The Business of Artist Management

Wanjiku Kimani is an artist manager under RedRepulik managing some of Kenya’s top artists;  the Kansoul, Timmy Tdat, Majik Mike and Ndegz. Previously an events manager at Bernsoft Interactive Limited, she was approached by Madtraxx to manage his music career for a year, after which he was to review her performance and decide whether to keep her or not. Wanjiku has since proved efficient, signing various artists under her label and even employing other artist managers, to help manage her fast growing brand. She shares her experience as an artist manager.

Janet Wanjiku Kimani (Image courtesy of nairobiwire.com)
Wanjiku Kimani (Image courtesy of smartkenya.co.uk)

What’s a typical day like for you?

I am at the office from 9 AM to 5 PM. If my artists have shows or appearances to make, I have to work through the night. My day to day job is mainly publicity. Different days, different artists, getting to know them better and where they see their brand. My work is to ensure that they prosper in their careers and to implement strategies based on where my artists see themselves. My artists give me their vision, I execute it.

Creating a balance between what and artist wants and what is right for them…

We work as a team along with other artist managers under my label.  We always have an opinion poll that we use to take a vote before we decide to work on something. The artist’s opinion counts but their main focus is on making good music and giving their audience good performances while on stage.  Decision making depending on the artist’s vision therefore largely lies on artist managers, who are more concerned about the business aspect of an artist’s career.

Challenges experienced as an artist manager….

Being in a male dominated industry as a female, promoters will sometimes only give you a chance because you are a woman and they want something from you in return. Secondly, my artists rightfully have egos, which I have to know how to manage in a way that will not bruise them. It is also quite a challenge to maintain a professional relationship with them, considering that they were my friends first and should remain to be my friends for a better working relationship, but then again to ensure that business remains to be business.

Changes you would like to see in Artist Management as a profession in Kenya….

It is about time that artist management is treated with the seriousness it deserves. Had I taken a course on artist management or had someone in the industry mentor me, I would have taken my artists further. Unfortunately, we do not have any institutions in the country training artist managers, meaning you have to learn on the job which is costly, both for you as an artist manager and for your artist.

If an up- coming artist wants you to manage them, what are the requirements?

There are no requirements really; all I need to see is your effort and determination, that’s it. Everything else, we can work on it together.

On payment; monthly salary or commission..

I was initially paid on a monthly basis but that was not very sustainable. I am now paid on commission basis. I am therefore ever on my toes to ensure that I have food on my table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music Review: Pascal Tokodi- Sitaki

 

My friend Pepper requested that I review Pascal‘s Sitaki and all I did through the rest of that day was think about the song and draft short notes about it. So here we are, I definitely had to do a review.

First things first, I am so glad that we could get more of Pascal even after Techno Own the Stage. Rarely do we get artists and especially those from Africa advance their music careers after participating in musical contests, (which makes me question how relevant such contests are).

Sitaki (Swahili for “I don’t want”) is a simple title  and yet one that easily got me curious, to listen to the song just to find out what exactly Pascal does not want.  The 4 minutes and 13 seconds video to the song will also get you hooked in the first 5 seconds as a girl is running away from a man, but with another waiting for her by the gate on a motorbike, a story that you would certainly want to follow up on.

Directed by Natasha Likimani, the screen writer for Veve, the video is black and white, with a simple setting in a modern home, making it very easy on the eye. This is however not your traditional Kenyan music video, with a sensual touch  (but rightfully so, based on what Pascal is singing about). Both Pascal and his video vixen Niki Behr are actors with excellent acting skills and great chemistry, making their story believable.

For the longest time, Anto NeoSoul has remained unchallenged as one of Kenya’s top male vocalists but now, we  have Pascal who will be giving him a run for his money. Pascal has an amazing voice with equally strong vocals. (His is not just the ordinary “I Can sing” type of voice.)The tone of his voice  on Sitaki is also appropriately mellow, passing across the message of love in the best way possible. It is also hard to miss out on the passion in his voice that would make anyone listening long for the kind of love that he sings about on this particular jam.

The audio was produced by Malcom Kashan, a 19 year old producer. The sound is amazing with notable beat similarity to Sauti Sol’s Still The One, just faster. So good is the song  that Acey Gracey of Usoni Band has already done a cover (Pascal was giving away Ksh. 50, 000 to the person who does the best cover).

Pascal’s first song Usiniache is no longer available online  and so we can treat this as his debut song, considering we have nothing to compare it with.All in all, Sitaki is a great  song and I cannot wait to see what’s next from Pascal.

Is there a song that you would like me to review? Let me know

 

 

 

 

 

The end of a phenomenal Hip Hop Era

keko
Ugandan Rapper Keko (Image Courtesy of http://www.billboard306.com)

Hear that? (Yeah!…The sound of my heart breaking) after learning that Keko was done  recording music. Just how does one among the best Femcees Africa has ever had quit music  few years into the game?..There go my dreams of her collaboration with STL..and..wait for it, AKA. It may take me the longest time to stop yearning for more of this musical geniuses prowess.  Meanwhile, I will seize this opportunity to high light what I thought were the most outstanding achievements of Keko during her five years (or so) in the music industry.

Venturing into a male dominated industry

It’s one thing to be bold enough to venture into the unknown, its another to be so good that you take over and make everything else seem like child play. Keko has constantly proven to be amongst the  best rappers of Uganda, raising the standards of a previously unrecognized sector of the industry and putting her country’s music on a global map,  something that very few Ugandan artists have managed to do.

Signing with Sony Music

Tell me how many  African artists  have managed to get a record deal with a music label that manages top international artists such as Alicia Keys, Pink, Usher and Christina Aguilera? Still trying to think of someone? Well..Keko was one amongst thousands of artists to have Sony Music Label believe in her great talent and invest in her brand. (Now that’s how you know you are an A- List artist)

Awards

Keko has received recognition for her music through various awards including the Pearl of Africa Music Awards; Best Hip Hop Act of 2011, Buzz Award Winner; Best Female artist in three consecutive years, 2011, 2012 and 2013 and the most notable 2011 Channel O Most Gifted East African Video.

Talent

Keko is one amongst the very few artists with sick bars and can sing too.I know..SUPER WOMAN. But yes, diversity never gets old. People appreciate good music and great talent, just don’t serve them with the same food that they like over and over again, which they  eventually are guaranteed to get tired of. Keko had already figured this out and every meal (musically speaking) was different.

I leave you with one among my favorite songs from Keko.