The word, addict, has an oft negative connotation when it is used. But really, addiction is a neutral word that swings to good or bad depending on how the act is fueled and its consequences on the addict.
There’s a difference between an alcoholic person whose biggest problem are morning hangovers but still manages to be responsible and a Frank Gallagher type drunk. There’s also a difference between a shopaholic that has or makes enough money legitimately to enjoy this habit and one that steals to constantly enable this high end act. Either way, they are all addicts.
Hi, my name is Dennis and I’m a music addict.
I could start by typing all the cliché reasons why music is so awesome and why I love it as much as a fat kid loves cake. But, No. This is a tirade about how living in Nigeria hasn’t enabled me to reach the peak of my addiction.
Many people who have had the luck (yes, luck) of going through my music library always have a look of surprise when they find out the large amount of songs on my devices. Many of them don’t believe I’ve listened to all those songs, I’ve made money off wagers from those type of doubts. Being an addict means having an insatiable appetite and mine is no different. With all the music I listen to on my local devices, I still have a long list of albums I really want to listen to. Many of which have been on the list for months.
I’m a Nigerian living in Nigeria, buying records on iTunes is an elite thing – stuff for the really rich. I’m not really rich, Nigeria is in a recession, I can’t shell out #1,500 on a single album on my current budget in this economy. Illegal download is the way but there are some albums – mostly old albums – that I can’t find a download link for. Sometimes I feel guilty about illegal downloads, so streaming which is relatively easier is my self given penance and it also comes with the added luxury of finally listening to the albums that have eluded me.
Spotify claims to have over 30 million songs in it’s database for access. I have long admitted to the unimpeachable fact that I won’t be able to listen to more than 1/10th the number of songs on there, considering that number rises everyday. Using Spotify in Nigeria is impossible, without the use of a VPN. And even with a functioning VPN, paying the expensive monthly fee for premium membership isn’t exactly easy.
Spotify charges in dolla(po)rs, most Nigerian banks won’t let you be great doing international transactions, even when the vendor has converted to Naira, talk more of dollars. Apple Music which is supposed to be a more convenient alternative considering that they charge in Naira also have issues with payment using debit cards from Nigerian cards. Fiends always find a way though and I did find a way. Even though it’s slightly illegal, I help contribute to artist’s revenue, soooo.
The odds were stacked against me but I overcame due to sheer resilience and some help from Google. Having a running streaming app is cool and stuff, but you can’t stream music without data driven by good quality internet service. Good quality data is expensive in Nigeria, that’s a fact. You either choose luxurious quality at exorbitant rates (Etisalat) or high quantity at a relatively small amount and bad service (Glo). The other two network providers are at the midpoint of this comparison (MTN & Airtel) which really is still glass half empty, to me.
Assuming the average length of an album is 50mins and I’m streaming at normal audio quality, that means I stream the album at about 45MB worth of data (overcalcu dey worry me). For me, listening means fawning over the details of songs and albums, especially the ones I like. An album can be streamed 100 times without taking up extra data, since it is temporarily saved to the application’s cache but it is advisable to clear phone cache frequently, though. Listening to one new album and also spending about an hour on SoundCloud for new music daily for a month means that I use up about 3GB on streaming music alone.
Obviously, I need data for other things so I have to buy excess of the estimated 3GB. Etisalat is my trusty mobile network provider and I pay #4,000 for 5.5GB monthly, not counting #200 for the occasional midnight browsing. This is where I’d like to remind you that I’m not rich, I have other bills to pay and Nigeria is in recession. But, addicts need their fix to survive so I pay, durrh!
Because I’m an extra mile guy when it comes to music, audio isn’t enough experience, watching videos – specifically live stage performances is important to me. I believe live performances add to the experience of a song. Many Nigerian artists don’t think so or don’t care enough, hence their whack performances. I’ve watched videos of Anderson .Paak delivering jaw dropping performances, I’d like to catch that vibe live and in real time someday. He will be performing at a huge end of the year concert in South Africa at the end of this year, we never get foreign artists in Nigeria for holistic performances like that.
Solange is headlining the same concert, she’s one of my music heroines and I may never get to see her live. Eminem made a stop in the same South Africa during his last tour, why couldn’t he branch Nigeria? The foreign artists that come to Nigeria only stoke novelty, the music performances don’t take the driver’s seat. Hence, you’re only basically attending the typical loud Naija concert.
It is hard for pimps to thrive word to Three 6 Mafia, but they make money off their struggle. Who knew that loving music – as much as a pimp loves his money – while living in Nigeria would be equally hard? Did I mention that buying fuel at #145/ltr for the generator is important to ensure there’s power on the devices?
Words by Dennis, aka Cry Baby, aka @ayo_dennis.