YouTube executive urges African artists to use the platform to boost their careers

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Speaking on Ghana’s 3Music TV Channels Culture Daily On Thursday, Awofisayo touched on features like YouTube Shorts and Live Redirect, as well as posting content other than music videos on the platform to help musicians and other creators maximize their reach and engagement.

Launched almost two years ago, Shorts is a 15-60 second user-generated video feature on the platform. This week, YouTube unveiled plans to allow creators to monetize Shorts through the YouTube Partner Program.

Live Redirection allows creators to interact with their fans before their videos are released and allows people in the live chat to automatically access the video when it is posted.

“A lot of artists think they can only post music videos on YouTube, but we always tell them that the videos that are successful in terms of engagement are the ones that aren’t music videos,” Awofisayo said. “[It is] your tour diaries, your backstage, your live chats, your animations, and [other] things like that that fans want to engage with.

Regarding the specific initiatives that YouTube has launched to boost the careers of African musicians, Awofisayo referred to the platform’s Black Voices Fund, intended to directly support and mentor black artists, songwriters and producers around the world. Last year, eight Africans were inducted into the #YouTubeBlack Voices Music Class of 2022 including Nigerians CKay, Omah Lay, P.Priime and Telz, Ugandans Azawi as well as Major League DJz, DJ Lag and Elaine d ‘South Africa.

She also talked about the Foundry Class, an artist development campaign for young independent artists offering them seed funding and dedicated partner support from YouTube in the form of marketing, promotion and content development. Nigerian artists including Rema, Tems and Bella Shmurda are among the notable alumni on the program.

Regarding the impact of digital delivery methods in the African music space, Awofisayo said, “Radio is still king, especially in this part of our world, where access to data is not readily available, but streaming has made people’s music travel visa-free. So, a Black Sherif song can be heard in China. I don’t know if he’s ever been to China. That’s what streaming did. It basically broke down barriers and broadened the audience for these artists to have a global reach.

Meanwhile, YouTube is hosting a songwriting camp in Ghana this week. “The program will bring together female songwriters from across the continent to create music and empower themselves,” Awofisayo said.

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