Alex Zone is the CEO of O3media, a music and promotions company. He speaks with SAMUEL ABULUDE on his journey and how he navigated through the challenges
How are your music tours in Europe?
In this year, 2019, our music tour is called Kulture Tour. We are starting with Lil Kesh followed by Timaya in May. We have Tekno, Patoranking, Kizz Daniel; we also have Reekado Banks and Victor AD. Those are our artistes for this year and we will be taking them one at a time. Part of what we do in our company, 03media Entertainment, is to promote Nigerian culture across the globe most especially Europe. By doing that we take Nigerian artistes to international tours in Europe and we have been doing this for five to six years now, and we have been successful.
Why this full list of artistes?
Normally we do it quarterly, every three months or every four months. We do like three artistes in a year except for last year when we did just two. For example, it is Lil Kesh they want to see right now, this moment. After this moment who else do they want to see again? It is Timaya who is already scheduled for May/June. After then we will weigh the options and ask them which artistes they want. So from the list, because we’ve announced that this is our artistes for the year, so after Timaya they will tell us this is the artiste that we need again. Then we pick it from there. It is not really our own choice; it is the market demand or the fans demand that we follow.
Why is it only Europe that you are showcasing Nigerian artistes?
You have to know your strengths, your pace. You have to know where you can be able to penetrate your products to the market. Europe is my own strength; it is where I know I can sell African culture. I don’t want to run around then gain nothing. I want to go to where I would be able to achieve results.
You’ve been in the business for over five years, what keeps you going?
That is what we strive for in every day of our life. It is about changes and positive results. We keep improving. I believe the next tour will be better than the last. And the last tour was Reekado; the next tour is Lil Kesh. Trust me the Lil Kesh own will be better than Reekado’s tour.
What are some of the challenges you encounter?
The truth is it is never easy, look at all these politicians sweating, campaigning all because of power, so nothing good comes easy. But for me I know we don’t have sponsors, we don’t have support from anybody, and these are individual efforts. I try to let these artistes know that there’s no money, I don’t have a sponsor but this is what we believe we can do. I don’t see the monetary problem as a challenge, I see it as motivation to work harder. There is no challenge so far.
Holding tours in Nigeria and abroad, which one yields better results?
It depends on the type of result you’re talking about, in terms of awareness, in terms of the monetary result?
Our artistes are selling out abroad, why is this so?
People are buying the Afrobeat now. I believe they are selling out in Nigeria but the concept of selling out I don’t understand. Truth is here, just like what I was telling a friend of mine in the industry, when an artiste; like say Wizkid live on stage, why do Wizkid and the need to invite Davido? Why does he need to invite other artistes to come perform when it is a live stage? Why can’t he do that show alone? Let’s know his true fans. You know when you’re doing your concert then you’re inviting other names. Over there it is only Lil Kesh, so anybody coming out to watch Lil Kesh is a Lil Kesh fan. So you see the difference. Over here different fans come to watch, but over there it isn’t so. I don’t think it is live in concert, because you need to invite Maleek Berry, Mr Eazi and some other people to watch your show, which means you’re inviting their fans. If you want to know what you are worth; pull up a concert and play for three hours without a guest artiste and let’s see how many people that will come for you. So at the end of the day, you don’t even know the crowd you can pull as an artiste which is quite different from America. If it is Chris Brown’s tour, it is only Chris Brown’s concert and maybe the MC, that’s all. So in Europe here I try to put only one artiste on a tour and try to market the artiste to make sure that those that come out to watch him are fans of the artiste.
How is live performances like in Europe?
I had experience with the Olamide tour, which is why I say we improve every time. Olamide performed, the fans went crazy, then Olamide performed for 30 minutes and people started complaining. It was online, in the news that Olamide performed for 30 minutes. I never knew he was meant to perform for 35minutes at which was the time frame. The fans went crazy and told Olamide to satisfy them. To them they want him to be on stage for 45 minutes or one hour. They like that live performance because they take out their time to be there for you so you must satisfy them for at least one hour not 10 minutes or 20 minutes.
