Thursday, April 9, 2009

I am a keen observer of many things but my curiosity is usually at its peak when it comes to Nigeria's entertainment industry. I believe that it is the main legal avenue for the average Nigerian to distinguish themselves from the remaining 140 million and make good money in the process. A new breed of artists like Asa have been well received at home and abroad. Musicians like Shank have their music played at nightclubs in the Oxford area in Britain and those songs also remain on heavy rotation on Lagos airwaves. Musician and Producer Terry G makes music that young men working in any of Nigeria's many markets sing along to, and even I use for pace on my daily runs. Nollywood actresses like Stephanie Okereke have decided to venture into Hollywood and actors like Jim Iyke have decided to diversify their talent by releasing a rap song (I leave you to make your own conclusion on how successful that venture was). Their names are known by Africans everywhere, their product is loved in the Caribbean and even those not of the Diaspora are realizing that the Nigerian entertainment industry is a force to be reckoned with. These, and many other artists have a mass appeal that is unquestionable and they are taking advantage of this appeal like never before.

Nigerian artists - M.I. and Asa

Observing the creativity and success of many of Nigeria's entertainment stars, I wondered how exactly they made any money given the reality that piracy was, and remains, rampant. Nevertheless, Nigerians, being an ingenious lot, managed to make their money, and fame, despite the obstructions and the lack of a system that protects artists, and those who direct, produce and support them from having their work pirated. I soon learned that for Nigerian musicians, the key is to make party music, so they can book shows and make their money directly. As a result, Nigerian musicians constantly perform at home and around the world. And, as a consequence, I will have the pleasure of seeing Naeto C, 2008 winner of MTV Africa's Best New Musician Award, in a few days time not too far from my home.

Nigerian artists and entertainers are taking advantage of their fame and using it to make money outside the typical entertainment channels. Actresses like Genevieve Nnaji and Omotola Jalade Ekeinde have been the face of various products marketed and sold to Nigerians. And, considering the size of Nigeria's domestic market, there is still room for other entertainers to affiliate their brand and product with various businesses and corporate products. I even believe that one of my favorite rap songs, "Da Finest" by Knighthouse featuring Mo Chedda and others, could be easily manipulated to sell Blackberry phones and equipment to Nigerians and others on the continent (you will have to listen to the song to understand why).

Despite the growing success enjoyed by Nigerian artists, it seems that no one has managed to create a brand as well as musician D'Banj. An engaging performer with the ability to entertain and sway everyone from young children to old women, D'Banj came onto the music scene and in no time his music was used for everything - even political campaigns. Calling himself the "Koko Master" and his many female fans "Kokolettes", D'Banj has managed to not just cement himself in the Nigerian entertainment industry but he has succeeded in cementing his brand in Nigerian culture. There are talks of him selling 'Koko Garri', 'Koko Water' and even 'Koko Mobile' to anyone that will buy it, and given his popularity, I daresay many will. It is clear that D'Banj doesn't just want to be a musician or producer, he wants to be an entrepreneur.

And now, D'Banj will allegedly enter the foray of reality television. Reality television shows are very successful in Nigeria and shows like West African Idol, The Apprentice Nigeria, and Big Brother Africa have been a launching pad for many an individual. One reality contestant even went on to act in Nollywood films. But, D'banj's reality show will not focus on highlighting talented individuals. Well, actually it might focus on certain 'talents' because D'banj's upcoming reality show, The Koko Mansion, will have many women, living together to become his main kokolette, all be it for a short period of time. One can only imagine what talents will be displayed to win the ultimate prize. The show will apparently be based on VH1's Flavor of Love and if that show (all 3 seasons of it) is anything to go by, viewers and D'Banj himself must prepare themselves to expect the unexpected. At the end of the day, however, the Koko Master would have lined his pockets nicely with lots of Koko cash, and the show will be another experience used to further build and market his brand.

Nigeria's entertainment industry highlights how Nigerians can circumvent the failures of the government to create opportunities for themselves. Those who have managed to find success prove that despite the fact that the odds might be against them, enterprising individuals will always find a way to flourish. It will be interesting to watch as more Nigerian entertainers and even average Nigerians choose to brand themselves and market their brands to their personal advantage.These are definitely exciting, and interesting, times.

Hattip to Strictly Naija Music for introducing me to the 'Koko Mansion' story, and to Habeeb for enlightening me on 'Koko Garri'.

Related Articles of Interest:
- Economics of Nollywood: Price (written by guest writer, Oz)

- Using Nigerians to Re-Brand Nigeria
- Nigeria's Internet Future

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14 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

plastiQ said...

Dbanj, haba! not the Flavor of Love kinda show. Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Mola OG said...

I love this post right here... D'banj's reality show will definitely be a BIG one... I guarantee at least 3 seasons. Koko Garri? now that is hustling....

The piracy issue is a strong topic in the minds of many Nigerian artists; they loose a lot of money to the Alaba Marketers who pirate their music. I mean think about it, A D'banj will easily sell 5 million copies in Nigeria.. Now 5 Million time N100 is a sweet N500 Million... This already tells you how much these marketers are making from these artist's intellectual property, it can be very annoying and frustrating knowing that someone else is benefiting from stealing and selling a product that was birthed from your hard work and sweat. Hopefully in 5 years, the ALABA Music business model will change to a legal system where the artists can collect their royalties accordingly. It's only the government that can stop them.

