Why our music industry needs professionalism –Dejo Richards | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why our music industry needs professionalism –Dejo Richards

Posted: Apr 11, 2015 at 4:47 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Monalisa Chinda’s ex, Dejo Richards, have always been in the news. Most times, it is all about his life and relationships. In this interview with Snr Correspondent, Hazeez Balogun, Richards speaks about what he’s been up to



Since you left Question Marks Entertainment, what have you been up to?

Since Question Marks, I have been very busy. As you likely know, I have been doing a number of events here and there, and also I have been managing and promoting various artistes. I am a management consultant, I brand, promote, develop content, shoot commercials, and I run an audio visual production firm. My nature or job is service inclined. It has always been work, work, work. Many of the brands you see out there had at one time or the other worked with us.

We gather that you are about to go on air with a TV programme, tell us what it is all about?

It is a lifestyle television programme that is shot in five countries; Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana and in the UK. It has over 15 segments that ranges from automobile, movies, fashion, events, comedy and a lot more. We have worked extensively and we are in the concluding phase. It should start airing in the first quarter of next year. The show also feature top notch brands from the countries already mentioned, and also explore various upcoming talents and future stars in the making in these countries.

There was a time you were working on a musical work, and it was well reported but all of a sudden all the noise about it went down, what really happened?

I am multi-talented and I can do a number of things. I come from a deep rooted Christian family and also very involved in music. Not just that I own a record label but also coming from a background where music is the norm. I decided to do something on my own. At that time, I looked at my life and everything I have gone through, I see that God has been good to me and the enemy has not been able to break me down or stop me. So I decided to do a Gospel track which I used to thank God.

It is called ‘If not for God’ which I recorded and shot a video for. But I had big plans for the video, I was to shoot in many countries and not just Nigeria. But as a very busy man, I got distracted, I had some jobs I had to focus on and before you know it, I left the project on hold. It is not totally off though it is a project I will definitely go back to. Right now my company is working on a lot of stuff, and we also have some artistes we are working on. Also, the television show is our main priority now. I am putting a lot into quality control. I cannot afford to take my eyes off it.

Tell us a bit about your background?

I went to University of Ilorin and from there I got a SISCO certification in Nigeria. Then I decided to go to the UK to take a Cambrige certification examination. But really, most of those education was to help me become a better manager and help myself as an entrepreneur. I never thought for one day to work for anybody.

We learn’t that while in Unilorin you were like the showboy and you headed a social club?

I came from a privileged background so it was easy for me to mingle with other privileged students. I was one of the few people who drove a car as a student in those days. I have four siblings and I am the only one living in Nigeria. My mum was a matron in Lagos State Teaching Hospital, LUTH, before moving to Saudi Arabia to practice. So it was easy for me to have all I desired. In the social scene, I decided to join an elitist student club which was called ‘Cavaliers’. In fact I think that was what shaped me for entertainment.

Being in the club, we were meant to wear only designer clothes. We were to speak only to the posh ladies, and also to have exclusive parties. To be sincere, I think all that helped me develop my branding skills and always wanting the best either for my company or my clients. It also helped me draw my bounds.

Let us into your business history and how you got into entertainment

I have been self-employed since I left university. When I left school, I was able to raise enough capital, to the range of millions of Naira. That was huge in those days. Then I started off a business. IT was relatively new in Nigeria then and I saw a big opportunity to make money. Then Supernet 300 was very new, and I was one of the few service providers in the country as at that time. In 1999, I opened a multimedia, business centre where everything pertaining to the office was done. We were different then because we also offered internet access. Then, those were very few. We also were into the telecoms a bit. We were selling intercellular and Multilinks phones. Those days if it’s not NITEL, then it is Intercellular and Multilinks. This was before the advent of GSM. So it was a comprehensive business set up.

Later I diversified into lumbering and timber business. I bought a few Bedford trucks, those are the trucks popularly known to the Yorubas as ‘Agbegilodo’ (wood transporters). I was taking my trucks to various towns and villages buying wood and reselling them in Lagos. Sometimes, we just do haulage of these woods. The business was hard, but was rewarding too. It was after that, that I went to London to further my education.

When I came back, I set out into another direction. This time I went into the hospitality business. I opened up a restaurant called Bobo Put Africana in Isolo. So you can see that I have had my hands into a lot of businesses.

How did you venture into entertainment?

Entertainment has always been in me. Entertainment started for me with artiste management. I started with a Nollywood artiste who by God’s grace is a very successful movie brand today. I have been privileged to work with a lot of music artistes when I was in Question Marks. Questions Marks was a joint venture with some other individuals you know. It was there I was able to nurture top artistes you know today that are products of Question mark. It was after that, that I went on my own setting up my own label and delving more into events, promotions, and branding.

