Google hosted a two-day Residency Programme in Nairobi for creators who identify as Alternative and Non-mainstream.
Similar to a bootcamp, the two-day program was aimed at upskilling and celebrating these young creatives. The Alternative Movement, colloquially known as the ‘Alté Movement’, traces its roots to Lagos, Nigeria, where young Africans embrace the idea of being misfits or non-conformists. The movement champions for unconventional self-expression in all aspects of life but mainly through music, fashion and visual arts.
Historically alternative youth culture is rarely recognised in mainstream media, therefore creators have turned to YouTube to connect with their audiences because there are no barriers of entry.
Speaking during the Residency, Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Communications and Public Relations Manager for Google West Africa said, “It’s exciting to see creators that identify as non-mainstream find community on our platform. This comes just a few days after we announced a call for applications for the YouTube Black Voices Fund for 2023 aimed at elevating marginalised voices.
Background: Google Africa Celebrates Alté
The Alté Community is an emerging culture that is uniquely African and is increasing in popularity among the Gen Z demographic. Alté, short for ‘Alternative’, originated as an avenue for unconventional self-expression that transcends the traditional. At the centre of the Alté movement, is the desire to remain sincere to oneself regardless of existing traditions or cultural restrictions.
The Alté movement arguably has its origin in Nigeria, with musical Artists like Teezee, BOJ, Tems, Odunsi and Lady Donli driving the movement but the sub-culture is visible among young Africans across the continent. Sichangi, from Kenya and Amaarae from Ghana are among the musical artists from other parts of Africa who are propagating Alté sounds. Beyond music, Alté has grown as a lifestyle and its influence is also visible in fashion and the visual arts. Mowalola and Tse are some of the creative influencers that are driving the Alté movement in fashion and photography respectively.
There is also a growing number of creative entrepreneurs in the Alté community. These young individuals are running their own businesses and thriving within Africa’s creative ecosystem. By optimising the internet, they are carving their distinctive identity and propagating the growth of the Alté community in Africa.
Google, through the Alté Residency is spotlighting and contributing to Africa’s cultural zeitgeist by exposing Alté creatives and expressionists to skills that can be harnessed through the lens of YouTube, YouTubeShorts, Search and Google Arts & Culture and enable creatives to scale up in their businesses and career.
The Alté Residency is an exclusive residency hosted and curated by Google Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. The goal of the residency is to provide a platform for creatives in Africa who identify as alternative/ non-mainstream to engage with Google.
It will also be an opportunity to upskill African Alté creatives with relevant career skills by using specific online platforms (YouTube, YouTube Shorts, Search and Google Arts & Culture) to help them connect better with their audience and harness value as they move the Alté culture forward.
Google’s role in boosting Africa’s creative economy
Globally, the creative economy is projected to reach a global valuation of $985 billion by 2023 and this represents 10 percent of global GDP before 2030. The creative economy in Africa has recorded massive growth as a result of the influence of the internet. Artists, musicians, creators and filmmakers now have the opportunity to connect with a global audience using digital platforms like YouTube, Search and YouTube Shorts.
Google is committed to helping these creatives thrive, and providing a platform for diverse voices and expressions.
YouTube growing communities and collaborations
In 2020, billions of people came to YouTube to share skills, launch businesses, and positively impact their communities.
YouTube has become a mainline for African artists to connect all over the globe, exporting African music to fans around the world and enabling collaborations within the global and regional music industry. Cultural movements grow and build on YouTube: African music is one example along with K-Pop, Latin music, and more. YouTube has played an essential role in the discovery and development of African sound, exporting African music to listeners worldwide. Of the 25 most watched Sub-Saharan-Africa artists on YouTube, more than 70% of their views come from outside Africa
What’s behind this?
- Global reach of YouTube (2 billion monthly users) helps artists leapfrog radio and other traditional distribution, taking music beyond borders. Millions of people are coming online for the first time, which means a lot of new people accessing, creating and sharing content on YouTube.
- No barriers to entry on YouTube. Creators can upload and get music out to the world. And vice versa: African creatives can use YouTube to absorb sounds, looks and ideas from around the globe. Hybrid sounds and pan-African collaborations have exploded as a result.
- With videos on YouTube, you can see the culture, fashion and dances, which are helping the sound of Africa to spread. “Johnny” by Yemi Alade has over 100 million views in part due to its viral dance moves and fan videos.
YouTube is committed to supporting the music ecosystem in Africa including artists, labels, and creators:
- Burna Boy was the first Nigerian Artist on the Rise in November 2018 and featured in an Artist Spotlight Stories Burna combines the rich culture of Nigeria with the modern sounds of America to break down barriers as a driving force in the rise of Afrobeats around the world, harnessing the global power of YouTube.
- Nigerian artist-entrepreneur Mr Eazi teamed up with YouTube Music for “Life is Eazi Vol. II: Lagos to London” to bring to life the Lagos To London artwork – a yellow double decker bus, symbolising two of the most recognisable forms of transport from both cities
- British-Nigerian artist Maleek Berry is a part of YouTube Music’s international independent artist development program, Foundry, receiving marketing promotion and best practices for growing and engaging their audience on an international scale.
- YouTube announced an initiative to support Nigerian artists, teaming up with Mr Eazi’s emPawa Africa to support 10 local artists to build their craft, increase their fanbase and connect with the world through YouTube.
- African artists & creators who have found a massive audience to build their careers on YouTube include: Youssou Ndour, Prince Arts Music, TV Production company Art Bi Manageman, Ubunifu Space, JRafrika, Nasty C, among many others.
YouTube Black Voices Fund Class
The Black Voices Fund, Class of 2023, is now open for applications. The fund created in 2020 recognizes and equips Black creators, artists, songwriters, and producers with the resources and support to enable them to thrive on YouTube.
As part of the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund Class of 2022, each of the 26 African YouTubers selected received seed funding alongside dedicated support to help them develop their channels. They also took part in bespoke and hands-on training, workshops and networking programmes.
The 2021 BVF cohort included 133 grantees hailing from the United States, Kenya, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, and Nigeria-with 26 creators and artists from Africa.
Africa Day Commemoration
In May, YouTube commemorated Africa Day with a series of initiatives including sessions targeted at creators in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, and the popular Africa Day concert which is now in its 3rd edition. As with previous years, Africa Day was leveraged as a platform to showcase our ongoing commitment to the region through products and initiatives that empower people and businesses.
As with previous editions, the Africa day concert was also leveraged to reaffirm YouTube’s ever-growing role in propagating Afrobeats globally. The 2022 Africa Day concert included an in-person recording session, and a virtual Livestream to hold on back-to-back days, unlike previous editions which were only live-streamed virtually on YouTube.