In regards to making money from shows, you are totally right, this is the KOKO source of income where most artists expect to make a killing, but before you start getting show money, your music should already have a decent buzz on a local level... Unfortunately, it costs a lot of money to promote songs initially (some of the songs are SOLID too) on the radio, shoot videos and get exposure on TV (although Nigezie will play your video regardless) but shooting a good video in Nigeria is at least N1.5 Million... So if you don't have financial backing initially to promote your music, you might never be heard talk less of being invited to do a free show...

The industry is definitely growing and there is still a lot of money to be made... The Sky is the LIMIT...


@ PlastiQ: lol! Details on the show are not yet available, but of what we now know, its looking like a Flavor of Love type show. I am so sorry, oh! I wonder how far they will really be able to go, as Nigerians can be conservative (right or wrong). I am sure they will definitely try to push the boundaries.

Thanks for stopping by!

@ Mola OG: I am so glad you liked the post. Abeg, tell your people to come share their insight oh!

I definitely agree that the Alaba business model has to go, but unlike you, I do not think the government needs to get involved in this. Sadly, anything the government touches seems to not go too far. See 're-branding effort' as an example, lol!

What is needed is a private effort to create the protection necessary for artists and all those in the industry. I can't lie, I have thought about it for years, but have no contacts in the industry. Nevertheless, I am sure someone is coming up with an executable plan.

And, yes, there is money to be made in the industry and I hope people like you who work hard to give that industry the shine it deserves will be able to benefit as well. And when you do, feel free to send me flowers or something. =)

Femi B said...

Well he is the entrepreneur I must say. He's music very commercial and i guess that whats sells. I always used to mention a reality show like flavor of love. These is just something about trash tv that makes it interesting to watch...lol. I hope they keep it spicy and real.

Spesh said...

The entertainment industry is really booming but I'm not trying to hate or anything but I believe we can do better.....

.. said...

lol. koko garri...that would be a first..

Hana Njau-Okolo said...

Nigerian artists and entertainers could teach their Kenyan counterparts a thing or two about PR and Marketing. Kudos to them for their achievements.

If D'Banj's reality TV show should be interesting. I wonder about the clash of cultures in the dispensation of plot and theme? Will art imitate life or vice versa?

joicee said...

Obviously Dbanj is making himself into a brand ...That is the way the way to go, if one wants to stay relevent in the industry

About the realityshow I hope I can get a chance to watch... hopefullyy there will be no foolery in action

The Activist said...

D' Banj really had done a lot for himself. Kudos to him. Funke Akindele seems to be featuring into comedy these days and I was like waoh, it's good to see howelse one can utilise once talents


@ Femi B: "These is just something about trash tv that makes it interesting to watch...lol"

Indeed! It should be interesting to see how far the producers and 'cast' go given the conservative aspects of Nigerian culture.

Happy Easter!

@ MyWorld: There is no doubt that the Nigerian industry can do better. I think the fact that artists are working hard to meet not just the needs/tastes of Nigerians at home but the entire Diaspora will force them to increase their professionalism and product. Other African acts are doing that already, Nigeria should not be too far behind.


@ He Says...: Considering the importance of garri and other cassava products in the Nigerian and indeed West African diet, D'Banj's move into garri is a key means of padding his pocket with serious koko cash! Extremely smart move!

@ Joicee: I completely agree. Branding is the way to go for entertainers and even the average Nigerian that is business-inclined.

The show should be interesting and it would be great to watch it online. I'd check out a few episodes, for sure!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

@ Mama Shujaa: So good to see you! Who knows what will happen, but for sure such a show has the potential to challenge many of the conservative aspects of African culture. That could be good or bad, depending on how things unfurl, but who knows.

Hope all is well!

@ Standtall: My sista, it is indeed good to see how individuals can utilize their talents in diverse arenas. It is quite inspiring, actually. People do not have to limit themselves to one thing and if they work hard they can make money from various avenues.

Anonymous said...

At a point i grew tired of Dbanj and all the "koko" attachments. I dont think creativity is adding koko or kokolets in every song released, but i see its working for him....to each his own.
Of course koko mansion is going to be all about "koko" ....what else? Koko garri/water you say? I may be too "....." to buy that one; cant even concentrate on the image of a koko water/garri.
Of course, we know its gonna take more than one episode to get a suitable "kokolet" for the self proclaimed "koko master"

Anya Posh said...

LOL...at the KOKO mansion! Did you here about his koko-miscin, apparently it's his own brand of water/Pain killer...I don't even know anymore!
I think M.I is on another level, and so is ASA. I just hope they don't get sucked into the mediocrity of music produced by nigerian artistes. For an example of mediocrity, check out the one they call Eedris AbdulKareem LMAO!

Sisem E. Naidem said...

While I agree with you on the various other ways Naija acts are venturing into business opportunities, the fact remains that some of them burn out by spreading themselves too thin.
Take MI for instance, featuring on every track nowadays. Dude is good but he sure needs to watch whom he features with. Some of the tracks he has been on do reduce his quality and dull his shine. Same for Terry G giving his bits to every Tom, Dick and Sally.
As for D'Banj, the KOKO tag is becoming over-flogged and we Naija peeps are a faddish lot. I pray his Koko Mansion experiment works out otherwise it might turn out to be another Big Brother debacle...
PS: Sorry for the late comments. PC issues..

Tariere said...

There's already something called kpo-kpo garri, so koko-garri might not be so bad after all!! LOL

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