D’Banj has walked the Nigeria music scene for more than a decade. In this interview with SAMUEL ABULUDE, the Kokomaster speaks on life after marriage, his CREAM project and other issues.
With your CREAM project, is your own music career taking a back seat for now?
Music is still on the front burner for me. Recall I released my latest album, King Don Come” in August. The project is my fourth solo studio album since I came into limelight 12 years ago. At the same time, I think that most artistes focus more on the creative side of showbiz than the business angle. Nigerian music industry needs more talented managers and business craftsmen, who know how to monetise contents and brand artistes. Musicians must endeavour to hire mangers that will manage their brands and turn N1 million into N10 million. You will agree with me that almost every family in Nigeria has a show man, a talented act, but what we need right now are resourceful brand managers and management companies to structure our industry so that artistes can make money out of their crafts. The business aspect of the Nigerian entertainment industry has not been given adequate attention.
What will you say is your biggest career decision?
The best decision wasn’t really from me, but it was when I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. It was when I added the business aspect to my musical career.
How have you being able to manage your business and personal life?
When I wear my glasses, I am Dbanj. When I remove the glasses, I am Daniel. On a serious note, I believe you have to keep your personal life as private as possible that is why it’s called a private life. I have had my fair share of being in the public eye, coming under public scrutiny and exposing myself to the public. Sometimes, I tell people that in the daytime, I am Daniel; at night when I go out for my shows, I am Dbanj. My business side is Daniel while my entertainment side is Dbanj. I just keep staying focused. Whatever I do not want the public to know, I try and keep it away from them.
Do you still have time for your Kokolet thing, with your tight schedule?
As I said before, I am a married man now; I don’t have time for that now.
With your busy career, do you create time for your wife?
I think my wife is in the best position to answer your question. Of course, I can’t forget my fans because they are the ones who are making my business boom. Like I said, I am a married man and right now I am focused on the creation of wealth for the future. By so doing, my son, Daniel, can see some visible wealth on the table in future.
Why did you establish CREAM platform?
CREAM platform was established to harness genuine creative talents across the genres of entertainment, arts and entrepreneurship in all the states of Nigeria. The platform is not designed to sign the winners but market their content. To this end, we will collaborate with record labels to sign these talents. So, you can call CREAM the Google of African talents. I agreed to become an ambassador of Bank of Industry because they told me that they wanted to help structure and better monetise the creative industry. At the time, they did not understand how we (entertainers) ran our business. That was when I started Koko Garri and they gave us a loan of N50 million to start CREAM platform. And we were able to pay them back in six months and this was possible because in three months, we had over three million subscribers. It really surpassed my expectations.
Two months ago on your Instagram page you announced that your CREAM platform is worth $130 million. Do you still stand by that figure?
To answer your question, the platform was valued by KPMG nine months into the launch for 130 million dollars. Honestly I was surprised, since this is a platform, which we just launched, and an idea that God gave us with a wonderful team we put together. For it to be valued over 1 million dollars is a wonderful thing and to answer your question, has it changed? I think it has. We have had so much potential and investments and all and even expansion into other countries and offers are coming. I believe next time we sit here and talk about valuation, the platform will be worth much more.
A lot of people are saying this is a scam, since many were picked randomly; can you react to that?
You were here today and you saw how it was explained. It is not a platform for lottery alone. The lottery part is an added incentive. For example, it is as if you buy Coca-Cola and under the cork, you saw that you have won something. The real reason the Cream aspect was created is to search for genuine and creative talents. It is a platform where you will create the musical video of the songs of different artistes you want to post on-line. It is now left for the different judges to pass a verdict on it. The lottery aspect is an added thing, because if you cannot win from the competition at the end of the show, you can always try your luck from the lottery side. For those who have already received their money on the lottery side, they already know it is not a scam. I believe, you will witness more winners very soon. The lottery winners we saw today were picked randomly from different parts of Nigeria.
Do you think that the CREAM program will affect your agricultural program and will you sign winners of the CREAM competition on your Record Label?
My agricultural program was started in the year 2014 during the campaign; for me, Koko garri has come to stay, and we are really striving very hard to meet your demand. Since it was launched, the demand has been very high, and we are doubling our efforts to meet the demand from the site in Shagamu, Ogun State. As to your second question, the CREAM competition was not created for our record label to sign the winners to our record label, because as you know, you might sign an artiste today, and in the next two years, you might see him/her opting out of your Record Label, because he/she is doing great. As you also know that when you signing an artiste, you will be planning on developing his/her songs and studio sessions, but that has already been done by the contestants on the CREAM program before contesting on our platform. When the judges and your mentor check your songs and videos, they will give advice and know the part they can help you with. We will expose the winners to the public by helping him/her to develop the videos and help him in the marketing and distribution. We don’t sign, but we can introduce the winners to different Record Labels.
Don’t you think that channeling so much time, effort and money on the CREAM platform may affect your music career negatively?
I don’t think so. We will be having partnerships with other brands that can take them on road trips. It will be reminiscent of what Nigerian Breweries did for me in 2004 with Star trek that put me on the world map. People ask me what I stand for and I tell them I stand for visible hope for Nigeria’s many talents and I am proud to say I can see myself rendering help to more with support from our partners.