Structure plays a very important role in the growth of anything; to put things together, carefully creating and planning every move in advance of a common idea, vision, brand or person. It’s important to constantly co-ordinate. I start my article with this because it’s been the topic of the day, Nigeria and Africa’s complete lack of structure across almost every field. I’m not here to bore you about the politics and weak spots of Nigeria, neither am I here to preach about implementing structures. This is actually about music, talent management, branding, promotion, and all things that help direct the career of an artiste on her way to the top. Nigeria’s lack of structure crawls in countless spaces and has affected our music industry in ways that cripple it from within. Without structure, the growth and hard work of those promoting and pioneering African music keeps falling short, this needs to change and maybe it is already.
Over the past two years we’ve seen a wave of change across the scene, one I’ve been documenting closely; there’s fresh blood in our industry and the internet has exposed them to structure enough to want it in their own world to, the kids are more aware of their surrounding, they understand the music they create and what they deserve in turn, they understand the layers they need to reach their western counterparts and when they don’t, Google has their back. This new age of artistry in the music scene across Africa has poured in a wave in the music scene, there is much more diversity as you see minds creating management companies, focusing on the music business of things [something commonly neglected], branding, the identity of the artist and sounds. The music is broader and they want to be more involved. In respect to the ones directly behind the artiste, the managers. With people like Kimani Moore [Founder of Kimani Moore Ents], Bizzle, and Mayowa Balogun [whom I had the pleasure of interviewing today] all behind some of the brightest talents currently taking Africa by storm, you can feel the change and coordination in the air.
Mayowa Balogun, founder of BEAM Entertainment is one with an aim to bring structure to the music. BEAM Entertainment, a talent management company and Indie Record Label which he started with his partners Tade“LasGiiDi” Adepoju and Muyi Nehikhare in 2015, is a one stop shop for creatives of every form, not just helping with talent management and record label representation but also legal, personal, financial, etc.
“Ultimately we want creative people to focus on being creative and efficient with their work and not have to worry about anything else. So currently we are still far away from that vision but eventually our clients will have access to a full range to every service that they need to thrive. We don’t just want to be a company that exploits artistes and their work. We are also concerned with doing things how they should be done. Currently in Nigeria we lack structure so we are building from the ground up with the right foundations in place so that eventually we will get to a point where we have perfect structures and processes for our clients.” Mayowa shared, specifying: “It’s something that I’m very passionate about. At this point it’s almost a cliche but we need the structure desperately. The music is there, the people want to listen, the revenues are just waiting to be collected. Also it’s about protecting the artists and their rights. At BEAM, having that structure in place is the most important thing, it’s the reason we started and it’s what our whole business will be built on. Additionally, labels in Nigeria have so far done a poor job of transitioning artists to the next step in the event they don’t renew their deals, it’s something we think about as well.”
It’s obvious that the influx of new age minds in the music industry is positive leap into the future. These individuals need to find room to breathe and expand their dreams, to really educate the industry on modern ways we must approach our content and art. They have a lot to offer, as well as a lot to fix.
For me the new age is an idea, An idea that stems from a place of just complete total self expression. Nigerian millennials are defining their futures and working hard to live on their own terms. The new age is fearless, the new age is taking risks, the new age, the new age isn’t settling for the normal routine of life, most importantly though, the new age is working hard and is giving life their best shot.
Mayowa shares as he goes on to say “Personally, I know it’s a thing but I don’t believe the new age is about the sound, there are many new age artists that don’t sound that different from what we are used to, it’s just the approach now and the thought processes that are different, and that’s where the advantage is, in my opinion. When I look at the new age creative, their sound or their art comes from a deep place. They genuinely do it for the love, but they also want to do it right, the new age creative is much more educated and exposed, they also have much more access. The traditional Afro pop movement of recent times has come from a shallow place, many of the artists are in it for the wrong reasons, and they are in it for what they can get out of it today, they don’t worry much about their futures, that’s why most careers are short lived.”
Mayowa a young Nigerian based in Canada has aspirations on creating a fresh industry for African music and is making huge strides with his company BEAM, which already boasts a roaster of talent such as LasGiiDi, Lady Donli, WavyTheCreator, Olú, amongst others. I had to ask how he picked the talents he works with, he shared saying,
“Genuinely, I don’t personally say I pick the people I work with, I do, but ultimately I feel like they pick me simultaneously. You just know from the first time you vibe with them that these are the people you want to be around, we look at life the same way, we have similar goals and desires and we just all want to work and cut out the bullshit. Once you meet people like that, you know immediately that they have to be part of your life and vice versa.” He went on to share a bit on each of the artistes BEAM manages; “The first one is LasGiiDi, who is the reason I decided to fully get into management. His sound is very adaptable and versatile but the best way explain his sound is an illustration of his background. On coming across his music, he sounds like someone that grew up in Bariga with olamide and lil kesh, which is cool until you realize that he grew up in US and has only been back once in the last 14 years. (He’s basically an “akata” boy from the “igboro”). The next one is Olú. She has only one official single out but if you listen to her, talk with her or just vibe with her you’ll realize that despite her short catalog of songs, she’s deeply experienced, seasoned and focused. She knows her sound perfectly and she knows how to execute it. Lady Donli is someone I have personally admired from afar for ages, as dope as she is as an artist, she herself can be in management on the business side of music. The first time I spoke to her, I was shocked when she said she didn’t have a manager, a label or a full team, by herself she’s done more in her career than people do with a manager, a label with a full team. Finally, Wavy TheCreator, she’s probably the rawest and dopest and most versatile creative I’ve ever met. There’s nothing regarding art that she hasn’t been involved in. She already has fans that will almost die for her, that’s how much command she already has.”
Years and years have passed Africa without us really being in control of our world because we lack the foundations and structures needed to accurately put things in place, but it’s safe to say that things are shaping up. With music companies like; Euphonic Music, Chase Music, Official VI Music, Monster Boys, or management companies Kimani Moore Ent, BEAMEntertainment, all run by a much younger generation aiming to remodel the landscape, I’m excited to see what’s next. Mayowa agrees but warns, saying;
The future is obviously very bright. But with that brightness comes difficulties and challenges that we have to be prepared for. First of all. We just all have to be careful and take it in stride so as to avoid not being sucked up by the wave. We need to learn and experience as quickly as possible to keep up with the changing landscape, the more the revenues, the more the craziness.