James Silas: Your manager can kill your music career (Y! Superblogger)

The sustenance of our music lies in the collective effort of the stakeholders and the fans.

I’ve discussed this topic with a few friends and colleagues on several occasions. Not like I’m expecting this article to miraculously become a catalyst of change; I mean – “nobody holy pass”, but I’m sure a few of us can relate to this subject matter and we can check ourselves to adjust, somehow.

Nigeria’s music industry may lack a holistic structure but we can tell that a few people are working gradually to put the necessary structure in place. If the government pays closer attention to the industry, we would get ‘there’ sooner than envisaged. Even at that, we have the biggest music market in Africa… Am I supposed to state this as “arguable”?

Oh well… I have seen a lot of people from various parts of the continent and the world screaming names like Fela, 2Face, P-Square, D’banj, Wizkid, Flavour, Ice-prince… it’s a long list. So, calling Nigeria the big brother of Africa’s music shouldn’t sound braggadocios.

The humble beginnings of some artistes disappear when his or her song is on ‘Top 5’ – nationwide. Every DJ who wants to please his/her crowd and retain followership MUST have such songs on their playlist. It also means that event promoters/organisers, airlines and bank managers will hustle for space in the artiste’s itinerary.

The above is the dream of every artiste but there’s one problem you’re likely to face…sometimes unknowingly – your MANAGER!

In one word, an artiste’s manager is like a caretaker of the artiste’s music business. Some stretch their roles to the artiste’s personal life but it depends on both parties. Some managers hunt for talents themselves, while some are hired. There’s also the category of those who find themselves in the position by virtue of their relationship (usually friendship or family ties) with the artiste(s).

The problem I’ve come to realise in Nigeria’s music industry is that a lot of managers play ‘god’ when their artiste’s song is one of or the ‘hit’ of the moment. The level of their ‘bossmanship’ becomes even bigger than the song in question. And if their artiste eventually peak the ‘unstable A-List’, your guess is as good as mine.

How can one explain the fact that an artiste manager does not pick calls from numbers he or she does not know? The artiste’s phone and privacy can be restricted but not the manager’s. Who knows when the multi-national brand managers would call and just because it’s your phone, you want to choose which calls to pick or not. You need to note that a lot of people would rather call, than struggle with the keys on their phones to send a text message. And guess what? – Some managers will not read the text immediately – ‘Busy’, right?

Who says it’s not okay for a media person to call a manger to ask “Stupid questions” about their artistes? The least you can do as a manager is to answer the questions in a diplomatic, smart and polite tone. Better yet – hire a publicist. Some managers would not even tell the artiste that a certain reporter is trying to book an appointment and when the wrong stories hit newsstands, they start seeking damage control… and the artiste suffers more for it.

Some artiste managers are more concerned about how they will look, than how their artiste should appear at an event. Some want to be interviewed on a red carpet and make headlines before or alongside the artiste. I’m not saying you can’t be in the spotlight but what happened to the ethics of the profession?

Information and techniques of the game are free on the internet…especially if you don’t have access to the books. You need to understand your job description while at it, or before you delve into it.

Hit songs and artistes have come and gone… It’s funny how their managers also fade with them. However, some smart artistes and label execs realize these lapses at a point, while some don’t see anything, till it drowns them all. Communication is very important in the business. The artiste deserves to know every discussion or correspondence concerning him or her.

Presently in Lagos, Nigeria, there’s an association of artiste managers called A.M.A.M.N. This association consists of some of the people responsible for some big acts in the country today. It will only make sense for acting and intending managers to join groups like this, to share experiences, and learn from others in the field.

I know a few artistes that have changed their management for the better – regardless of the cost. I also know some, who are their own managers but have personal assistants to do the run-around.

Here’s calling on all artistes to check their managers… ask questions about their role in your music career… ensure that he or she is not just there for percentages off your earnings. Note that a bad manager will use your shine to get another artiste and continue with the ruin, especially when your career takes a nosedive.

A word is enough for the wise!


James Silas is a creative writer, music journalist, A&R and media Consultant with Jarmzone Entertainment: www.jarmzone.com. He manages Jarmzone Blogspot. He is also the Associate Editor of Hip-hop World Magazine – a foremost music journal in Nigeria.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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