The word Showbiz has overtime taken a 360 turn; it was used in the 20th century to describe entertainment and the goings behind the scenes of the entertainment events.
Fast track to present times, great minds have given the term a persona, making the word Showbiz an entity that cannot be ignored, or loosely used. The tremendous growth of this term is alarming and one that needs to be documented on, furthermore great minds have taken this term and turned it into one of the fastest and most lucrative franchise in the world at the moment.
Even more mind boggling is that these great minds not only made this term into a company and money making franchise, they have successfully held a touch on it, in this case a weekly touch of pure entertainment at its rawest – networking, interaction between managers, agents, producers, distributors and live music… It doesn’t get better than this.
Meet Matthew Ohio, the Wednesday night party businessman.
TM: IN YOUR OWN WORDS, WHAT IS SHOW BUSINESS TO YOU?
Matthew: Show business is the art of making money from entertainment, that’s how I see it, being able to satisfy people’s needs and wants by entertaining them and making money from it. That’s what I will call show business; in fact some people are into the show, but not the business part. You also have to have the passion before you succeed in show business.
TM: DO YOU AGREE THAT LAGOS IS THE FRONTIER FOR SOCIAL LIFE IN NIGERIA? IS THAT WHY YOU BIRTHED INDUSTRY NITE IN THIS CITY?
Matthew: Yes I agree that Lagos is the base. I always tell people that if you are not in Lagos nothing can happen for you, and it is simple because it is the commercial capital, while Abuja is the seat of power. Everyone knows that Lagos is a cosmopolitan city, and the most accommodating. Lagos is also the first port of call; Lagos is really where it is happening.
TM: TELL US ABOUT MATTHEW OHIO THE SHOW PROMOTER.
Matthew: I am from Edo state, I come from a family of 5; 4 girls and I being the only boy. My dad is late, he used to be a Nigerian diplomat, so growing up we moved around a lot. I lived abroad for the better part of my life. We moved to places like Argentina, Cuba, and Geneva, Switzerland -very awkward places. I was born in Belgium and in Foreign Service you move around every 4 years, so my Dad moved around after every 4 years; he was a career diplomat all his life. Although we have always been Lagos based, every point in time we come back to Lagos.
TM: HOW OLD IS INDUSTRY NITE?
Matthew: Industry Nite started in 2008, we stopped for a while, and we started again in 2009.
TM: WHY DID YOU STOP?
Matthew: Many issues, and at the time we weren’t sure if we could sustain it, but in 2009 we went full on.
TM: What is/are the criterion/criteria, which make an artiste eligible for a showcase? Most people will argue that artistes of late are not certified to have an Industry Nite.
Matthew: It is really the number of records you put out there, they don’t necessarily have to be hits, but they have to be good, and as an artiste you need to show commitment that you are in it for the long haul. Also, the artiste must have released a minimum of 7-8 songs showing he has enough materials out there. Sometimes we use commercial success as a way, but not all the time. We just try to create a balance. We would do someone that has an album over someone that has a big song.
TM: WHICH WAS THE FIRST BIG BRAND THAT PUT ITS WEIGHT BEHIND INDUSTRY NITE?
Matthew: MTN did in 2010. They sponsored for that year. And after some time they changed their marketing team and headed in a different direction.
TM: WHAT WAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH SPINLET DURING THAT ERA?
Matthew: Spinlet was a company that was going into a new frontier that was digital distribution. They came to us for content and brand visibility; for promotion and sponsorship. It was a quiet sponsorship deal, they supported us for a long time, two years plus… they really helped us because they came on at a point where we really needed the sponsorship. Till date, we still maintain a very good relationship.
TM: RECENTLY, YOUR BRAND INTRODUCED OTHER AFRICAN ARTISTES TO THE PLATFORM, HOSTING THE LIKES OF AKA, WHAT PROMPTED THAT? WAS THAT A GREAT PR MOVE OR IS IT JUST TO SHOW THAT INDUSTRY NITE IS NOT ONLY LIMITED TO NIGERIAN ARTISTES?
Matthew: We have been doing it for a while, it is just that now, maybe because the brand is bigger and getting more attention, the public is noticing. We have done it a lot with the Ghanaian artistes like Efya; Efya toured with us round the country with some Ugandan artistes as well. For us, it is about promoting contemporary African artistes.
Other African artistes see Nigeria as the New York of Africa, in terms of the music business and the fact that our population gives us an advantage over other African countries. The money here is in abundance, and our musicians are doing way better. Most of these African artistes believe if they can make it here, it will promote their credibility and create more revenue for them. When they are looking for a platform to showcase their talent, a platform that is constant and has been there, Industry Nite comes to mind for them, and we are always more than ready to host our people from other African countries.
TM: DO YOU HAVE INDUSTRY NITE IN OTHER COUNTRIES?
Matthew: It is not as consistent as we want it to be, but this year we have done less of African countries and more International countries – Dubai, Houston, New York, London etc. The whole objective is to take African music across borders.
TM: TELL US ABOUT YOUR DEAL WITH ST. REMY.
Matthew: We signed a deal with St. Remy and it has been so far so good.
TM: SMIRNOFF AND INDUSTRY NITE, WAS LIKE THE YIN AND YANG OF THE NIGERIAN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY, WHAT HAPPENED THERE?
Matthew: They lost focus and you can quote me on that- The bureaucracy, it’s like you’re dealing with a political house, the continuity… they spent a lot of money on Industry Nite but then they change their team and they couldn’t continue.
TM: WHAT WAS THE DURATION?
Matthew: 2 years… But I would say… 2 years on paper and 1 year in action, they hardly got anything done. When they changed people they lost focus, they invested so much and then they change one person and everything changes. For us, we have moved on, no love lost.
TM: I THINK TOURING JUST CAME ON BOARD, YES?
Matthew: We have been touring since 2010, but internationally we just started. The whole idea is to take Nigerian music mainstream. As a promoter I want to take my shows mainstream, it is already happening, but not in the business and commercial side, Nigerian artistes need to start making money from the American and European market.
TM: OF ALL THE DAYS IN THE WEEK, WHY WEDNESDAY?
Matthew: It is simple, on a Wednesday, people in that business aren’t doing anything, Tuface is probably sitting in his house, and Solidstar is probably in the studio. Midweek is their chill day.
TM: In 5 YEARS WHAT DO YOU SEE INDUSTRY NITE AS?
Matthew: In 5 years, I see Industry Nite as a standalone franchise, like an NTA2 CHANNEL 5 type of thing, just a standalone thing, not about me or any brand, still doing what it does, helping musicians stay in the mix and connect them. I just see it as more established.
First published in Tush Magazine Issue 12.