by Isioma Osaje
One young man decided to share his thoughts on all things cool from his PC; now the entire nation has to dance to his tune
Dagrin’s C.E.O. Album was the first album NotJustOk put up on their site for sale. Lami and Omawumi’s albums would follow suit. They cut their teeth on Banky W’s W Experience, broke the bank with MI2, and almost repeated the feat in 2011 with Wizkid’s Superstar.
A FEW remarkable things happened on the 23rd day of November, 2010 when NotJustOk released MI’s second studio album. For instance, MI2 would go on to trend worldwide on Twitter, I had a copy of what some argue was “the” album of 2010 and most of all NotJustOk would establish itself as a defining force in Nigerian music.
Five years ago it would have been unheard of, for a music website to do what our friends at Alaba have made a birth right: today, NotJustOk is one of the leading market places for the sales of any Nigerian album worth its onions.
They make it possible for Nigerians and fans of Nigerian music outside the motherland to get a copy of their favourite acts’ newest offerings fresh out of the oven.
NotJustOk, was conceived by Ademola Ogundele, better known as “Mola” sometime in June 2006.
Mola would look to a Seth Godin book Purple Cow to give him ideas for a name. The book’s theme centred on being remarkable. He settled on NotJustOk; because he reasoned that “Anything better than just OK is way better than OK”. Ovie “OvieO” Ofugara would later come on board, first as an employee, and then as partner. NotJustOk, now referred to simply as NJO, started as a personal blog. “My aim was to showcase things that I had experienced and I thought I needed to expose some aspects of my lifestyle, which happened to include Nigerian music,” Mola recalls.
The evolution into fully functional music website was fuelled by the aftermath of 9ice’s performance at Nelson Mandela’s 90th anniversary concert. Mola OG put up a clip of this performance on his blog and traffic went up 500%. He instantly knew it was time to focus more on the music. So NJO began to actively put up download links to new music from established and upcoming Nigerian acts.
And now, they can’t stop.
Ok or not
Unfortunately not every song is NotJustOk, and for every 10 songs the guys put up, 100 are discarded. So yes, the guys are famous, but in more than a few circles, they are also unpopular.
“I could write a book on this alone,” Mola says. “There are loads of hate and loads of love, but we’d rather focus on the love. We’re happy to say that we have a large group of followers across the world that visit the site on a daily basis and appreciate what we do. These are the people that keep us going.”
Here’s some trivia for the history books. Dagrin’s C.E.O. Album was the first album NotJustOk put up on their site for sale. Lami and Omawumi’s albums would follow suit. They cut their teeth on Banky W’s W Experience, broke the bank with MI2, and almost repeated the feat in 2011 with Wizkid’s Superstar.
So surely this is profitable business. But asides sales, NJO began to organise competitions for visitors to the site. Most notable of which were the “Beat By Sarz” showdown, the Kid Konnect Beat Tape Competition, the eLDee Top Talent Competition (Producer Edition) and the hugely popular Don Jazzy Enigma Beat Competition.
In addition to that, as at the time of this interview, all was set for their December all-star concert. “Preparations for the Concert are going very well. We’re absolutely excited!” Ovie gushes. “This is the first time we’re putting together anything of this magnitude and we’re ready to show the world what the NotJustOk brand stands for, and that’s showcasing world-class Nigerian music. God willing, this is the 1st of many other showpiece events to come.”
Mola explains the need for the big party. “As you know the website is a medium where artistes can connect with their fans and in turn artistes also get feedback about their work from very passionate fans,” he says. “So, it’s going to always be about Nigerian music. With the concert, we just felt we needed to connect our audience with the artistes at a physical location.”
This is a full time job for these two; still they have other lives. Mola works a 9-to-5 and Ovie doubles as a fulltime student; the former announcing proudly that he is finally now able to afford four hours sleep – one hour gained because they have employed two others.
Before NotJustOk, there have been more than a few sites that have tried to capture the music market – from NigerianEntertainment.com through Museke.com to MyTruSpot – it is to NJO’s credit that it has managed to meet and surpass its forerunners, taking the business of Nigerian digital music, unaffected by global giants like i-tunes, making and breaking careers, and building a community of Nigerians who love their music.
It’s a revolution in Nigerian music – and these are the new kingmakers. Y!