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Why partnerships are important in building sustainable business models for music reality shows

By Taofik Bankole,

Music reality shows are popular for their mouthwatering benefits for participants and eventual winners. These benefits ultimately keep the interest in the shows alive, serving as the recipe for good ratings in a highly competitive era of reality shows.

In the past, participants at various levels of music talent shows have joyfully walked home with cash prizes, brand new cars, new apartments, and in many cases, recording contracts. But for the eye-catching monetary and property reward, critics have pointed out that music reality shows barely provide enough for participants in terms of career elevation, hence one of the reasons only a handful go on to attain global stardom. Perhaps what these music reality shows have so far lacked is a strategic career development and business models that could form a catalyst for the transformation of the raw talent into complete packages.

One of such career development and business models that have not been fully explored by organisers of music talent shows is partnerships. Strategic partnerships with reputable organisations, brands and even top-class individuals will in no small measure add an extra spice to the business models adopted by organisers and this will deliberately leave the contestants with a better chance at success.

Simply put, strategic partnerships are a prerequisite for the sustainable success of not just music talent shows, but any talent show at that. Having been a frontrunner in talent discovery and development in Africa over the years, MTN is creating an encouraging rule book for music talent shows with its latest attempt at youth empowerment, Y’ello Star.

In addition to the attractive monetary and property package for the winner, the Y’ello Star winner will walk home with 5 million naira cash prize, a brand new car, and a fully furnished apartment with a home recording studio. All contestants at the maiden edition of the music talent show will also have a rare opportunity to learn the art and business of music, courtesy of partnerships with institutions like the Berklee College of Music, the Henley Business School and Afrinolly Creative Hub.

These partnerships are reflective of MTN’s desire to create a platform for talented individuals to be seen and heard build, whilst also building capacity in the music industry beyond the competition. Henley Business School describes participants in its programmes as having an opportunity to be “enriched by up-to-date knowledge and research, interactive teaching and study projects.”

“At Henley, we apply academic theory to real-world examples to help bring business to life,”

Henley Business School’s contributions to the development of the contestants will include providing a series of entrepreneurship master classes and six months of extensive coaching to help equip them with entrepreneurial skills to have a successful career in the creative industry. With Henley’s program certification and induction, MTN Y’ello Star contestants will be exposed to a global network of professionals and business leaders, with the college boasting over 80,000 alumni in 160 countries.

Similarly, MTN’s partnership with the prestigious Berklee College of Music for the Y’ello Star project will see the winner get a rare opportunity to record and produce a song at the Berklee world-class studio in New York. All final 14 contestants will also go through an online music training program from the same school, while the top five finalists will win scholarships to attend the Berklee 2021 Summer Music Program. What this means is that beyond the opportunity of financial empowerment for the participants, Y’ello Star has been strategically put together to leave a long-lasting impact on participants’ careers as they chase their dreams.

The brilliance of these partnerships is that they form a three-pronged business model that benefit the participants, the organisers and partners alike. Henley Business School, for example, has been particular about strengthening its presence in West Africa for some time, and partnering with MTN on such a magnanimous show will open it up for a chance to reach its desired goal.

Indeed, the possibilities of deliberate partnerships during talent shows abound. As more talent shows emerge to unearth the next generation of music superstars, MTN Y’ello Star will raise its head high to set a standard for sustainable models through its peerless partnership with some of the world’s finest organisations. And it is only right that others follow.

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