Why Artists Need To Rethink Leaving Their Manager

With “True Life Story of an Artiste Manager 1: Lesson to all aspiring Talent Managers”, King Wale Applause might have published the most jarring piece on the life of an artist manager in the Nigerian music industry – the sacrificial nature of the job and the risk of being denied due reward.

Drawing from his experience of managing the career of Lil Kesh, he shared a word of advice for artists on how to treat managers, particularly the manager whose effort contributed to the early success of the artist. He wrote, “you see the thing about that manager that helped you ‘blow’ like we call it, NEVER EVER LET HIM GO IF YOU ARE NOT DOUBLE SURE OF A REPLACEMENT.”

Indeed, events of artist and manager splits almost always tell on the careers of such artists – Wale suggested that Lil Kesh has been struggling to hit it right since his sack. The truth is: choosing managers could go either way – it could be the start of struggles, on the other hand, it could mean a new lease of life for the artist.

Choosing who to run the business side of one’s music means trusting such a person with contract negotiations; events finding and bookings; securing venues that match one’s career strategy; advising on career decisions; publicity and promotion; helping in making career decisions such as which record producer to work with, or which songs to perform; and managing media relations on the artist’s behalf.

Davido summed it up in his tweet – announcing his split from Kamal Ajiboye – that selecting a manager pretty much means trusting one’s life, as an artist, in the hands of that person. He wrote, “I’m my own manager 2017!! Don’t put your life for another man’s hand.” With Kamal, Davido’s career sailed on the wave of the globalisation of Afrobeats, as he sought to penetrate into major foreign music markets like the U.K. and the US.

While the direction seemed to be yielding results from the business angle, having led to a huge international deal with Sony Music Africa, the music was not reaching the heights David expected. “I knew myself. I was like, ‘this is not Davido’. My career has always been on fire at all times, [‘till then] there was never a time that I didn’t have a hit out, and that time I didn’t have a hit”, he confessed to Toye Sokunbi of Native Magazine.

For an artist to meet an elusive career desire, it might require finding a manager who knows the route. For Davido, Asa Asika is that manager who knows the workings to turn his music into hit records – “IF”, “Fall” and many other big songs have been recorded since then. 2Baba has that in Efe Omorogbe, CEO of Now Muzik – a relationship that has grown past a decade. Efe admitted that there was a time of “misalignment” between the two, when Now Muzik had a clear vision for 2Baba’s career and the artist wanted a “slightly” different direction for himself. This led to a two year split, before both parties agreed to work together again.

With an understanding of the make or mar influence of a manager on the career of an artist, it is easy to see Wale Applause’s point, that forward-thinking artists do not switch managers for the fun of it. If the relationship is not unproductive and it is not broken, splitting from a manager should be given extra thought. An artist-manager relationship is very famously compared with marriage because, ideally, it is a relationship of shared interest. However, should there be a case of split or switch, the result is often determined by the motive behind the decision.

 

This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets

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