Obinna Ifem: The artist manager, the pawn.

” The artist manager is a pawn.

It was 14th of May, I remember this because it was my birthday. My story was trending on social media not because it was my birthday, but because the headlines read ‘CDQ splits with former manager’.
I was broken and sad because i was laid off by the label; I felt betrayed and so I wept on my birthday.

My childhood was great! I grew up around love, not just from my parents, but also from my grandparents; so much so that I used to look forward to spending my holidays with them. My fondest memory with my grandparents was roasting and eating a live ram during Christmas, definitely a surreal experience. Instances like this, were some of the reasons my younger brother and I were really happy growing up. This early life experiences led me to a life of selflessness. I’ve always put people first, and maybe that is why I became an artist manager.

My Teenage years were not that great. I spent 4 years at home before I gained admission into University. Everyone thought I was a failure because my younger brother got into University before me but I guess that only fuelled my passion for success.

I started ob9ja.com in my second year of University. Gradually, i became quite social and party organizers began to approach me to help support their parties. Everything began from bbm status updates before i eventually opened my blog which i designed myself.

It was gangster! I pushed and struggled for almost a year to ensure I kept up with the blog; I mean back then i did not even have a laptop, I literally slept in the cyber cafe many nights. Then i made a promise to myself that i would get my first laptop and internet from the proceeds of my blog, and after 9 months of pushing my brand, I got my first payment which was 45,000 thousand naira in 2013. I purchased my first laptop and internet connection with this payment.

The transition from being a blogger to an artiste manager was quite swift. However, it wasn’t an easy process; I remember when the transition began, I reached out to an artist manager whom I wanted to mentor me. He kept on dodging me so I went on to sign with CDQ who had contacted me to manage him. When he saw that I had moved on without him; he called and said I wouldn’t cope and that he would watch to see my failure. I knew he was not God, but for a split second I actually thought he could be right.

I went on to have a fantastic career managing other artistes even after CDQ. Also, i managed Oladips who Reminisce signed under me.

Most artist managers are not respected in this part of the world but the reverse should be the case because managers oftentimes do the dirty work to ensure the success of their talent. My major mistake as an artist manager was putting a 100 percent trust in all of artistes I worked with which eventually led to betrayal. However, this does not mean I will not work with more artistes or put in my 100% for them going forward.

I advice artistes to focus solely on their craft and make sure they maintain the team of people who were there with and for them from the beginning.

A lot of youths think music is an escape from reality or a fast way to success, they couldnt be further from the truth because with music you have to give your all and work hard to be successful. Ever wonder why most artistes have only one season’s hit and fade away? It is because they begin to lose focus on the music and get carried away by the fame and material things that are attached to it.”

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