The 7 most powerful people in Nigerian music industry
Editor’s note: This article talks about the 7 most powerful people in Nigerian music industry but in order for you to fully understand the depth of the article, we first cover some background information. Music is a huge part of the millennial culture in Africa and Lekki Republic is glad to do research on topics of interest and bring you the result of our findings. Enjoy!
The Nigerian music industry is worth around $ 200 Billion according to unverified sources. Thanks to YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify, Naija Loaded and the other music streaming platforms, Afrobeats – a genre which originated in Nigeria has gone beyond the African shores unto the global music scene.
It is not uncommon these days to find Nigerian music superstars like Wizkid, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Niniola, Mr Eazi, Yemi Alade, Patoranking and Burna boy collaborate with major international artistes, hit the foreign music charts and make the playlists of top music curators and DJs in Europe, America and the Caribbean.
Even the signature Zanku and Shaku shaku dance moves that originated in Nigeria, have traveled wide alongside the music almost becoming a global phenomenon.
This is possible because of the huge number of fans at home and in diaspora (often in the millions) that these artistes have been able to gather on social media over the years. These fans or soldiers quickly spread the artistes’ brand and message wherever they are.
Nigeria, being the most populous black nation on earth means you’ll likely find a Nigerian in every country and as these fans travel, they take along the music and its resulting culture and mannerisms (vibe, dance, slang etc) with them.
Note that Nigeria sets the pace when it comes to music, fashion and entertainment in Africa so whatever happens in Nigeria reverberates around the African continent.
The growing influence of Nigerian musicians and their massive success has led major Record labels like Sony Music, Universal Records, Warner Bros and Jay Z’s Tidal to rush into the Nigerian market to sign unto their imprint, the biggest and the best Nigerian artistes with hopes of grabbing a share of the lucrative African market.
The marriage and cross culture is so strong that nowadays, it is not uncommon to see Beyoncé in local Ankara fabric and Jay Z referencing Lagos in his outlandish rap lyrics. Sometimes, these people even steal our music without giving us the due credit.
Read also: 9 must have apps for Nigerian millennials
But that’s a story for another day.
Today, we look at the 7 most powerful people in the Nigerian music industry. These crop are not artistes so you won’t see them on your TV screens. They’re mostly behind the scenes negotiating deals, arranging collaborations, granting access to networks that fosters capital flow into the Nigerian music/entertainment industry.
They have solid business acumen, and a huge drive that they have used to make monumental impacts in the Nigerian entertainment industry. I really want to be like these people when I grow up :).
Meet the movers and shakers of the Nigerian music industry.
1. Paul Okoye aka Pauloo
A secret Billionaire, Pauloo as he is fondly called is the CEO of Upfront and Personal, a talent and events Management Company in Lagos. He is the founder of One Africa Music Fest – the largest Afrobeats festival in the world that brings the biggest Nigerian and African artistes to perform in huge venues at major cities of the world.
Paul O has held successful music festivals in Houston, New York, London, Lagos & Dubai. He has also facilitated endorsement deals between artists and multi corporations like Pepsi, MTN and Interswitch group.
Paul O and Wizkid signing a Pepsi endorsement
He is one of the most respected and admired entertainment personalities in Nigeria.
2. Bizzle Osikoya
From humble beginnings as a social media manager for Mavin records, Bizzle has grown to become among the who is who and resource person in the Nigerian music industry.
He has contacts from the underground crowd to the top dogs in Lagos, New York and London. If you’re hoping to break into the Nigerian musicscene, Bizzle is the guy who can help you do a solid introduction. He’s quite vocal on Twitter where the upcoming acts always try to get him to put a word out for their new record.
Together with Asa Asika, he runs a company called The Plug – a creative talent management agency. Bizzle is also one of the brains behind Mainland Block Party – one of the most anticipated rave parties in Lagos, Nigeria.
