Ex-Lil Kesh Manager, Wale Applause Reveals Shocking Revelations On Nigeria Music Industry ” A True Story Of An Artiste Manager & Lessons For All Aspiring Talent Managers by Wale Applause ”
Let me start by saying Talent Management is not a Job, IT IS A CALLING. Maybe Promotions is a job, but i repeat, Talent Management is not a job. My name is Olayinka Babawale Applause, I was Olamide Baddo’s PR for a bit before he blessed me with Lil Kesh just when he had just recorded Shoki. I will start by showing appreciation to every Blogger, Social Media PR, Dj, Alaba DJ, Alaba Marketer, Satellite and Local Tv stations, just everyone who was around at any point in time during the period of my 11 years stay in the industry.
Yes 11 years, i am sure you wondering why i quit. Smart people know when to move on.
As much as possible, i am not popular especially facially as i often get doubted whenever i introduce myself as Wale Applause, I guess i am a big man in a small body.
I started with Applause Magazine, then on and on the rest now is history. If i tell you say he easy, na set up.
Over time i have seen artiste rise and fall and rise again to fall again. I have seen artistes grow from baby to Giant, at least i created one ‘Lil Kesh’ myself before he thought i was no longer of use to him. He already became a star, i guess his career can tell the story now.
Why did i say this, it is because i am trying to pass a message to all new artistes, Never bite the hand that fed you. You see the thing about that manager that helped you ‘blow’ like we call it, NEVER EVER LET HIM GO IF YOU ARE NOT DOUBLE SURE OF A REPLACEMENT.
That manger that was with you when it was rough, that one that will stay awake even when you are sleeping, that’s what real love is, because you know what. Talent management entails giving up your life for someone else. For the first time, let me say this, i gave over 2 years of my life to Lil kesh, God used me and Olamide to make him a star. I remember well when i will put all my friends on the road, all the way from Sango to Elegushi to push Shoki. God bless my friend Dj Consequence, he knows the story.
There were many days i had to sleep in my rickety Honda, days my friends Aspen and the gang will go to the club to spend money just so Shoki can be played, those days when all that mattered to me was raising a king, Alas, HE SACKED ME.
As a talent manager, i need you to understand that you are giving your life away to that artiste you think you love so much, question is not if you are ready, the real question is if the artiste is worth it.
First my advice is this, as an artiste manager, Music to you is first a product not just a collection of sound. You need to understand that you are not the target market. You don’t have to like a song to push it, you just need to understand what market you are pushing the song to. I honestly did not like Shoki at first listen, but i knew the market to push it to, the kids because it sounded like Nursery rhyme. Every song has a target market, find it.
The music industry is a capital intensive one and believe me everyone is on the look out to collect money from you. Do not believe 2 faced OAPs like Osi of beat Fm, who come online to act all helpful. Trust me i have been there done that, he is part of the no pay, no show.
I trust him to be defensive about this when he reads this so i am going to give you an instance.
Before Lil Kesh, I was working with a super talented, humble kid named Spicy. We had a song Lenu produced by D’tunes. Now about D’tunes, he is one person you want to get close to. I wish he established a Talent management company because asides knowing how to make music, he knows how to sell music. Iyanya and Sean Tizzle are testimonies. D’tunes is one humble dude you need in your corner.
Here is a secret a lot of people will not tell you, the less popular you are as a talent manager, the more effective you will be. It makes it easy for you to get the job done. Do not go all about like Danku, you wont get anything done because instead of representing your artiste, you will be representing YOU.
Now back to the Osi matter, i waited till this day to tell the story. As a rookie manager back in the days, Osi was a rookie OAP too, i like to work with people like that because in my head we trying to help each other grow, i thought wrong. Back when Osi used to be the errand boy in Beat fm before the advent of twitter which made him a pseudo celebrity. He was on the midnight show and back then i paid him good money. I cannot specifically remember the amount, but i am sure it was good money because YES i used to throw money around, ask about me. I would always have to stay awake at midnight to listen in to his show,he would not play my music. I would call, he picks when he likes then i will beg him to play my music, at least i paid for it. Sometimes he played, but at a time when we both know most human beings are sleeping, i wonder who he was playing for. This was a time Beat Fm was the Alpha and Omega of radio. Another person you do not need in your corner is Olisa of Beat fm, he most likely will charge you in dollars. In short as an artiste manager, throw Beat Fm and all the OAPs away, you do not need them. Forget what you been told. They never played lil Kesh’s shoki and Oritshefemi’s Double wahala until they became monster hits.
