The new Pretty Okafor-led caretaker of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN) has brought facelifts to the body. Since his assumption into the exalted office, the veteran musician has carried out different laudable initiatives.
In a recent chat with newsmen in Lagos, top rapper, Ruggedman, spoke extensively on what musicians stand to gain from the revitalised PMAN. Excerpts.
What is your perception on the recent Biometric Card introduced by PMAN?
It is a good idea because the Biometric Card helps in the barcoding of songs by artistes, meaning artistes songs can be tracked when sold and get paid instantly. The era of free downloading is no more. The card connects artistes to the bank so that when your music is sold or downloaded, the money goes straight into your account; no more ‘wait until next week when I finish selling then I will give you the money’ and then the major part of it something that has never happened in the Nigerian music industry is as you register with PMAN, once you get the ID card, you get life insurance, health insurance and a pension scheme, which has never happened before and it’s starting now.
Do now think this strategy introduced will favour artistes?
It is going to favour me and everybody. There is this company called GS3, what they do is once they barcode your songs and enters the system, anywhere your songs must have been downloaded; it will track it and get there. Even if your song has been downloaded say 20 years ago, it will track it and your money paid. This is why it will be good for both old and new artistes. This is when I will know if Nigerians thoroughly like their Nigerian artistes, now that they will have to pay to download the songs, let’s see if they will rush to download the 200,000 downloads, 500,000 downloads free and the artistes will come out and brag yeah, I got 1million downloads but without any kobo in his account.
How would describe late Dan Maraya Jos?
I will not lie to you, he is an icon, he is a legend in the Nigerian music industry and I will not lie, I was really hoping if it was going to be possible to do something with him because I am one person that is very spontaneous and adventurous. It is a big loss for the Nigerian music industry especially now that we are celebrating music.
Your song, ‘I can’t come and kill myself,’ sounds more commercial than your usual, why?
Yeah, I’m more of a rapper but overall, I’m still an entertainer, I’m a musician, I’m not a one track minded person, I like to experiment. I wanted to do something a bit different from my normal rap thing and I remembered a saying in Yoruba, ‘Mi ole wa lo pa arami,’ I just switched it to pidgin, ‘I can’t come and go and kill myself,’ so I just wanted to do a happy song and that’s why I did it.
Do you agree with Eedris’ opinion in ‘Jagaga’?
Well, a bit has changed but, well, we have a new President but if it is about the past President, a whole lot of things were done wrong, there was too much embezzlement that was allowed to go, a lot of misconducts, a lot of financial mismanagements which to me were part of the major things that worked against the Jonathan’s government.
What is the way forward for the Nigerian music industry?
This is the way forward for the industry, what PMAN is doing right now, this structure PMAN is trying to put in place, this biometric ID card, barcoding of songs and what this means is that once your song is barcoded, there is a code to your song just like when you go to the supermarket and they scan it, that’s the bar code. They have the ones for the songs and the one for your CD and you scan it then automatically money goes into your account. PMAN gets the percentage, the artiste gets his percentage and the record label gets its percentage and I like the fact that PMAN is coming with NIPOST even though they are not as effective as they used to be because a lot of people use emails but they are still there. So basically, once an album comes out, they are spread to every NIPOST offices so all the marketers in those cities will not have to come to Lagos anymore to buy albums rather they go to the NIPOST office in their states. Once you pick it up from NIPOST, it would be scanned if you have paid for it, the money goes into your account. This is why I said this is the future of Nigerian music.
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Who would be handling the whole transaction or don’t you think it would be hijacked?
By who? Banks are handling the money, Microsoft will be handling the collation of data, GS3 is handling barcoding, who will hijack it? Once you register, it indicates that you have registered. These are your songs and the barcodes and your ID card, who can hijack it?
With all these packages, do you intend to do more music?
Definitely, you do music until you can’t do music. See, in America, Diana Ross is still there doing music. Do you want to know how old she is? There are people that are 80 in America doing music because they have a structure. A James Brown is dead today but his family still makes money from many of his songs because his songs are registered. It is an organised society with a structure which we’ve not had in Nigeria which is what Pretty is bringing in now.
What do you think is the problem between artistes and record label these days?
Structure; this is because if the artiste does not really know how much you put in, he will not appreciate it and if the label does not come out plain with the artiste. Now there is a structure, finances and every other thing put down on paper, the artiste is told how much the label has spent, in fact, let me say structure and greed. Because a label will push an artiste and spend millions and when the artiste becomes big, he starts acting funny. I had an artiste sometimes ago saying that the artiste brand is bigger than the label, forgetting that it was the label that made it a brand; that is where the greed comes into play. For the label, at least you should let the label recoup the money they spent on you.
Do you think your brand will over-shadow artistes under your own label?
Not for me because for Ruggedman, what I have done is to slow down a bit to enable me concentrate on my artiste and until I build him to a certain level, then everything will pick up. Then what I also do is to feature them in my songs.
How many years contract do you sign with your artiste?
How did entertainment all start for you?
I have been interested in entertainment from as far back I can remember. so I guess I just followed suit because back then, when I watch music videos and read musical magazines, I see that the artistes have other businesses they do like clothing, books, movies, drinks, I guess that is why I decided to get along.
When will your album be ready?
It would be ready in 2015 and my artiste, Mbryo would be on it because he is my property and if I don’t bring him on the album, it will slow down his growth. Also, I will be officially launching my clothing line soon, though it is already on sale, but will be doing the official launching soon.