MTN Y’ello star and the hope for a richer entertainment industry in Nigeria

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When the MTN Project Fame West Africa disappeared from the screens some three years ago, many aspiring contestants were heartbroken, and even more so the viewers who looked forward to the yearly shows, auditions, suspense and all the excitement. After almost three years, during which there was practically no music reality TV show on the screens, the telecommunication giant resurfaced with the Y’ello Star, another entertainment show and musical competition targeted at unearthing musical talents in the country.

It is easy to see that this new show is not just about entertaining the audience or shooting some unbeknownst talent into super stardom. The prizes won from the competition are indeed an indication that this is beyond showbiz. The telco giant has added a capacity-building package to the prize for all sixteen contestants and the six finalists.

Anthony Obi, Acting Chief Marketing Officer, MTN Nigeria while commenting on the completion of the premiere season, reaffirmed MTN’s commitment to developing the capacity of Nigerian youths. “We believe in Nigerian youth and are happy with the outcome of the project. Creativity is crucial to the overall development of the nation and they are the human resources for achieving this. We are committed to turning up their drive to succeed,” he said.

All 16 contestants enjoyed a Virtual Music Training Program from the prestigious Berklee College of Music, as well as a Creative Entrepreneurship Training Program certification by Henley Business School. Irrespective of how raw these talents might have been before they were discovered in the show, both training would refine and polish them in the art and business of music. Importantly, the scholarship awarded to the top six finalists to attend Berklee 2021 Summer Music Program at the Berklee College of Music would give them an extra advantage, arming them with the knife they need to cut their share of the $6.4 billion which Nigeria’s entertainment industry is projected to rake in in 2021.

Besides the N5 million cash prize, brand new fully furnished apartment with an in-house recording studio and a brand-new car, the winner also gets to record and produce a song at Berklee World-class Studio in New York, USA.

Reacting to this move, show judge and superstar musician Banky W commended MTN for “making sure that empowerment remains key on the show”. He further expressed his delight with the show’s format saying, “It’s not just about winner-takes-all, it’s about helping this generation (of talents) achieve something and I am proud to be a part of this.”

Convert these prizes into monetary equivalent value and you begin to have a clearer picture of what MTN is investing into Nigeria’s entertainment industry. While the apartment and the furnished in-house studio is estimated to be worth about N60 million, the cost of recording and producing a song at Berklee World-class Studio in New York as well as the scholarship for the top six finalists to attend Berklee 2021 Summer Music Program in the USA will run into thousands of dollars converting these amateurs into music professionals.

From previous shows like the Project Fame for instance, we have seen situations where winners of the competition release a debut album and go into oblivion soon after. This time around, the telco is taking extra measures to see that the contestants and finalists are trained and equipped to soar in the now competitive global entertainment industry. Sharing his thoughts on the entire experience, Dotti winner of the debut season said, “I am sincerely grateful to MTN for the rare chance to develop my talent. I could not have done this alone. The coaching and business training I have received through MTN Y’ello Star from the Berklee College of Music and the Henley Business School will help my career immensely.”

Richard Iweanoge, General Manager, Brand and Communications, MTN Nigeria said, “The Y’ello Star project is unique. It is different from what the audience is used to from previous music talent programmes. It is a project initiated by MTN to empower the youths and launch their talents to the world. The show is designed to groom musical talents by providing a lifetime opportunity to turn their dreams and aspirations into reality.”

It is not just a winner-takes-it-all situation, as it can be seen from past music reality TV shows like the Project Fame and Idols that several contestants went on to become famous singers even without winning the competition. Through this initiative, the ICT giant reaffirms its dedication to spearheading value creation in the entertainment industry.

The long-term effect of this would be an overall advancement of the Nigerian music industry and the economy, as these contestants use the provided platforms and their newly gained popularity to translate their dreams into reality. Such shows in the past produced artistes like Darey Art Alade, Timi Dakolo, Omawunmi, Chidinma, Niniola, Olawale, Praiz, Iyanya, and Johnny Drille; and with the added benefits in the MTN Y’ello star, we can look forward to a richer music industry in the coming years.

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