In this interview with The Entertainer, Ugbaja Emeka Augustine, also known as Dr Whyte, a music executive and the CEO of Southnice Records gives an insight on why big investors are scared of investing in Nigerian artistes.
Senegalese born American Singer Akon in a recent interview made a statement that almost threw the music industry into internal conflicts; in his quotes: African artistes don’t honor contracts. What’s your honest opinion on this statement?
He is right, that is one of the biggest issues currently facing the music and entertainment industry in general. A lot of artistes just need a platform, an investor to get their dreams out to the world and immediately they get what they want; they move on. Artistes never keep to the contract and no matter how much you try to stop them, if you are not big enough to fight them; you end up loosing in the fight to get your investments back.
Do you think this is the major reason why we no longer have record labels in the industry today?
Obviously, a lot of people are scared to put money into record deals lately because they have heard stories of how a lot of big investors splashed millions on several artistes and immediately they get a juicer offer from a bigger label; they dump that contract without serving the duration of the agreement.
What measures do you think should be put in place to fix this issue?
I think artistes should be made to swear an oath in a shrine that would have consequences of death penalty if they bridge any of the contract terms. In that way, a lot of people will be serious about having to stay with a label until the contract elapses no matter the outcome of their agreement.
Do you think this measures will work?
People especially Nigerians only fear contracts when it has consequences and swearing an oath will help instill a consciousness in the mind of these artistes especially the ambitious ones who believe they can flaunt a label after one year like the likes of Zlatan Ibile, Lil Kesh and the tests.
How would you rate the current industry in Nigeria especially the music and movie industry; is there any hope for greater opportunities?
Even a blind man can tell that there has been a turn around in the industry. From an improvement in the quality of our music videos, movie productions, sound and music distribution; there is no limit to what is set for the industry in no distant time. I am very confident that soon we will be having Hollywood want to do movies with our stars while other foreign artistes beg for features with our stars.
Our own African Giant Burna Boy was recently nominated for Grammy awards which he lost out to Angelique Kidjo; do you think the judges were fair on giving it to Mama Africa?
The Grammy is not a playground for kids. It’s the Grammy awards, every artiste’s dream is to make music in order to be nominated for a Grammy award. The moment I saw the nomination list with Angelique Kidjo on it, I knew she was going to win that category. Mama Africa is the last of a kind. She is our ancestral living legend, so giving her the award over Burna Boy wasn’t a compensation but a merit for her years of labor and consistency in redefining and telling the African story in her native dialect. She deserved that Award over Burna Boy. Also I am proud of Burna Boy because it shows that there is hope for any young artiste out there doing music to get inspired that the world is finally paying attention to African music & Nigeria is the next big flame to sleep across the globe.