Dayo Adeyelure is the MD/CEO of Uber Sponsorships – a sponsorship consultancy, brand partnership, and talent booking agency in the entertainment industry. In this exposé, Dayo shares key insights on how up and coming artistes, producers and entrepreneurs in the industry can acquire funding, grow sustainable businesses and build kickass brands.
– By Dayo Adeyelure
Funding A Career In The Music Industry
The basic misconception in ‘funding’ a career is the one of ‘money’. In actual terms, funding a career is simply ACCESS. Access can come in varying forms, the most common being money. It is important to note that aside from money there are several critical things needing to align for a successful career; the singular most important being human capital and networking. To fully understand the proper way to fund a music career, the concept of ‘Value or Value Added’ must be appreciated. Everything you get, earn or have access to use for economic benefit is Funding. This can include something as intangible as goodwill, a reference to actual tangible value of cash or use of assets (equipment).
As a consultant, my first advice to a person looking for funding, is to identify and quantify all the requirements they need to achieve their objectives and identify the cash and non-cash components. We are able to provide business advisory, core intellectual property management and general logistic and operational support. While you can’t deposit these offerings, they are provided with economic capital of time, resource allocation and most importantly intellectual investment, and YES they have to be paid for in CASH.
Human capital remains the single most important platform for entrepreneurs looking to start a business in the industry. Success is normally measured by the quality of people you surround yourself with. However, cash remains king, and is a quick and seamless way of those key pieces of hardware and equipment, so I guess an equal and even split of efforts in generating cash and cultivating human capital/building a network of support (Infrastructure or Goodwill) would be my position.
One major challenge is that many newbies get very desperate and accept anything that looks like cash. They are likely to do anything and accept any term in exchange for funding. They practically sell themselves in exchange for cash. Due to the nature of our industry environment of man-know-man or “come back with experience,” it is very hard for newbies to break through. It becomes practically impossible for a talented yet unconnected person to make it primarily due to the lack of opportunity, funding and infrastructure.
I tend to see issues and setbacks as obstacles to overcome to reach your goals, and in response to the aforementioned challenges, I’d say NETWORK. It is incomparable the amount of goodwill, opportunities and ‘deals’ you would find if you insert yourself in the right positions to meet people. Networking is also not just about ‘meeting’ as it takes significant work to strategize on who, how and when to approach an investor, partner or company and pitch your position. So it’s not about being at all the parties or events, its more about selecting the right places and people to meet, and be readily armed with your pitch, a good story to tell, and a winning smile. Networking has always been the strongest platform in my career. I try to put myself in a position or environment where I can meet people who I think can be of support at some point in time.
The Role Of Music Labels
There are two schools of thought; people who feel the music labels are a waste of time and people who feel they are the foundation. Music labels in Nigeria are not currently doing what they’re supposed to do. These labels want to be the booking agent, the talent manager, the record label, publisher, among others. The labels try to position themselves as all-in-one and that is one of the major challenges of operating with music labels in Nigeria. I believe they should specialize in just producing music and leave the rest to the specialist experts in distribution, publishing, booking, etc. Doing the right thing will help them protect their investments. They can have royalties and percentages across board which means higher profits for all. It is important to re-focus the labels in the vein, as the issues you find are primarily due to the labels being stretched thin, fingers in every pie, and doing everything but actual music production!
Forming Strategic Partnerships For Growth
There are quite a number of partnerships across the different sectors. In music distribution, there are those who do the distribution of hard copies (CD and DVD) and those who do it digitally like Spotify, Cloud 9, iTunes, etc. It is becoming a bit easier because these platforms constantly look for content, regardless of the popularity. The world is going digital and rightly so, artistes should ensure that they can follow the new trend of digital distribution, from a knowledge and operational standpoint. I put knowledge before operations, simply because of the sheer number of failed partnerships, ventures and music deals. It’s easy to point fingers and lay blame, but the foundation of most music partnerships are based on shaky grounds. Take a label, working to do and become everything from distribution to branding to road management to everything, and justifying this with increased ‘share’. The artiste will at some point, feel the amounts generated by his/her brand and talents, are not reaching him/her from a personal standpoint. This is where the ‘What did you sign’ and ‘Contract review’ issues come up creating distrust, real or perceived slights and the general breakdown in communication. There also remains a significant responsibility for the artiste to clearly understand what sorts of partnership terms and commitments he is willing to enter into, and critically for how long.
