Ugbaja Emeka Augustine, also known as Dr. Whyte, is a music executive and the CEO of California-based music enterprise, Southnice Records. His passion for good music knows no bounds and he is determined to do all he can for the industry at large. Augustine tells Tosin Clegg about his kind of music, plans to discover and promote raw talents in Nigeria and much more
How western culture influenced my perspective as a music business expert
Most things are done professionally in America; people here strive for excellence. There is a unique structure in the entertainment business. There is no specialisation in the entertainment industry in Nigeria and that is why we are still struggling. In America’s music industry, everything is done through division of labour. There are people who are specialised in sound engineering, audio engineering, voice training and music promotion. Everyone knows their area of specialisation and they don’t try to do everything. This is what I have been exposed to and I have come to realise that this is why our system is failing. In Nigeria, everyone is trying to do everything that they are not trained to do.
Factors affecting the Nigerian entertainment industry
Lack of structure, inadequate training, poor funding and poor support from the government are the bane of Nigeria’s music industry. The government should design and establish ministries that would help harness the pool of talents we have in the country. I intend to invest in talent development for young people and many more who are gifted in music and entertainment to have a reason to live their dreams. I have already started this by setting up a record label, Southnice Records, and we currently have one artiste, Beevlingz, who happens to be from Ubulu Uku in Delta State.
This year, we are planning a big talent audition in Delta State to find talented people we intend to sponsor. Delta State has a pool of talents, not given an opportunity out there; that’s why my team and I are already making big plans to develop a talent and skills development center in the heart beat of the state.
This will help put Delta on the entertainment map. The more talents we have like Erigga, Igodye, Ali Baba, Realwarripikin, Victor Ad and the likes, the more the world would begin to pay attention to people from Delta State. At this point, a lot of talents from Delta State are being overlooked, so our goal is to change the narrative. We have plans to sign two more artistes in the second half of 2020. We are still looking out for not just talented people but hard working talents who are ready to put in the work with committed discipline for success.
Artistes and contract crisis
Whenever there is a breach in music contract, the artiste is always the first to be blamed and that’s because they never take their time to understand what was stated in the contract before signing their life away. So, whatever terms the label throws at them, irrespective of the outcomes, they jump at it without thinking about what will happen five years ahead. This is the major reason why there is always a breach of contract. Anyone who creates a contract will always try to put terms and conditions that favour them more, and if you as an artiste doesn’t know the terms and conditions, including the consequences, then you are doomed to have issues in future if your brand becomes bigger than the terms offered you.
Role of record labels
Record labels are going into extinction but this, to a large extent, owes to the fact that they are no more breaking new artistes, which is the sole reason record companies were created in the first place. A label during the times of Hip Hop was formed to build superstars from the scratch. Labels are supposed to keep finding fresh talents and developing them into global superstars. These days, what labels do is to put money into promoting artistes who are already gaining massive audiences. This is solely because most artistes these days don’t have the patience to transform into global artiste, since it involves hard work, consistency and patience.
What it takes to break an artiste today
Undoubtedly, it takes a lot of trust and finance to break a new artiste in this 21st century. This is the era of social media and online streaming. To break a new artiste lately, it all depends on a game of numbers and influencing power. When you find the right type of artiste the audience is looking for and with the right type of song the results will be commercial success.
Fear of investing in the music industry
So, just like every businessman, there are always fears while investing in an artiste or in the entertainment business. Most of the fears always come from whether these investments would be worth it, will the artiste put in the necessary amount of work to make this money back. It takes a very hardworking artiste to compensate for every penny spent.
My advice for new labels and upcoming artistes today
Majorly, it’s for emerging artistes to stay consistent, be smart and keep working on improving your craft every day. Your next song should be better than your last song. Stay hungry for more.