By Stanley Olisa

My October byline played up the subject of corporate citizenship within which corporate social responsibility is situated. This month, I’m taking another heavy stab at the topic of CSR but with a music industry slant and emphatic focus on Davido’s 250-million-naira philanthropy.

So, I was thinking about the whole Davido trend- how it started on social media and the traction it garnered in just a couple of days. After analysing what played out online, including commentaries by notable spectators, as well as the reckoning antecedents of the Davido brand, I came to one unavoidable inference- Davido, unarguably, has the highest CSR profile in Nigeria’s music industry. And his recently announced orphanage donation has beamed searchlight on the need for music acts to also consider investing socially to build their ‘capital’.

Going Beyond Mere Music Promotion

This is particularly for record label owners, music managers, artistes and PR practitioners in the music industry. CSR isn’t only for corporate brands- musicians should also engage in social investments with meaningful impact on the lives of their community members. As an artiste manager, don’t focus only on securing show or performance gigs, radio/TV interviews, giving payola to radio stations, collaborations, album releases, planning continental tours, videos, social media marketing, and the like. Also think about what the artiste can do in their community to impact lives positively. In fact, there should be a CSR component in your plans.

Look at the artiste’s immediate community and ask critical questions: What are the needs or challenges in this community? How can my artiste’s brand help? Then, sit with your artiste and the rest of the team and discuss the niceties of proposed social impact initiatives. Most times, we emphasise money a lot and forget that we can actually make significant impact in our communities without necessarily spending much. No one is saying you should pull off a Davido!

You could decide to volunteer in community service like sanitation exercises, educating the youths on the dangers of drug abuse, sexual awareness campaign for girls, partnering with non-governmental organisations to carry out relevant enlightenment campaigns in the community, etc. You can as well start a moderate secondary school scholarship scheme. You can support causes aimed at causing transformation within the community. You really don’t have to break the bank to impact your people! CSR is one area of the music business that is not so music but can enormously influence the entire music business if maximised by the artiste.

Davido and his Management understand this business truth and have leveraged it consistently. You would recall that during the ENDSARS campaign, Davido’s role was very pronounced. In fact, he led a delegation to the Inspector-General’s office to table the demands of the Nigerian youths with respect to mitigating the excesses of the spectacular fiasco that was the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. Some other artistes were active in the campaign, but you can’t deny Davido’s prominent role in the fray of things. Don Jazzy is another music executive who appreciates the power of CSR in the music space. Williams Uchemba also understands the import of CSR as he’s done considerable work in this regard.

CSR Gives You Massive Earned Media

I published a post on LinkedIn recently, and it’s about how to generate earned media for your brand. I mentioned CSR as one of the potent means of earning good media. This is incontrovertible, as it stands to reason. The media feast on major CSR stories. You don’t have to do much pitching to get a CSR project reported. And the reason is relatable- impact and human interest. CSR borders on positive impact on people, improving lives and transforming communities, especially in a clime where the government has lost touch with the citizens’ pain points.

When Air Peace freely airlifted over 500 Nigerians from South Africa during the xenophobic attacks, the airline enjoyed global earned media. So much visibility. Many interviews. The CSR literarily put the brand on the map. Top-tier media ran features and specials on the airline’s social investment at the time. That’s exactly what Davido is getting now.

Even before he made the 250-million-naira donation announcement, he trended for days. And after he issued a statement, the earned media tripled! He dominated social media and offline conversations. He was widely reported in mainstream media. Blogs kept publishing. Celebs kept lauding. This article, here, is also part of that earned media. Call it unequalled visibility for the Davido brand! Even his last album release- A Better Time- didn’t get this much earned media. This is the kind of visibility that historic CSR actions can produce. It has multilayer effect on the brand, increases share of voice and spikes up positive sentiments which constitute an edge over your competition.

Building Social Capital Through CSR

Apart from the earned media, increased following and fan base as well as the increased likelihood of penning more endorsement deals as a result of growing social influence, investing in CSR helps build a solid social capital for your brand as an artiste. When you carve a CSR niche and implement it consistently, you’ll endear yourself to your community. They will become more favourably disposed to your brand. Positive sentiments are expressed about you, and that means good reputation and goodwill. Now, that’s your CSR working for you. That’s real social capital as driven by your social value. This is what Davido is experiencing now- the perks of CSR- and he’ll enjoy it almost perpetually. His orphanage donation has bolstered his profile and public rating. He’s won more hearts and I won’t be surprised if he gets a National Honour for this act of benevolence.

Conclusion

Davido’s philanthropy has presented an opportunity for successful Nigerian music artistes to think more deeply about CSR, develop a plan for it and see it through. It’s one area that is little explored but holds plethoric boons for the artistes. And it need not be monetary, but it should be impactful.

Stanley Olisa, a Strategic Communications professional, writes from Lagos. Email- [email protected]

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