One of the great and prolific mind that has contributed immensely to the success story of the Nigerian music industry is veteran music producer, songwriter and music artiste, Okungbowa Jezreel Babatunde, popularly called, OJB. Naijalog crew of Amenaghawon Anthony and Timielehin Adebayo recently had an exclusive interview with him where he spoke on his experiences before and after the surgery and his future plans.
Life after the surgery
It has been tough after the operation. Doing the operation is one step and life after itself is another phase. A time when you have to live a new life, with a new set of rules, adapting to new regimen can actually be difficult and challenging. Your sleep patterns have to change, your diet and health hygiene must change. It is a bit of a challenge keeping up with this new way of life. Also in the last one year, I have been rushed to the hospital 6-7 times. I am used to going to bed late, say around 3 am but now as early as 10 am, I have to force myself to be on bed.
Lessons learnt during your trying moments
One of the greatest lessons I learnt is that it’s good to touch lives, I was not looking at those who donated hundreds of thousands, millions but I was impressed by those who went to the bank to pay in one thousand naira and those small sums. It clearly showed that lives were touched, I was not touching lives with the mind that I must touch lives it was just happening. The greatest lesson for me is that when you are up there, touch lives.
Future plans and the next step
Definitely, I’m looking at releasing an album, however at this stage as I approach 50 years, my main focus is to do more of humanitarian services and basically touch lives.
Content wise how can the Nigerian music industry improve
To improve content, listeners must begin to demand to listen to good music, a case where people call a certain music crap and continue to use it has their ringtone, doesn’t correlate and it won’t make those musicians shore up their acts. Also, marketers and other stakeholders must also give other genres an opportunity to thrive, give listeners options to listen to variety of songs. Lots of people love pop, reggae, highlife, but if they have no other option they just tend to want to make do with what they have.
Piracy, how do we curb the menace?
The system is becoming worse and difficult to reduce. A whole lot of factors are contributing and aiding piracy into becoming a hydra-headed monster. The concept or idea of musicians and produces trying to give the (Alaba) marketers songs to promote for free so that it trends is one challenge.
Stakeholders in the industry should also curb free downloads, because music is what we need to profit from. Until artistes stand up to the tackle this dangling albatross with one voice, pirates will continue to smile to bank, while musicians and producers, who have invested their intellect, time, money and talent will continue to make meager sums, that is not commensurate to their efforts.
The government’s role, how supportive is the authority
Government is ready to come in and invest, but the main bane on the industry now is not having sustainable and verified records of earnings. There are many folklore cum hype about musicians buying a house of hundred million naira etc, but how do you track these record, to know what source the money came from, is it that a big fan in government gave the money or what? Musicians are supposed to make money from there art, what government needs from musicians is for the books to be open, if records and stats are well kept, then government will invest because decision makers in government know the music industry is a money spinner. But once the books can’t show us an analysis of what Musician A grossed for the release of his album, ringback tones, downloads etc. then government support will remain minimal. Once the records of what is accruable to musicians from these different revenue streams can be tracked and recorded, government will throw their more weight behind the industry, and with government support comes intervention from the banks, who will be more willing to give out loans to musicians and producers.
The way forward for the industry
In fairness to this new age industry, the high point of the industry is when we get to the level of BRAND EQUITY, where you push your brand to make millions of naira apart outside corporate endorsement. The likes of JAYZ and P Diddy have other businesses where they sell clothes etc to make a whole lot of money. An artiste like Tuface broke even and sold about 10million copies and got the international recognition. That’s the level we are aiming at now.
Advice for young Music producers and artiste
Be focused, be humble and keep it simple, don’t be swayed by the fame and freebies that come with stardom.