The acceptance of Nigeria music has been awesome, it is going every day if people to say Lil Kesh can sell 15 shows on a tour in about 12 countries. Back in the days, people would say it was not possible but right now it is happening. The acceptance is awesome, it is selling.
How do you handle a situation where an artiste breaches a contract?
That’s why I build a family relationship with all these artistes and try as much as I can to play my own role professionally. They always breach their contracts. When I was pushing for Duncan Mighty, he breached. I took it has one of those things. People said, put it in the media, put it in the press. But at the end of the day; we settled, we are good friends now. But had it been I put it out there, all those things. Right now we are doing business. To me, as they say, every disappointment sometimes is a blessing. And you should not let that weigh you down from moving forward. The guys we are dealing with are human beings and they’re artistes because their ways of reasoning are always different. So you have to understand them and know how to deal with them.
How else do you think such cases can be prevented?
It can’t be prevented, it must happen. The truth is you have to play your own role perfectly so that at the end you won’t be crucified, it won’t be your fault; it will be the fault of the artiste or the management or whoever that is in charge. On my side, I always try to play my own role perfectly.
Why do you mostly work with male artistes?
There’s room for the female, but the street where I come from, we hardly have that time for them. For example, I put a female on a tour, that moment you are going to wake up you should be on stage, the moment you’re taking your shower you should be at the airport. Imagine on a tour you have a seven o’clock flight and you’re performing, maybe, 3am, after the show you are heading straight to the airport. A female will tell you I need to shower at the end of the day you are missing out on so many things.
Are you saying managing female artistes is more cumbersome than managing male?
Sincerely speaking, I always doff my hat for those that manage female artistes . I respect them so much.
So there are no chances of managing female artistes, maybe in the nearest future you see a very talented one?
They come across me every time but I always recommend them to those I know that can manage them.
What if you see prospects in them?
That’s why I say I will recommend them. I see a lot of them every second they come.
Looking forward, what are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to take this hustle to the world stage, taking street music to the world stage. Making people believe that anybody can do it. There’s an opportunity for everyone to do what they can do. The plan is to create employment for everybody through entertainment.
Last year, you were on tour with Olamide and it went viral, but we have Burna Boy now, why is he not on the list?
Like I said I go for those who are like my family. We run this street and if you don’t have money, yes he’s on the demand but his fees. Europe cannot afford his fees except for few cities. But for me I do commercial stuff. Burna Boy today that’s on demand, he’s a fixed fee that he has to be paid which I can’t afford, I will go for and that will be able to sell 15 shows, sell his brand then be accepted.
Talking about street music, you’ve selected Lil Kesh for this quarter, but presently Zlatan is on the street, everywhere. Can you say anything about this?
How many tracks does Zlatan have now, probably five? With five tracks, can you stay on the stage for 45 minutes? Zlatan is good but how many tracks does he have, because it is only one artiste, there are no other guest artistes. Some people might take him, but I’ve to be diplomatic here.
But you mention Victor AD and he only has 3?
I said Zorro and Victor AD both of them are on the tour. Victor AD has three tracks and Zorro with about five or six tracks. Victor AD will be opening for Zoro. I know Zlatan is hot but how many songs if you take him to Italy. Most of the guys abroad left Nigeria about five or six years ago when Olamide or Lil kesh were hot. Imagine Duncan Mighty and African China tour because they were in Nigeria when these guys were reigning, when you bring them over here they will be glad to watch them.
What are the parameters to know which artistes to showcase to the world?
That’s why you need to know the job, you need to study the market. I got people, partners. I make an enquiry. I don’t just wake up and say I’m bringing Lil Kesh. People do it but at the end of the day, they feel frustrated. They don’t ask questions, just because you saw me doing it you jumped into it and it the end of the day it flops.
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