE office in Lagos. The writer was here referring to the TRACE Nigeria M.D – Mr Sam Onyemelukwe – who is of mixed raced and who clearly states that he has never made such a statement to anyone. TRACE has always promoted diversity and is proud to have staff from 40 different citizenships. Talent, expertise, passion, professionalism, dedication are the qualities TRACE is looking for. Race will never be a criteria to employ people at TRACE.”
Stanley Says: I honestly don’t remember talking about or making any strong reference to RACE in my previous article and obviously TRACE Nigeria’s M.D would certainly not speak with small boys like us, talk less of making any statements about TRACE’s music quota system. But like I said earlier, in reference to our ‘non-Nigerian insider at TRACE’s Lagos office’, go figure.”
TRACE URBAN said: “Finally, TRACE did not receive any request for an interview from the writer and would be glad to explain to him our accurate process of choosing videos that air on the channel. TRACE is dedicated to promoting Premium African content to the world, without favoring any nationality. Since its launch 9 years ago, TRACE has been the most effective and efficient tool to promote Nigerian music all over the world, first in the rest of Africa and then in the USA, in Europe etc. Some Nigerian artists have been exposed to tens of millions of TRACE viewers globally and this exposure has dramatically changed and accelerated their careers. There is not one club or urban radio in France, in RDC, Senegal, Cameroon, South Africa, Germany, UK, the USA that is not playing one or more Nigerian tracks and TRACE has played a key role for this promotion and recognition. No other music channel in the world has given so much exposure to Nigerian artists outside Nigeria.”
Stanley says: “PHEW...seeing the word ‘Finally’ on your statement is very therapeutic right now, ‘cos I don tire to dey type all these responses’.”
I did not approach or request for any interview with TRACE URBAN neither am I interested in doing so. But I do appreciate your coming out to respond or react to my article. By the way, I’m quite surprised and amazed at your claims of actively promoting Nigerian music since your launch over 9 years ago. I can assure you that most of your Nigerian viewers only discovered your station’s existence less than two years ago.
I still stand by my position that TRACE URBAN only CASHED IN on the limited but appreciable growth of the Nigerian and African music scene.
The TRACE network is very strong in Europe and the west generally, how many international collabos has TRACE facilitated for our local Naija artists? How many global award stages have you pitched our artistes on? Yes, TRACE has ‘powered’ a few Nigerian concerts and events here and there but several Nigerian corporate bodies have been doing that for long. So, kini big deal?”
TRACE URBAN said: “Read below the reactions of Nigerian artists to Mr Stanley Nwabia’s “article”. They speak for themselves.”
Stanley says: “Oh boy, una gang up? Hinyaaa”
“The article contradicts itself, even a blind man can watch TRACE and feel the impact it has made for the growth of Nigerian music across the continent”- FLAVOUR
Stanley says: "Nna, your song ‘Nwa baby (Remix)’ was already a monster hit before TRACE began to ‘promote’ it. Let’s at least use YouTube figures, after over a year on YouTube, ‘Nwa baby remix’ still has less than six million views, a two month old South Korean song ‘Gangnam style’ is already topping 500 million views. And believe me most of your almost 6 million views on YouTube are from Nigerian and African fans, BASED IN AFRICA or in diaspora. TRACE URBAN did not do ‘shishi’ for your songs outside Africa / Africans.
For now, I do not believe any globally acclaimed international music station is truly and sincerely promoting Nigerian or African music. That’s my own opinion!"
“I’ve achieved a lot this year and TRACE Urban have had a lot to do with that. They were a Media Partners at my Album launch concert earlier this year and have been very supportive in premiering and rotating my music videos. For all that I’m extremely grateful” – DAVIDO
Stanley Says: “Dami duro was already a continental hit song before ‘they’ ‘cashed in’.”
“Since TRACE Urban was made accessible to us via the Lagos office, it has made Nigeria the center of quality for other African countries. I strongly disagree with the credibility of that article” –IYANYA
Stanley says: “My brother, the TRACE Urban that most Nigerians watch on satellite TV showcases about 80% American and European music content while the rest of Africa is left with about 20% to fight for. If a TRACE is sincere about promoting Nigerian/African music, shouldn't its existing TRACE AFRICA channel be at the forefront of this movement? No, TRACE AFRICA is for the French speaking Africans only.”
“Before now, TRACE was only another channel on Satellite TV but now its opened up the world to us and exposed us to the world. Need not say more cause it’s a visible change” – TIWA SAVAGE
Stanley says: “Tiwa, you are very pretty. ***Next ***”
“TRACE Urban has sold Nigerian music to the world via numerous channels not limiting us to only Africa and we say this because we are a part of this movement” – PSQUARE
Stanley says: “Ironically, P-square’s Chop my money-remix was one of the first Nigerian songs that got me very angry with TRACE URBAN. When ‘Chop my money’s music video was still fresh and tearing up TV screens all across Africa, TRACE URBAN did not play it. P-square’s Chop my money, never even made it into TRACE’s so called AFRICA 10 charts back then. Though they now play it quite often these days, Uncle Jude, I lie?”
Chai, if you had the energy and patience to read through this response of mine then I say a big THANK YOU.
I never had the intention to ‘pour sand sand’ inside TRACE URBAN’’s Garri. I made an observation and I blogged about it. I was not expecting a formal response from TRACE, rather I expected TRACE URBAN’s Nigerian viewers to be the ones that would come up and tell me that all my observations in my article on 20th October 2012 were false, fabricated or whatever. That has not happened...yet.
TRACE URBAN should even be grateful that I put this small heat on them. Now more Nigerians will tune in to the station and watch for longer periods. If not for anything, at least to count how many Nigerian songs are aired on a typical TRACE URBAN day.
I believe we can close this issue here and move on with our lives. But if TRACE URBAN chooses otherwise, I dey kampe!