Music Business

Davido: Kamal Ajiboye is fired but does Asa Asika have the maturity to manage super star’s global brand?

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About this time last year, Davido signed a recording deal with Sony Music and the news went viral. Of course, the signing was accompanied with the necessary pageantry. During that period, I was probably one of the few voices, if not the only voice, that said, explicitly, THIS IS A BAD DEAL. It didn’t make sense. I mean why sign a “standard” recording deal with Sony when you are a record label owner and artist with critical mass/success globally? Global trends and analysis, among other things and in my view, did not justify such a signing, except that on the part of Sony, it was a great move for expansion into Nigeria and West Africa. Of course, about the same time, Sony opened its office in Nigeria.

A year after that signing, Davido has fired his music manager Kamal Ajiboye, who from all photos, press statements etc. was involved in helping effectuate the Sony deal. He also had some not so nice subliminal things to say, via social media, about letting Ajiboye go. As for his Sony deal, he now seems to imply he understood it was not necessarily his strongest move from a dealing making standpoint.

“F***k all the international sh*t!…back to basics”,  is a message Davido shared via social media a few days prior to hiring a new manager.

It is what it is. Managers come, managers go. Artists sign deals, then they regret it. C’est la vie. Artists, read Africa Music Law and save yourselves present and future headaches. In any event, if we doubted that Ajiboye was fired, we didn’t have to wait too long to be introduced to Davido’s new hire, Asa Asika.

About four years ago, Asika served as a manager to Davido. He was successful but the relationship reached an impasse partly because Davido and his team believed Asika lacked the maturity and business acumen to help scale his brand across the continent of Africa. Fast-forward to 2017 and the same exact issues present themselves. Davido is now a global brand. Asika is still young, he is only 27. Does he have the business acumen, and equally important, the relationships, globally and in key music markets, to further expand the Davido brand?

If the answer is “yes,” what is his track record since his split with Davido in 2012?

My initial thoughts are as follows:

  1. The Nigerian entertainment industry is very young so anyone making youth an issue should take several seats. I don’t see it as an impediment, at all. If you play outside of the African market and want to do business in Africa, especially where music is concerned, get ready to deal with young or younger people.
  2. I don’t think it is that hard to sell Davido, except for his periodic crazy social media behaviors that could jeopardize the revenue streams of a brand doing business with him. Davido comes as an ideal client to an innovative, extremely driven manager. You just have to put in the work. The artist and his music already speak volumes and is an easy sell barring any immediate and complete self-destruction and the brand.
  3. Asika needs a GREAT team. Managers should have their own strong independent infrastructure and team from the artists they manage, especially when dealing with an artist-entrepreneur like Davido. They should build strong systems that will ensure efficiency, and they should have a team that understands and can execute their visions.
  4. Asika has to pay great attention independent of live entertainment income, to what he can do for Davido in terms of music publishing and monetization of recorded music. A lot of that hinges on the contract Davido signed with Sony. Davido claimed Africa was hands-off in his Sony deal. This may or may not be a problem for Asika in the digital space. Indeed, we saw a conflict with the geographical, protected or exclusive territory clause when Davido dropped ‘Gbagbe Oshi’ in the last quarter of 2016.  Sony restricted the audio visual/music video to only Africa. After an uproar from Davido fans, the company was forced to lift the ban. Asika has to worry about Davido’s Sony recording agreement both from a compliance standpoint and how to approach what should be an aggressive pursuit of alternative streams of income for his artist.

AML people, the bottom line is this. While there is still so much money to be made in Africa, Davido is a global brand and he needs a manager who has strong business acumen, connections, easily and effectively straddles a local and global market, is hungry, and can cultivate relationships and deliver strong numbers, monetarily, on the boards.  Is Asika that manager? Only time will tell.

What are your thoughts? Did Davido make the right move in firing Ajiboye and hiring Asika?

-Ms. Uduak

Exhibits

Disclaimer: Crude/expletive language. Your eyes may fall out from the subliminals and tasteless jabs. Read at your own discretion.

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Africa Music Law™

AFRICA MUSIC LAW™ (AML) is a pioneering music business and entertainment law website and podcast show empowering the African artist and Africa's rapidly evolving entertainment industry through brilliant music business and entertainment law commentary and analysis, industry news, and exclusive interviews.

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ABOUT THE FOUNDER

Credited for several firsts in the fashion and entertainment industry, Uduak Oduok (Ms. Uduak) is a fashion and entertainment lawyer, speaker, visionary, gamechanger, trailblazer, and recognized thought leader, for her work on Africa’s emerging global fashion and entertainment markets, and the niche practice of fashion law in the United States. She is also the founder of ‘Africa Music Law,’ an industry go-to music business and law blog and podcast show empowering African artists. Her work in the creative and legal industries has earned her numerous awards and recognitions, including an award from the American University Washington College of Law for her “legal impact in the field of intellectual property in Africa." She has also taught as an Adjunct Professor at several institutions in the United States. For more information, visit her at https://msuduak.com.

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