3. Efe Ogbeni
Known as Efe One by close friends, he is a big fish that swims in big waters. A major A&R agent in the Atlanta and US the US music scene, he was assigned by Sony Music to as the Executive Producer and international manager for Davido. Efe’s machinery is evident in Davido’s US appearances. The pop star has been steadily climbing the US music charts. Together with Vanessa Amadi, a London based PR professional, they run Stealth Management, a fast rising talents management company in the UK and Nigeria.
4. Matthew Ohio
I’m almost very certain you’ve never heard this guy. That’s because the creator of Industry Nite – a popular monthly event in Nigeria that showcases both established and upcoming acts prefers to stay in the background and avoid the limelight.
Quoting a Guardian Nigeria interview, Matthew says… “Naturally, I’m a shy person; I don’t like being at the forefront. Besides, I believe when you are not at the forefront, you have less distractions which helps you focus. “If I wanted to be ‘Mr. Popular’, I would have done so, but I’m just happy letting the few people who matter know me. Right now, I can take a walk on the street without any issue and still be able to hang out with my celebrity friends.” – he quips.
On how Industry nite was started, he says:
“We started Industry Nite every Wednesday in clubs then; it wasn’t that expensive to host and the clubs needed content. From the first edition, the reception was great; it appeared a lot of people were already looking forward to such platforms.” – Matthew tells Guardian Nigeria.
Industry Nite was the first ever show Tiwa Savage held a microphone upon returning to Nigeria to pursue her solo career according to Guardian Nigeria.
5. Bukola Sawyerr Izeogu
Bukola Sawyerr or Bukky as she’s fondly called has had a very interesting career in which she has built a strong network of people in high places.
She started off as a board member of the Lagos Jazz series before becoming a Director at popular record label Chocolate City. She then proceed to become head of programs at Classic FM – an alternative music radio station in Lagos.
Bukola currently runs Buki HQ, a public relations events management and lifestyle company in Lagos. The company has successfully hosted events including Asa‘s Live in Lagos concert, Hennessy Artistry, 2Face‘s Buckwyld and Breathless, Olamide Live in concert and the International Drinks Festival. Bukky also helps artistes with press coverage upon new music release.
You can’t put together a list of the 7 most powerful people in the Nigerian music industry without mentioning this O.G. Highly respected and remarkably called Osha (meaning deity), Bankulli has been active in the Nigerian music industry for over a decade and is as relevant today as he was back 10 years ago. A well connected A&R, Music Consultant and Talent Manager, you’ll find him vibing with Kanye West, Mike Dean, Big Sean and Jay Z. It is believed that Bankulli made vocal contributions to Jay Z and Yeezy’s joint album Watch The Throne.
A pragmatic goal getter, he managed Dbanj and Don jazzy till they formed Mohits records and returned back to further push there agenda. He has been instrumental for the successful introduction of most cross over kids from the US/UK into the Nigerian music industry. The likes of Maleekberry Moelogo and Teni D’Entertainer were successfully introduced into the mainstream Nigerian music industry by Bankulli.
If you need inside information about the biggest deals, celebrities, dynamics and plots in the Nigerian music industry, Bankulli Osha is your go to person.
7. Idris Olorunnimbe
Idris is the founder of Temple Management Company – one of the most organized talent management agencies in Nigeria.
Temple has interest in Music, Sports, Comedy and Media and in the few years of existence, been able to sign impressive talents to their imprint while positioning them for greater success. It can only take a great guy to pull of such a feat and I admire the magnitude of their operational setup in Nigeria.
Who else do you think should have made this list? Myself? Patience my friend, it will be sooner than you know.
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While you’re here, I want you to checkout my favourite upcoming artist Oba Lurge – a fine and very talented Nigerian rapper/Musician with potentials to hit the global stage.
His recently released mixtape Mich Selber is available on iTunes, Spotify and other music streaming platforms worldwide.
He’s unsigned so if you want a talented Nigerian act on your label, I recommend him. Check him out on Soundcloud below.