Artiste management, amongst other things is the ability to carefully maneuver through pitfalls, while managing bloated expectations. There are only a handful of people that have navigated the artiste management space in Africa and come out unscathed.
Rebecca Inyang Junaid ranks high up in that survivors list. The British-Nigerian entrepreneur and CEO of JustJoJo Entertainment sports a formidable line-up of superstars from across Africa on her client list.
Although Rebecca Junaid represents some of the best celebrity exports out of Africa, like Yemi Alade, Tekno, Adekunle Gold, Teni, Selebobo and DJ Spinall, she insists that she is open to working with any good artiste from both sides of the influence spectrum-from fast rising artistes to more established ones.
JustJoJo Entertainment Limited, the agency that she deftly commands, is a registered company in the UK, offering music/video distribution services, publishing, licensing, label/management, promotion and marketing services to artists and creatives everywhere.
The journey to wielding the influence she does in the artiste content management space started way back in 2007/2008, a few years after she moved back to the UK from Nigeria.
“I started watching channels like Nigezie, Ben TV and other Nigerian channels and soon fell in love with Afrobeat,” she confides.
Her first foray into artiste promotions started in 2009 with an artist called DIPP, who had a record titled “Dangerous” featuring M.I. She instantly reached out to DIPP via Facebook and was connected to his manager, Taiye Aliyu and the rest like they say, is history.
It took Rebecca Junaid many years of hard work and careful reputation building to raise her profile as a formidable industry contender and it didn’t come without being underrated and receiving a sizeable display of gender discrimination.
“Yes, I have been underrated and this was more in the artist management role; I believe that things like that only made me stronger, hungrier and more determined. And as a strong black woman, I know my worth and also know that I am a threat. However for me, dealing with it was being able to say “enough is enough”, move on to bigger and better things with people that actually value me regardless of whether I am male or female,” she explains.
Many hurdles later and being a major part of the success of one of Africa’s biggest music superstars, Yemi Alade through her good friend Taiye Aliyu, Just JoJo Entertainment has become a force to be reckoned with.
“From then onwards, everything else just fell into place and I started attracting more clients. That’s just me cutting a very long story short.”
With a UK operation base and an all African clientele, there have been misgivings about how she is able to navigate the local ecosystem from her base faraway in the UK.
“Yes I do operate primarily from the UK, but I have never seen that as a problem or an issue, as communication and dealings are made pretty much easy through email and mobile phones. I don’t think it has affected my reach because my reputation precedes me and this has helped open doors locally too. To be fair though, my clients are more attracted to what can be achieved internationally than locally, especially if they have already conquered a lot locally,” she explains.
Mentioned as Kizz Daniel’s official management company after a major issue involving Davido, Rebecca Junaid explains the rollercoaster experience without saying much.
“In as much as I am glad I had the experience of working with this artist, as it opened my eyes to a lot of things I personally wasn’t really aware of or ever experienced before, I honestly would rather not talk about it at all.“
Celebrities come in various shades of crazy and a collection of ego sizes, but Rebecca Junaid has seen them all. On what her worst experience has been, managing a celebrity client, she explains.
“Trust me I could go on and on, but for me it was more about the total disrespect, disregard, unprofessionalism, lack of belief and trust from the artist.“
On whether she would change anything about the artiste management profession in Nigeria, if she had the power to, she goes off on a long explanation.
“Hmmm… e plenty haha. First of all, I feel a lot of artists don’t even understand what management means in Nigeria. A lot of artists in Nigeria don’t have managers; they have P.As, basically someone that does all their bidding, dirty work and more. Also because there’s really no structure, they really don’t understand that you can actually have different managers, e.g Business manager, Road manager, Tour manager, Stage manager, etc.
But because they try to kill 2 birds with one stone, the one manager becomes jack of all trades and in most cases master of none. So for me, I feel educating themselves about the business side of music is very important, structuring and most importantly believing/trusting in that structure that has been setup no matter what and if one or two changes needs to be made then make them.
So in a nutshell, I would say to educate the managers and artists to have a better knowledge and understanding of that side of the business and how it works.”
Just JoJo Entertainment is definitely prepared for the future with the recent signing of a new talented artist by the name Jobaa to their label/ management.
“JustJoJo Entertainment is evolving and growing every day! Like I said before, we are now 100% independent distributors and this also allows our clients to have access to a lot more than what we could offer before, so for us these are exciting times,” she adds.
What use are achievements if they are not listed and shared with the world? So we asked Rebecca Junaid to share her major milestones.
“Quite a few… Introducing Selebobo to Yemi Alade and Taiye Aliyu resulting in the hit record “Johnny”, which has opened a lot of doors for us. Getting Yemi Alade on the Shell “Make the Future” deal for 2 years and being the first female to sell out an Afrobeat concert at the Indigo 02 in April 2019, to mention a few!” she replies excitedly.
And although Rebecca Junaid probably has made quite a handful of smiling journeys to the bank, she insists that her passion is what really drives her.
“Passion first! Very important for me. I am not money driven at all, though it’s nice when you can obviously earn from it, but passion first does it for me.”
Like many of her influential clientele, Rebecca Junaid has a well developed sense of confidence. On how she would describe herself, she doesn’t miss a beat when she says,
“Rebecca Junaid is a STRONG BLACK WOMAN, proudly African, a Wife, a Mother, an Entrepreneur and a Music Executive passionate about the music business.”
With a successful track record that speaks for itself, it’s hard not to agree with her.
This article was written by Henri ‘Yire; connect on Instagram with him here