The entertainment scene cannot be complete without the mention of one man who has consistently being at the forefront of record label structuring; he pioneered the first complete 360 degree record label when he birthed Chocolate City eleven years ago and now he has chosen to move on with other projects while leaving Chocolate City Music which we all knew him with to Jude “MI” Abaga.
Born August 13th, 1975, Audu Maikori is a Nigerian lawyer, entrepreneur, social activist, public speaker, creative industry professional, Founder and President of the Chocolate City Entertainment Group as described by Wikipedia. His journey into the creative world started in 1997 while in the university when he formed a couple of creative groups aimed at exploring and expanding creativity amongst young persons. From forming creative groups, he moved on to offering legal services to some of the creative individuals due to his law background and finally setting up Chocolate City which got registered subsequently in 2003 as Chocolate City Limited with his longtime friend and partner – Paul Okeugo. It wasn’t until 2005 that they officially signed their first artiste – Jeremiah Gyang and that began the journey for Audu.
Audu rebranded Jeremiah’s already released album with proper strategic promotions and management leading to a successful reign. Moving on, Chocolate City signed on MI Abaga, a move that ultimately paved way for more artistes coming on board and Chocolate City been taken seriously.
Being a trained lawyer who at a time practiced, Audu is a strong believer of proper structuring and in 2012, he restructured Chocolate City again to suit the company’s manifesto he wrote back in 2004 and by which every board members/directors adhere to. The restructuring saw Chocolate City becoming a group with four subsidiaries to include: Chocolate City Music, Chocolate City Kenya, Chocolate City Media and Chocolate City Distribution.
In a telephone conversation with our rep Audu stated the modus operandi for these subsidiaries: “We have a general plan for each of these subsidiaries and they have the creative power to make decisions on their own but then there are some decisions that requires approval from the board and has to be deliberated upon. For instance in appointing personnel to head each of these subsidiaries, we sit and based on discussion we pick the best option to lead”
With the influence of Audu, Chocolate City has been termed one of the most structured record label in Nigeria at this time when severally so called record label are springing up and the question has been put out there to answer. What do we mean by proper structuring of a record label? Is it just having numbers of staffs and offices?
Audu’s response is quite interesting “What Chocolate City is currently doing might not be fully appreciated right now and that’s because of the rigid structure that the industry runs on. You would recall Chocolate City was the first label to signed on an artiste with a 360 degree management contract, we also have a working module for each artiste signed on to us and that’s what we intend recreating in other part of the creative industry. We have always been ahead and we believe in growing together.”
Audu’s passion has always been his driving pedal where he wants to see proper structured labels coming out of Nigeria. He currently sits as a board member of 5ive Music Group which is a music distribution company made up of three other record labels aside Chocolate City to handle music distribution and licensing of artistes’ materials. He also sits as a member at COSON where he advocates for payment of royalties for the use of artistes’ materials.
Audu has serviced several government agencies including handling some legal works for the 8th National Assembly. In the previous administration, he held a top position in the Sure-P program set up by the Jonathan’s administration.
Audu has also being at the forefront of human activism in Nigeria with the ‘Enough is Enough’ protest being notable amongst them where he dared an officer shoot him.
Born into a wealthy family with his father being a successful lawyer-banker and his mum from a royal family, Audu was taught the essence of living by his father whom he tagged as his first and closest mentor. Growing up with siblings and having to share goodies or gifts equally and not by birthright imbibe in Audu a strong philosophy which made him detest greed in all ramifications.
Audu’s business module is one to be envious of with him being confident enough to leave the affairs of his companies to other persons which something that can be likened to Richard Branson’s module who coincidentally is one of his mentors.
Another of Audu’s passion is seeing young entrepreneurs moving in the right path and that’s what his partnership with Chivas is about – putting out life experiences and nuggets for aspiring entrepreneur. Audu is also an advocate for continuous learning as he takes personal development quite seriously. In a closing remark during the conversation, Audu has this to say: “I want an industry where greed isn’t the order of the day, an industry where proper structuring is being practice allowing for mutual benefits between the record label and artistes”