Photo: Ifebusola Sotande.

Op-Ed: Afrobeats Songwriters Aren't Valued Enough

There is a lack of compensation and credit given to afrobeats songwriters, and the genre as a whole suffers because of it.

Instagram Live battles, in which songwriters and producers go head-to-head comparing the top records from their respective catalogues, have been the trend worldwide amidst the global lockdown due to COVID-19. As one would expect, Africans have tapped in and ultimately, the conversation has shifted to the lack of appreciation for the role of songwriters in afrobeats.

The general sentiment is this: afrobeats songwriters aren't valued and, as a result, songwriting isn't a lucrative career so the creativity of the genre has suffered.

It's true that in Africa there is a stigma attached to songwriting. Most artists have engaged a songwriter at some point but they will never admit it publicly. It's also true that afrobeats songwriters, at this stage, cannot have a lucrative full-time career.

Let's start by defining who a songwriter is. A songwriter is a musician who professionally creates musical compositions and/or writes lyrics for songs. The first important thing to do is to point out that there are two types of songwriters. The first kind of songwriter creates the composition (that is the sound, think of it like humming). The second type of songwriter creates the lyrics (think of it like rap, i.e. lyrics without melody). Many writers combine both aspects of songwriting.

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