Those were the words of Savara Mudigi(he of Sauti Sol) when describing what to look for in a manager.In the case of the boy band no one can dispute the fact that their manager Marek Fuchs has set the bar really high.Considering he wasn’t there from the beginning of their journey their partnership has grown the group in leaps and bounds. Thanks to a manager who believes in them they now have a picture dancing with President Barack Obama hanging in the West Wing of the White House.Ambition?Hunger?Madness? Who knows,you might need all three to be a great manager.
So let me take you back a bit to the Ongea Summit.There was a forum about Music as a Business. When it was Q and A time I really stretched my arms for all it was worth until the mic was handed to me.I asked the question ‘What should an artiste look for in a manager?’I addressed the question to Seven Mosha( Director of Music and Talent-Rockstar 4000 and also Ali Kiba’s manager) and Savara Mudigi.
It turned into a rather interesting discussion that really broke down the different roles that an artiste and manager have to play to create a complete brand with most of the initial work being on the artiste.
1.As an artiste you need to know who you are first and who your audience is
If you are an artiste you need to figure out what your particular style is and who your music is geared towards. That way you can narrow down and focus fully on gaining a following on that factor. So for instance if we go into our archives and look at the group Camp Mulla (we miss you) their target market was obviously pre-teens, teens and young adults.This meant that their music was made specifically for that crowd,they dressed in a certain way and performed at specific events whose majority would be people in that demographic.They must have done something right because more than 3 years after their split and people from that era still comment on their videos asking them to come back.
2.Invest in yourself
Seven told us of artistes who came to her after selling their possessions and even putting up their houses as collateral all in a bid to breakthrough into the industry. Any recording artiste will tell you how expensive it is to record let alone shoot a video.But the question is,how bad do you want it? What are you willing to do to get your name and music out there?Invest people.
Savara spoke of how important it is for an artist to look the part.Go to the gym,do your hair,be a trend setter, always look good. Corporates will invest in someone who can influence people into buying their products or subscribing to thier service.
This also applies to money you get from your gigs,appearances, any revenue stream.Invest in better equipment,set aside some cash to make better music videos,hire teams that will take you higher than you are. A team is more important than we give it credit for. If you can, start with the following – a manager, an accountant and a lawyer.
3.It is a numbers game
Savara and Seven agreed alot on this. Social media is one of those tools you cannot escape.Facebook,Twitter,Instagram and even Snapchat are being used as gauges by investors to see whether you are worth the trouble.
Look at it this way you need to have a significant following online for an advertiser to have you as their brand ambassador or spokesperson.That also means that you have to be careful about what you post as an artist…so if you are posting ratchetry of girls twerking on your page best believe there are brands that will run far away from you because it also translates to a ratchet following,you get?
Certain artists will always have corporates knocking at their door because their music cuts across all ages. Seven gave the example of Rose Muhando she is not very active on social media, but old people listen to her,women listen to her, young people listen to her, kids listen to her so that means that corporates have numerous options when it comes to endorsing her because of her demographic.It could be argued as well from that Point of View that that is why Sauti Sol get so much attention because of their wide audience appeal.
4.You need the X-Factor
Savara brought up a very important point.What is special about you as an artiste? What sets you apart from the rest?I am sure you know of artistes who vocally are not so good but they have that IT factor(like Pitbull I don’t get his music but he does make me pay attention).Whether its Khaligraph with his tweng from Kayole or Fena Gitu with her tomboy look but honey laced voice you need that edge.Especially for female artistes you need more on your CV than just a nice rack,booty and a pretty face to make it.
5.A manager is not just your employee but your friend
As I learnt, a manager is not just someone who will get you interviews with Pulse or Ghafla but someone who will make sure that your dream becomes a reality. After you have done all the above, you need a manager who will take the pressure off and do all the running around for you as you focus on the creative process. A good manager can spot shadiness a million miles away and they will cover for you when you have been less than smart.A manager who has your best interests at heart will also tell you the truth when you need to hear it. They can give you a new lease of life(Look at Ali Kiba when he started out and look at his amazing comeback).As an artiste your manager is meant to be like the limb you never knew you needed.A manager should think this way,the more money the artiste makes the bigger my commission.(Remember you work for the artiste now not the other way around).
6.Kizuri chajiuza Kibaya chajitembeza
This is a Swahili proverb that means that good things sell themselves while bad things have to advertise themselves to get attention.(literal translation is tough).Miss Mosha said this’If you are good,we will find you’.Have you ever heard a song that was so good and you didn’t have Shazam,didn’t get the name of the artist, and maybe all you have is the song title?You searched high and low until you found this artist.That is the effect you want your music to have, be so good that someone offers money for you to be found.
7.Image is everything
I sound like a broken record but if you were there you would truly understand.A guy from Dandora of the group Ukoo Fulani Mau Mau came to the front to ask his question, obviously high with baggy clothes and unkempt dreadlocks . He basically implied that all this advice was bougie and discriminated against people from the ghetto. But hold on, a well dressed lady from the same Dandora rebuffed his statement by saying that where you are from should not determine where you are going and that as artistes it’s important to take advice from people who have actually made it. I won’t belabour the point any longer.How you spend your money also plays into your image so don’t go buying a car you can’t maintain with your first Kshs.500,000.Be faithful with the little that you have and you will have more come your way.A good manager will make sure you grow that amount to double the amount.
Starting out will mean having to do some things by yourself but as you go up, keep improving. As I learnt in the forum this is the best time to be alive because we get to write the rules that will be used 50 years from now for the industry to thrive. Ignorance is no excuse, if you plan to be a manager read as much as you can, and keep at it. I believe in you and so should you.
Share this with an artiste,will you?