When you looking to plug a newbies song on radio, here are the places you should go. Your first point of call now is Soundcity radio. Make Ilo and Awazi your friend, they NEVER request money, trust me Awazi made me a refund, she never collects money to play a song. You need a radio station that can give you at least 3 times daily, if you don’t that get it is a waste of money. Go to City Fm, back in the days when Shosleek used to be there, that was a real G. When they promise to play your song, they play well. Walk into Faji fm, Eko fm, Traffic radio they have numbers but they are underrated. These are radio stations that can give you proper airplay for people to notice. Also in all you do, make sure your song gets to Brilla Fm. They will also charge you but they will do a good job. Brilla fm has a dedicated audience, dont joke with it.
In the beginning, artistes are usually under control, they feign humility don’t be carried away. Read between he lines, i saw the signs but i ignored. I remember one day during the heat of promotion, i drove Kesh, Viktoh and Dj Enimoney to Star Fm. Know what they did, they beat the gate man. I mean proper beating. I had to do a lot of damage control for the news not to get out. I am sure till today they must have thought its because they are celebrities. Tueh!
The signs are always there, always look for them. Even where they are not obvious, find them.
Always have a plan B. By plan B, i mean always have something else that brings you money.
A lot of people till date think music just grow, no it doesn’t Artiste managers place the song strategically to make it seem like it is everywhere. I remember when i will go all the way from Sango to Ikorodu to push Shoki without the knowledge of the entire YBNL crew, i wanted to make my own artiste. I wanted to put my name in the sand of time. I could do anything for Kesh at the time. Mobola and Desmond2dG of Splash Fm can bear me witness about how i will come to Ibadan to promote the song. Who knew that, Me. What was i trying to achieve? I was trying to make star.
I remember when Olamide dropped YBNL album, that was my first major project. God bless Baddo, he loved me so much. I got some Cds from him, i signed them myself in his name drove down to Ibadan and was handing it out to all radio stations, telling them Ola sent me, where as, i sent myself. You wonder why YBNL have so much fan base in Ibadan and Ikorodu, I did that. I laid the foundation.
Another thing is that you need to be impulsive, take decisions and live with the consequences. Your head tell you go to Club Royale now, just go damn the consequences if you know the dj or not, walk up to him. he is just another human being. Always think outside the box. In thinking outside the box, take your promo out of Lagos. People in lagos are too busy to notice a growing song. Most of the songs you eventually hear in lagos have been doing well in other places a good example is Wetin we gain by Victor Ad, lagos people got it last and made it theirs, always look to achieve that. Take your song to Ibadan, the money you will spend to promote on 2 radio stations in Lagos will get the entire Ibadan playing your song. Walk into Ray Power Ibadan, ask after Kolade Dominate, tell him Wale Applause sent you or go to Splash FM. ask after Edwin Paul, the whole of Ibadan is covered.
While you read this, say a big thank you to Notjustok.com, they pioneered music blogging. There was a time to get your song on that site, Ovie would say submit and pray, if men were God. Notjustok is a good site to have your song, but trust me your audience is not there. God bless the days when Dellyma was with Naijaloaded,com, he always knew how to strategically place your song on the site, he knew the peak periods. Invest in Naijaloaded and Tooxclusive, this is where Street djs download music and best believe if your song is good, most of them will play. HOTT category on Tooxclusive, Song of the week on Naijaloaded, quite expensive but do your best to be there.
Do not be fooled, we all doctor numbers, Youtube, Soundcloud. The way we do it is the difference. While some buy virtual views, some of us buy real view which wouldn’t amount to fans, but we need the numbers, viewers will not watch a video with 18 views. What we do is advertise the link, it gets published on Asian sites, you know the population in Asia,YES that’s what we all do, forget about the congratulatory artworks about millions of views. Yes they are real views but they do not amount to your fan base, indeed you need the numbers. Think i am lyinh check www.pushpowerpromo.com. That is where most of your music distributors go, there are others though but this is very effective, cheap, real views and accept Nigerian cards.
