Dr. Kester Okechukwu Ezuma better known as “Mr. Infinite”, is a Nigerian entrepreneur, businessman, sports consultant/manager, creative industry professional, public speaker, and humanitarian. He is currently the chairman of Infinite Group. He obtained his Master’s in Business Administration (Leadership & Strategic Management Major) from the University of America in Murrieta, California, USA.
He is also the founder of Infinite International Sports Academy and KK Entertainment, which is his first record label, and recently Infinite Music and Entertainment.
In this interview with our correspondent, he talks about his foray into the music and entertainment industry, the challenges of running an indie label, and the global rise of Afrobeats.
What is your name? Who is Mr. Infinite? How did the name come into existence?
My name is Kester Okechukwu Ezuma better known as “Mr. Infinite”. I am a Nigerian Entrepreneur, Entertainment and Executive Sports Administrator, Music Producer, Humanitarian and Music Executive.
The name “Mr. Infinite” was coined from my business name Infinite Group by my friends and business associates.
You are the founder/CEO of Infinite Music and Entertainment. Tell us about the label?
Infinite Music & Entertainment is one of Africa’s fast-rising record labels with its headquarters in Nigeria and America. “We’ve got big projects coming next year. We have major singles on the way, there’s a few EPs and albums, a couple of artists that we’re gonna be breaking out, some international collaborations also. We have a whole lot of stuff coming and it’s going to be a busy year for us”.
“We work collaboratively with our artists across the board. A huge part of the global appeal of African artists is their authenticity. So there’s great care in building the artist proposition, so we support the vision and authenticity rather than constructing something else entirely.” Infinite Music & Entertainment is set for both the local and international scene.
Aside from Ada King, do you have any other artists signed to your label? Are you planning to sign some in the near future?
“Yes we have a list of fantastic artists in our label roster, some are on probation, while Ada King remains our vocal point of focus”.
Why did you decide to step away from your other business and go into music and entertainment?
The music industry today locally and globally is a major contributor to youth employment and empowerment. Its current value doesn’t represent “food for the soul’’ only, but as well “food for the pocket”. There have been several studies that can prove that the entertainment industry is now one of the major contributors to the Nigerian economy.
Also, a study conducted by Statista in Nigeria revealed that the music sector’s revenue grew from 26 million US dollars in 2014 to 34 million dollars in 2018. This figure according to the research and projection by Statista, is expected to grow to 44 million dollars by 2023 making it a good platform for investment and we have chosen to invest in the music and Entertainment sector.
In these times that most artists are looking to align with a major label, you have decided to set up your own imprint and sign artists. What’s your motivation for doing so?
Infinite Music is going to be introducing innovations into the mainstream music industry, we are not just going to be doing things the normal way. We are set to do things differently and let others see and emulate. Furthermore, we have identified areas that need to be strengthened across Nigeria’s mainstream music and Entertainment sector.
There are a lot of talented artists in Africa. What are the challenges you face as an independent label?
Some say piracy is the biggest threat facing the Nigerian entertainment industry; some say it is the lack of a proper distribution network, but I believe that musicians are the biggest problem in the music industry. “I think we’re growing, but as usual, the issue has always been that of piracy and structure, but the biggest problem is the musicians because how artists perceive their job is how other people will perceive it.
There is a lack of understanding of the music business on the part of artists. If there’s anything musicians are suffering from in this country, I have finally come to realize that we must take responsibility for our work. Until we stand up to say that we want our industry to get better than the way it is, it won’t get better.
Having said that, we need help from the government and stakeholders to combat piracy. The artists must also take their jobs seriously; all we need to do is pay more attention.
However, when it comes to fake lifestyle, I think that’s a problem with music all over the world. The Fake-it-to-make-it mentality may work for some people, but in infinite we tell our artists to try to cut their coats according to their size.’ Artists signed to record labels have limited creative control, and also, the record labels in Nigeria will want the largest percent of the income, but we think differently.
Are you looking for partnerships with major players like Empire, Universal, Mavin, or Chocolate City?
Yes we’re looking forward to partnering with major industry stakeholders such as Kennis music, Mavin, and other renowned labels. We cannot overemphasize that experience has a major role to play if we succeed, the labels I mentioned above are at the forefront of the revolution in the music industry in Nigeria within the last 2 decades that have impacted the industry’s growth positively. So we are already having consultations with the above names to boost our chances especially as we are just making a return back to our fatherland.
Are you planning on signing new artists, and what are your criteria for signing new talent?
“Yes we are, we have already launched a Nationwide talent hunt and it’s yielding results. We have discovered some talents already and their contracts are being prepared by our legal department at the moment.
Where do you see Infinite Music in 3 years? How do you cope with running your other businesses alongside the record label?
I see Infinite music as the biggest entertainment outfit in Africa in the next three years, we are working round the clock to achieve that feat. In such terms, you work it and not just say it.
There are a lot of other indie labels around Africa, some have folded up and some have gone defunct. What makes Infinite Music different from the others?
Infinite is here to stay and will not liquidate. We have put in place a structure that will outlive my time on Earth as the CEO, one of the problems we have in Africa is our constant failure to sustain wonderful initiatives. In other to have a sustainable structure, we have put together a policy framework that we are currently implementing.
What are your plans to level the playing field and how do you plan to cope with the competition?
In all honesty, we just want to use the platform we have to shine a spotlight on many creative talents that are underground. The field will level itself. No competition, no battle, just distribution of creative spotlights.
Nigerian/African artists are doing great around the world right now. Afrobeats as a genre is globally going mainstream. Do you think it has come to stay or just a trend that will fizzle out with time?
The spotlight is permanent, well I at least hope so. But the truth is that this attention and spotlight on the music of African origin has been long coming.
What should people reading this interview expect from Infinite Music going forward?
People should expect a dynamic coming. A new rise! A new switch of trajectory within the common genres of music. A new generation is coming.
If you are given the chance to start over, is there anything you would change about your life or change the way you did it?
Well, I think God has helped me with good decision-making over the years, if I’m given the opportunity, I think I should have been here earlier than now contributing my quarter to the development of Nigeria through the music and Entertainment sector.
What’s your advice for upcoming artists or anyone interested in building a career in music/entertainment?
I will say it in one sentence, if you have a dream, pick it up and stick to it like your body cream!