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.
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.