Let me give you another story about why at a point in my life i used to wear only knickers, socks and slippers.
Lil Kesh’s first ever show was Cotonou, i am sure he must have thought his song got that big. Shior. I remember my friend Tayo in Cotonou at the time who i spoke to about pushing Lil kesh hard in Cotonou. We forced the students to listen to only him hereby creating a demand. Yes there was a demand but there was no finance. I asked them how much they had, they 50k. I told them to push harder and after many days all they had was 80k. I knew 80k was no going to fly with Olamide as we had a 40;40;20 sharing formula at the time. I got 20 while they got 40 a piece, fantastic sharing formula, i of those reasons i will forever respect Olamide. Told the boys to send their 80k, i personally added my 20k since i knew it was coming back to me. Want to know why i did this? I needed to boost Lil Kesh’s career. What is an artiste without a performance. I needed to also make myself look good too. I called the team to say we had a show, a whooping 100k. I got back my 20k, we had a show, went to Cotonou and back. He became a star.
Always make your artiste look good.
Now about why i used to wear only Knickers. I was managing a budding artiste at the time but my account balance was red. I could not finance the life of an ideal artiste manager, there had to be another option. I had rent to pay, my siblings, everyday life, i knew i could not finance the Versace and Louis Vuitton, the best route to go was to play the humility card. At this time my percentage had been slashed to 10 percent because Young jonn needed to be paid. It did not matter to me, all i wanted was to make my own star. Lil Kesh’s fee at the time was about 400k, what will a man like me do with 40k which wasn’t consistent, but i was fine. I kept managing hoping for that day when we start charging millions and my 10 percent will mean much, i lied. I had to result to Knickers, socks and slippers, that was what i could afford.
It became a trade mark, at first i did not like it but i never wore it on my face. It was easy for me because i barely had any friends in the industry, this is another lesson to learn. You have no friends in the industry, NONE.
For a man who had gone through all these to nurture a bariga boy from Sodiq to Lil Kesh, i deserved better, but what do i care.
Here is the reason why i got sacked the first time. I cannot be very specific about the time, but it was when Shoki and Dorobucci were blowing at the same time. My sources said to me that Don Jazzy had gone to lobby the MTV base award for Dorobucci and Reekado Banks was going to come on stage to get the award. I was told that what that translated to was that Reekado Banks was going to win Next Rated at the Headies. I had worked so hard than to make that happen. Now we had Shoki, Gbese, Efejoku. I tried my best but i was just one person. Alas Dorobucci won the award and just as told, Reekado banks was on stage to get it. I went bonkers. Abfresh who was to later manage Lil Kesh just got back from Uk at the time and was staying at my place. I was so sad, i went on twitter and rant. I did rant and mention Don Jazzy well. Then i called Olamide’s attention to my tweets, told him i was sorry it was just a moment of madness, i had rights to be angry. I got a shocker the next day when Olamide told me i wouldn’t manage Lil Kesh again because of a twitter rant from someone like me, only for him to go on the stage at the headies to declare Lil Kesh Winner himself. I am sure we all remember how that went. I remember watching the Headies in my father’s house in Ibadan as i was jobless, i cried when Lil Kesh wasn’t given the Award, i wanted him to win it for me. I thought my night was bad enough, not until Olamide came on stage to rant and i started wailing. My parents could not console me. I was wailing because all i did was rant on twitter and i became jobless for several months, Olamide goes on stage to disorganize a well organized award and he is tagged a hero even by himself. This pot of beans life.
As an artiste manager, learn to fight for yourself alone. Just when the millions was coming, YBNL let me go. It broke me, coupled with the fact that i was going through a lot in my relationship with Mobola at the time. As an artiste manager, always look out for you and you alone.
About the Djs, I will mention one Dj you do not need when your career is budding or trying to germinate. YOU DO NOT NEED DJ SPINALL. If you work with him, you would hate yourself. Forget the hype, when you blow, he will come kissing your as$. He is usually like that. only a good person on social media also if and when you are a celebrity/ As an artiste manager and new artiste, avoid Dj Spinall like a plague. Dj Consequence, Dj Ruud, Dj Debby, Dj Factor, Dj Prince, Dj Spicy there are a few of the uptown djs you need, but you would not go empty handed. Anything less than 100k and you will be wasting your time and money. You can do 100k and above, you are in good hands.