Why leave Question Mark?

Like I said, Question Mark was a joint venture. I was the Chief executive of Question Mark and a chief partner. Whatever I do, I wanted everything to be perfect. There were a lot of things that were not going on right on the label, and you already know how that played up. So I decided to leave. Besides, like I said, I do better working on my own business. That was why I left and set up my own label, promoting my own artistes.

Artiste management and promotion is not something that is too popular in Nigeria, many label die off easily after a brief stint. Why does this happen?

Without blowing my own horn, I think I am very successful at that, and that is why I am still in it till today. For others that have failed, there is one thing you have to know, a record label needs to be very professional. Professionalism in the business is something I always advocate for. It is an industry that should have standards and basics. In music management, there should be a clear line in record labels, artiste managers, artiste and repertoire and music promoters. They all need expertise. There should be a clear definition of various artiste brands, their style, their market, their story and their PR. A lot of record labels do not have consultants, many just set up a label and just sign on artistes and at the end of the day fail to achieve anything. Those who hire consultants in all the various fields I have listed are those that are still standing today. All the same, the industry is still growing and many will start to see the need for professionalism

Everything you have mentioned sounds prim and proper, yet many artistes in Nigeria still make it big without all that.

Yes, there are artistes who are doing good now, and doing everything for themselves. It is very true, but the question is, how long did it take them to be where they are today? How many pitfalls have they faced? How many trial and error have they done? It took them a long time to learn all these things, so now they know how to move their brand, and what they stand for as artistes. It took them years to get there. But there are thousands more artistes who tried, failed and never got up again. With proper management, a talented artiste can achieve his dream, and the label will also get return on their investment in a short time if they focus on important details, if they consult the right people. With that, what another achieved in seven years going through all the process on his own, and learning everything by themselves, they can achieve in one year. In developed countries, the job of an artiste is to go to the studio to record and go on stage to perform. They don’t care about how their songs are marketed, how it is publicised, or even how they are managed as artistes. Some do not even write their own songs. They don’t even know who writes their songs for them. Labels focus on all that, working with various consultants. But here the artiste does all that for himself. All over the world music management is a major part of the industry.

What else should be expected from you aside your television show?

There are a lot of events we will be working on in the near future. We also are planning an award but we are still holding on to all that and concentrating on the television show. We want it to also be on radio too, so there is a lot of work to do.

You have your fair share of bad press and people talking about your life and relationships, how has that affected your life?

When you are in the public glare there are a lot of things that comes with it. I am a simple person, my turn on is intellectuality and my turn off is dishonesty. I am a perfectionist and do not compromise standard. That for itself is a reason why some certain quarters have misunderstood me and termed me for what I am not. If you know me personally, you will know that I am a simple, approachable and very honest person. I will not see what is bad and say it is good. I say things the way it is and I am not scared to say it. In time people will get to know more of my personality and many misconceptions will be put in proper perception.

So you say stories about your relationships are false?


So are you planning to take legal actions?

I have seen how people that are not detailed and lazy do their jobs. They put pen to paper and write what they don’t know. I have seen how people that are supposed to know decide to say false things. We are in a country that has laws, rules and regulations. When your fundamental right is trampled upon, then action should be taken. All these things they are saying about my life, I would challenge them to bring just one shred of evidence, to back up their stories.

All that does not bother me, I just shove it off. I know myself and I don’t think there is nothing going on in my life that is special that no other person is facing. I am focused more on my work, I don’t focus on all the talk. It takes a lot to distract me. Most of all I read just help my resolve and makes me stronger. I laugh a lot when I go online and read these things. A lot of my friends see it and they are surprised because they know me. I really don’t know how they do it. It amuses me how jobless some people can be. I am here working on how to make money, some people sit down on their computers writing what they want about me. Well, they say that if people don’t talk about you, then you are nobody. Maybe they love my name that’s why they like writing about me. I am enjoying the whole thing though. Like I said, this is a country that has laws, if you continue to say false things about someone and the law frowns at such things, then, expect that there will be a scapegoat one of these days.  I have lawyers and we are continually assessing the situation, very soon, someone will have to pay for their illegalities.

Can you tell us what led to the break up between you and Monalisa Chinda.

Please that has been some years ago, and I am over that now. Talking about such things is like going back to the past. I am someone who looks forwards and not backwards. There has been many talk on my side about the whole issue, I think it is time for me to forget about all that and move on. So on that issue, I will respectfully say no comment.