Music Business

What’s Love Got to Do With it? Tiwa Savage Tweets Appreciation to Manager Turned Fiancé Tee Bilz


Tiwa Savage Identity Crisis or PR Done Right 2In an industry where all we seem to hear, lately,  is one break up after another, it is highly refreshing to hear a different story, that of appreciation. Recently,  R &B singer Tiwa Savage took to twitter to thank her manager, Tee Bilz, for his investment in her career, right from the onset, specifically helping with her first introductory video, “Kelekele Love”  into Nigeria’s music market. The duo are now romantically involved and also own an entertainment company together.

Now for those who may not be familiar with the artist Tiwa Savage, she is a Nigerian-American singer/songwriter who was gaining some traction in the USA, as a song writer, including for some prominent names in the music industry, before venturing into Nigeria’s music industry.

Tee Bilz who is now her fiance, at the onset, believed in her ability to break into the Nigerian music market and to be successful. His belief was so strong, he put his money where his mouth was by investing his monies in her first music video, “Kelekele Love.” The Kelekele video was instrumental in selling her to Nigerians and helping her build a strong fan base. Savage has since won a couple of awards across Africa, and is currently the brand ambassador for Pepsi in Africa. She also has an upcoming role as a talk show host on a newly launched TV network, Ebony Life TV, owned by Mo Abudu aka  “Africa’s Oprah.” I won’t be surprised if she is also  nominated for the 2013 BET Awards in the Africa Category, that is if BET decides to be bothered with the category after all the controversy that has followed it since its inception.

I consider Savage’s tweets to be a nice acknowledgement of the hard and thankless work managers put into their artists. However, I am a bit leery of the romantic slant she brings to the table (at least that is how all other blogs and media have interpreted it) and thought to address it  only because of the challenges women already face in the industry, and my concern that male managers who manage female talents or vice versa, may confuse what exactly their roles are.

We are talking Nigeria’s music industry where women expect to be and are harassed as they try to take their rightful places in the music industry.

First, lest there be any confusion for female artists with male managers, there is simply nothing unique about what Tee Bilz did for Tiwa Savage. That is his JOB. He is expected to invest in his artist. He is expected to put in the time, sweat, finance (where it makes business sense to do so), encouragement, prayer (if that is what it takes for his artist) et al. to help his artist become successful. That is the role of a manager.  If he can’t do that, then he is not worth taking seriously.

That he ended up also having a romantic relationship with Savage does not make his investment in her career extraordinary, per se. Please understand this point ladies, especially.

There is the question whether female artists can have male managers without getting romantically attached. I don’t know. In Hollywood, we have a long list of female artist-male manager romantic relationships. I say, to each his own. However, also understand that the artist-manager relationship is a very intimate one i.e. almost like your best friend, family, lover, husband, wife etc., sometimes even closer than the aforementioned types of relationships.  Where it involves persons of the opposite sex, it is foreseeable such relationships can and do naturally progress into  romantic ones.

If you choose to get romantically involved with your male managers, that is your business and frankly, nobody’s, unless of course you put it out there. But, to have a successful relationship, as an artist, you will need to learn to keep the business separate from the sexing/loving/romancing of your manager in order to make the romantic relationship last.  If you do not believe me, come back and read this post 6, 12, and/or 36months later. Let me know what you think then.

Back to the role of your manager, in exchange for the investment both in financial capital and sweat equity that your manager is putting into you, your manager gets a certain percentage royalties in practically every revenue stream that you the artists generates, depending on how strong a negotiator he  is. Therefore, he has a vested interest, if no record label will sign you and he believes in you, to invest his own funds and promote the crap out of you. Why? Because if you don’t eat, he doesn’t. The manager’s investment in you makes no difference if you are male or female. The question is are you talented? Do you have traction? Does he see potential? Does he see a return on investment? It should also not be based on romantic feelings for you because if you are not loving him back, stuff will hit the fan.

So female artists ( I do not see the male artists doing this), please do not walk around putting your male managers that you become romantically involved with on a pedestal. Show appreciation and respect his hustle but let’s be clear he is doing his job, albeit a pretty good job.

Our Nigerian culture, as it is, encourages women to be completely dependent on men for everything. This spills into the music industry and women in showbiz have to deal with so much just to earn the basic respect of men and also show their independence. Had to be clear on this. Good look, nevertheless, that Savage shows appreciation to her manager. More artists should follow suit.

Twitter: @uduaklaw

Tiwa’s tweets below:

“Going thru some files, some thoughts heavy on my heart..this probably wont make news because people just wanna hear bad news and not d truth.”

“Blessed 2 have a beautiful man @TeeBillz323 in my life.Nobody was der wen u saved n paid 4 my 1st ever video kelekele”

“You invested so much in me and believed even when no one did. My backbone when everyone said we were wasting our time”

“pls excuse my typos, really wanna express myself or maybe I’ll just put it in a song”

“When the pressure gets too much, first thing you do is pray with me….. @TeeBillz323 you are my escape”

“You put in time, money, energy into a dream that had no guaranty, and here we are today by His grace.”

“You dont get the credit you deserve @TeeBillz323 but even though men dont know God knows.”


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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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