Music Business

Secrets of M.I Abaga & Audu Maikori’s Chocolate City Group: 5 Tactics That Keep Them on Top


I am working on the first Africa Music Law (AML) Insider report for 2011. If you are really serious about the business of music and/or you are in top management/ executive role in Nigeria’s music industry, then you really want to get with my AML report. If I am able to get it out this December 2011, great. If not, look for it in January 2012. It will be available as a PDF for you to download, print, read on your mobile devices etc.  One of the things I intend to discuss in my AML report is my view of Nigeria’s music industry labels that will lead the industry and country in the next five years, on a global front.  As a sneak peek, ranking at the top are Banky W’s EME Records and M.I Abaga/Audu Maikori’s Chocolate City Group (CCG).

CCG just released a self produced video clip  discussing and promoting the CCG brand. After viewing it, I deemed it proper to start our week with the business of music focusing on 5 tactics that keeps CCG on top of Nigeria’s music industry. These are tactics that can easily seem like “secrets” to the less business savvy.  However, these tactics when  implemented in your business whether you are an independent artist, a music label owner or other creative entrepreneur, can be the difference maker in keeping you at the top of your industry.

Chocolate City Subsidiaries

  •  Chocolate City Music
  • Chocolate City Distribution
  • Chocolate City Media

Chocolate City’s Executive Team Include:

  • Audu Maikori (Lawyer) – Founder & Chief Executive Officer
  • Paul Okeugo – Chief Operational Officer & Co-Founder
  • Yahaya Maikori (Lawyer) – Director/Chairman

5 Tactics that Keeps CCG on Top

Tactic #1 Good Leadership: A successful business starts and ends with good leaders. Over the years, I have watched the leaders at CCG (mentioned above) chart their own course. They have taken roads less traveled, stayed true to their values and preferences in the operation of CCG and recruited a  competent team that respects their values and are able to execute on their vision.

Applying this tactic to your businesses, unsigned artists, label executive owners etc. , while you may not be a natural born leader, you can certainly learn how to become  one. There are key essential traits leaders have that you can develop if  you are committed to being successful in your music business venture. They include : 1) a clear plan and vision; 2) the ability to execute your plan and vision effectively; 3) the ability to discern and hire competent staff to help execute your plan and vision; 4) the ability to inspire and motivate competent staff; and 5) the ability to be compassionate – it is not always about making that Naira/Dollars/Pounds.

Tactic #2 Innovation: A successful music business and/or artist needs to be willing to innovate and embrace innovation without necessarily compromising value systems. One of the reasons CCG has stayed on top of Nigeria’s music game is because they have embraced innovation. Within the past five years alone, Nigeria’s music industry has undergone monumental changes both from a legal and business perspective. One of the biggest forces that has driven these remarkable changes has been the dawn of the digital age.

Even more specifically, new and social media have given ample power to artists who can directly market and promote their music to fans and the public without necessarily needing a big label like CCG (big by Nigerian standards) . CCG, however, has embraced new and social media and instead used it to stay highly relevant in the industry. Over the years, I have observed CCG establish a credible presence online. In the last year alone, they have up’ed the ante rejuvenating their standalone website and driving traffic both in and out of their social media platforms. The website is complete with a blog (new media) and social media integration (facebook, twitter etc.) In addition as CCG states in the video clip below, the site is equipped with analytic (tracking) system so they know their audience, where they come from, what they want and how to be responsive to their needs.

I know I have discussed the use of new and social media extensively. They are not the end all or be all. They do not replace the fundamentals you must have to manage your personal or corporate brand. But, in today’s day and age, especially as an artist and/or label owner, there is simply no justification for not getting with the program, like CCG, all at minimal costs to you.

Tactic #3  Strong PR &Marketing: If you cannot create awareness for your goods/services which should lead to conversions, you will not be an artist/music entrepreneur for very long. Both online and offline, CCG has been able to liaison with the right partners to keep its brand and artists buzzing on the tongues of many. Online, their successful PR & marketing efforts has been interesting to watch. Using new & social media as it primary methods of advertisement, CCG has been able to advertise to the masses in 2011 alone. We have also seen the company broker deals with numerous partners, all of which have contributed or will contribute to keep CCG on top of the music game. The companies include Spinlet (“ITunes of Africa” – Distribution deal), Iroko Music (monetizing CCG Artists’ video content on the web), Fusionme.TV (Ice Prince exclusive coverage), (web advertising), and HiBuzz.

Of particular note is that CCG also brands its executives and the company as a whole, independent of the artists it represents. We have seen Audu Maikori emerge a spokesperson for the brand. He built even more brand equity with his appearance on Nigerian Idol Season 1 as a judge, CCG has branded itself via entrepreneur competitions, speaking engagements on important panels, among many other branding activities. Many times, music business owners spend more time branding the talents, services or products they offer but do not focus on branding themselves. Don’t wait for others to tell your story. You know your story better than anyone else, tell it! If CCG did not put out their video to tell their story, guess what, I (a member of the press and a blogger) would not be discussing it. They just got free and credible unsolicited publicity just because they told their own story. The same can happen to you. Don’t be so promotional driven about your story but do tell your story.

Tactic #4 Identifying, Recruiting & Developing Good Talent: M.I, Brymo, Ice Prince, Jesse Jagz are signed to CCG’s subsidiary CCG Music. While we do not exactly know what kinds of relationship have been brokered between artists and label, especially for M.I Abaga who owns Loopy Records, it goes without saying that CCG has recruited and developed artists who have helped put its brand on the map. In fact, the public and media’s true recognition of the CCG name really came when M.I got on the CCG label. CCG recently announced its further foray into Kenya’s market to scout great talent in an effort to be a recognized African music brand across the continent.

Tactic #5 Corporate  Social Responsibility: They say “to whom much is given, much is expected.” Indeed. If you earn money from your community and as a result, you become successful, it is  incumbent upon you to give back and leave your community in a better shape than you found it. Anything less is unacceptable.  CCG has been focused on doing just that. The video clip below discusses some of these charity efforts including a Christmas holiday event benefiting organizations and persons in need.

As an artist or entrepreneur, what are some of your personal and/or corporate tactics you used in 2011 to stay relevant? No one really noticed you in 2011? If so, what are your plans to be or stay relevant in 2012?


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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

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  1. Cute Sagay says:

    Always a pleasure to read from you ma’am.

    I’ve taken notes & I’ll be back & 2012 will feel me!

    God bless now & always.

    1. Africamusiclaw says:

      @Cute Sagay



  2. Secrets of M.I Abaga & Audu Maikori’s Chocolate City Group: 5 Tactics That Keep Them on Top:

  3. Cokes says:

    Ma,its always sweet 2 read ur articles,u ve a gr8 wealth of knwledge n u impact a lot…wish doz establishd acts cud read ur article evryday n upcomin acts lyk me.ure an inspiration…bin on ds site 4 abt 1hr nw.wish i cud print wiv ma fone

  4. My names is ali and iw ill like to be a rapper like m i please my comment is very important to all who will like to know me more.

  5. Thanks ma’m on ur effort abat CCG a rapper artist and in need of CCG DEAL.please i need ur help.u can reach me on or 08067792270.thanks and God bless u…

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