One Uptown Dj that will always stand out for me is Dj Neptune. Look for him, become his friend, make him like you and you good.
When you need to plug your song on the mainland, here are your point of call. Club Royale is your number one spot. 3 djs operate there. Man mark DJ Xmix, he will show you round the others. These people just want to be appreciated, and they will surprise you with airplay. Another Dj you need is Dj Khoded, sadly all of a sudden he became all about the koney and he started rejecting 50k too, what social media can do. DO not forget Pecas in Ikeja, go there as much as possible. let everyone there know your face. Give the girls your cds do whatever you can. IF you still have more funds to spare, contact DJ Kaywise, he wont do anything without money, but when you pay and he gets your song, you will get instagram posts of him dancing and scratching your music. Money well spent. Another Dj you do not need is DJ Kentucky. I don’t even know where he is anymore. Do not be carried away by the name. Dj Leezy Ace of former The place ikeja, Dj JP Money of Elegushi, great guys.All these Djs i mentioned, if you need to get anything done with them and you thinking about how to approach them, mention my name, say i sent you but only if you have their cash because the name Wale Applause is synonymous to money to them. I always come bearing fruits.
Let me conclude this first part by telling you a bit about Alaba. Before i go there, Always have it at the back of your mind that not every song you push will blow, always know when to move on to the next song. Let us journey down memory lane as i remind you about the song Last card by Lil Kesh. When i first heard the song in the studio, i knew it could not match up with the hype of Shoki, but the artistes wanted it to drop. I am a music seller, i am the one on the streets, i blew Shoki, i know what the people wanted, but they wouldn’t listen. It was released. When i saw what the song was doing in days, i told every top blogger at the time to kill the hype, Don Boye formerly of Tooxclusive, now with Notjustok would bear me witness, i knew it could not sell, so i took the hype away from it, made it look like a freestyle, then dropped Gbese. Gbese was a hit song from the studio. Was easy for me to work with. Lest i forget, Don Boye of Notjustok is one young man you need in your corner.
About Alaba, do not be deceived, till the end of your career you will always need Alaba. They propagate your music, those mixtapes go as far as Australia, but there is a trick to it. Before your song can be noticed on Alaba mixtape, it takes consistent effort. You need to have 5 djs, 5 Marketers and 3 graphics guys on your pay roll for at least 6 months. Marketers are igbo men, so whenever you call a meeting, make sure you go with a bottle of Hennessy for each person asides the cash. Igbo men dont joke with their drink, its a sign of good tidings. Whenever you need to go to Alaba, NEVER, i repeat NEVER enter the market. There is a Tantalizers just before the market, set up the meeting there and make sure you are there before the marketers, they dont waste time. Never ever meet Alaba Djs and Marketers at the same time. Hold the meeting in different batches, but let the Djs know you have seen the marketers, that way they can easily work. Trusted marketers you will need are Person Entertainment, Upright Entertainment, Olowo, Baby Face, Biggie with an addition of Moving train. You can add more, but these guys are top notch. Do not act smart by giving them different amounts, always give them the same thing. Be dedicated toward it as it can take months, take cue from the Shaku Shaku movement, they have been pushing it way before you even noticed. The djs you need are Dj Double Sound, Dj Morebeatz, Dj Mellowshe, lets these 3 decided the remaining 2 they will like to work with. Now about the graphics artistes, you need that person who will make sure your face is on the jacket even if your song is not on the mix, one young man can work the magic, his name is Kenzy. Indeed you need Kenzy for your entire alaba movement. He is the guy who will set up the Dj and Marketers meetings for you, do not do it yourself. You will not regret knowing Kenzy especially when you mention my name. May God forever bless him for me. Very hardworking and honest.
As i look to conclude this part, be careful of people like Osi, Spinall etc. They make your clients perceive you like a thief because they will collect your money and not play the song.
In the next chapter we will talk about a few other things, Tv, Customized mixtapes etc, but worthy of note is Olamide Adedeji of Soundcity. Not a lot of people like him and i would tell you why in the next episode, but know that Olamide Adedeji of Soundcity can single handedly make you famous.
Till i see you again.
King Wale Applause.