There remains a need for strategic partnership, but the number one factor should be transparency, following which knowledge gained and applied can be used for mutually beneficial relationships. I’ve always believed in professional advice for both artiste and label, which is one of the functions our entity provides, from a position of strength garnered from years of experience in both good and not so good strategic relations.
Working with Managers
The first thing you do before you hire/work a manager, is to get a Lawyer! (Preferably one with experience in entertainment matters). Despite the cumbersome and difficult legal process in Nigeria, the benefits far outweigh any other issues. It is critical to define the performance indicators of managers, and identify simple measuring tools for them. Number of gigs, number of road shows, endorsement deals, etc. Simple and quantifiable metrics will ensure that the review periods are seamless and transparent. It is also important to note that the manager’s ability is largely dependent on your talent. If you have quality content, it’s only reasonable to expect some attention and buzz, which the manager will harness and turn into monetization opportunities, wherein he gets paid.
I fully believe that a Manager/Artiste relationship should be a strategic partnership, with both parties having skin in the game to ensure goal congruence. This eliminates issues of pricing, transparency and drives collective behaviour.
Financial Prudency Regardless Of The Glitz And Glam
There is a certain level of opulence the music industry promotes. However, it is important to note that even Superstars live in moderation! Sure you can buy expensive designer wear for the biggest red carpet, but daily, it’s better to be in the studio in tee and jeans, trust me no one will check your labels. Artistes who started from scratch and made a name for themselves, are quite well off, but yet have decorum and prudence with their finances and purchases. You will find them in some glitzy razz matazz, but it’s all for the ‘camera’ as they say, and when they get home, it’s grinding and more music. I have been privileged to work with a few of them, and honestly the glitziest thing you can do is continue to make chart topping music, everything else is for the ‘gram’ and therefore not as important. These guys know the value of money and try not to abuse it. My advice is for new artistes to try to align with the financial management and economic savvy of these artistes. You can have the glitz and glam but focus on delivering value through your content and you will be fine.
Getting Your First Endorsement Deal Through Social influence
The idea of endorsement only started getting popular about five years ago, and before then, artistes were making it big. You can’t have just one or two hit songs and then feel it’s good enough to start getting endorsement deals. Companies don’t just throw endorsements away, there is always an objective. And if you figure out what the objectives of the company are, you can then tailor yourself to be an ambassador for that brand.
Nowadays, organisations pay for positive social media influence. They are moving from music artistes to influencers. Build your base of influence, pick two or three organisations with a problem you can solve through your music or through your online influence and make a proposal. It all still boils down to networking; who have you met, who do you know, whose hands have you shook and who have you had a discussion with? Those are the guys that will fight your battles for you.
Even if you’re not an artiste with popular music but you know how social media works and you have millions of subscribers, you can begin to monetise your followership. That is measurable impact for brands because you can track response and reach to sponsored ads. If you are not selling music, go social.
Giving Back Through Investment
Those who have succeeded reinvest in talent so they can control the ecosystem. They look for talent that will come under them and start that process all over again. That is the best way to reinvest, if you want to remain in the industry. There are other ways to invest, but the best is to groom people that you can control and then you can start a business from there.
Always seek professional help. Don’t assume you know everything and don’t try to emulate everyone. Not all tactics are right. Find your own grounds, sit with people who know the business, who understand the business, communicate your objectives and then build a plan around it. You can then just come over to Uber sponsorships and talk to us.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read more articles.