Olajide Siwoku, is the prime mover of Black Carpet Production, a media and Record Label outfit. Jide is thought to be the force managing and promoting artiste for over two decades.
Indeed, he has contributed immensely to the growth and development of the Nigerian Entertainment industry. In this interview with Isaac Oguntoye for Happenings.com.ng, this industry big boy spoke on his business, the challenges in the industry and his new artiste, Jayson.
For the benefit of those who are yet to know you, tell us little about you?
My name is Olajide Siwoku, I’m the Managing Director, Black Carpet Production. And a reason why most people don’t know me is because I like to be free, While being in the limelight is good, it is also better to be behind the scenes. Doing both has its advantages, for me I prefer to stay back and let my work speak for me.
What is Black Carpet all about?
Black Carpet is an outfit that comprises both Radio, Television and also a Record Label. Basically, what we do is putting creativity together. It is all about talent and gift and creativity from a general angle.
When you mention Black Carpet, the first thing that comes to your mind is event and all that.Why Black Carpet you would say?
What we mean to say is that, we are always loyal which is the reason we chose the name Black Carpet. You know black blends with every other colour. If you say Red, it could be selective but black blends. We want to mix with the industry and one way or the other we want to show the industry that we are relevant.
So, what is Black Carpet working on at the moment?
We have a project and we have our artiste, Jayson just dropped a song featuring Runtown and the song is titled, ‘Subscribe’. And we are believing God that everything would work as planned. It is a process, we will not take over the industry but we intend to be relevant.
What is the relationship and how did you come across Jayson?
A friend of mine brought Jayson who happens to be a nephew of his, after listening to his voice, I was impressed. Vocally Jayson is talented. He is a young boy and I think it is his time. He is just 19 years old and we want to see what he can achieve and we believe he is a fresh talent with so much energy.
Is Jayson the only artiste on the Black Carpet Label?
Yes, we are taking it one step at a time. We want to make sure, we set a standard with Jayson. It is not advisable to push so many artistes at once. It is a gradual process.
What measures have you put in place to make sure the company overcomes the challenges the industry is saddled with?
You know the Bible says if you want to build a house you weigh the cost. We have weighed the cost and like I said, we are not for today, we are for tomorrow. The thing is, it is a process. A lot of people are looking to be A-list artistes while the B-list artistes own the market. Indeed we are just taking our time. Two telecommunications companies came into Nigeria took their time to be who and where they are today. That is our aim, to take our time and achieve great things. We are not saying we are here to take over, No! I have never seen anybody who will take over the industry. We just want to be relevant. It is a process for us, trust us, we are not one-of. Our foundation is in God.
What will you say are the unique things with Jayson?
Jayson is one artiste I know is gifted. There is a big difference between talent and gift. Jayson is gifted. He has both gift and talent and he is heavy inside. He is someone who is born into it. He loves music and music is his dream and we are here to bring that colour to the world and let the world see his talent.
What does it mean to be an artiste manager or record label?
To be sincere with you, we don’t have record labels in Nigeria. Record labels are on another level, by American standards. We just have promoters. What most people do is promote talent and create tours for them. You may not have dropped a single, but you are provided with everything you need. For me I just spot talent, if I see you are really gifted, I become interested in you. It goes way beyond finances, it is the gift you have inside of you. Even the Bible says the gift of man maketh way for him. When you have gift, we run after you. Some people run after money but the point is, once you have the money and no gift, nothing really happens.
What is the duration of your contract with Jayson?
For Jayson, we signed a contract for a reasonable number of years. Hence we are looking forward to originality. We are also looking to groom fresh people in the industry who want to come out and not have to struggle. We are looking for real and raw talent bring out.
In the next two years, where do you see Black Carpet and Jayson… Where do we see the vision?
Honestly, if you say where do we see Jayson, it would come off as limited. Where we see our vision, is making that mark; making a statement. We see us being relevant. The industry is choked up, but we just want to be relevant and make that impact. That’s all.
There is no business without its own challenge, can you share some of yours?
Indeed there are challenges, first of all are the artistes going into the studio to create something. I consider that one of the greatest challenge because that part you can’t see. I can sing in the bathroom and come to you but the greatest challenge is me going into the studio and making a whole lot of sense with music. It has been a long journey, we are just growing and I believe it is also a process. But the important thing is being focused, not on challenges, because focusing on challenges, won’t get you where you need to be.
It is like going to the Island and you meet traffic on third mainland, does that mean you quit? We have experienced certain things but we thank God that in all of this, it makes us stronger because we have been in the industry for a long time. I have stood by industry topnotch and also raised some artistes who are famous today.
Looking at the Nigerian entertainment industry, what do you think needs to be done differently, what do we need to change?
Because we are all growing in every aspect. Not just in the music. Every aspect of the industry is growing and civilisation is taking its place. Look at the movies we have now, they trend more in the cinemas. We are all growing. What I think we must do, is we must not stop, but must keep going, because we have not done badly.
Who do you think can handle the artistes management, one with experience or one with cash?
You see they are both necessary, because you might have the experience but where will the funding coming from. Many people use experience to get funding. For instance, a student who is academically sound needs somebody to buy him or her lunch, that is how the practice is. It happens in every other fields in the industry, where there are plenty of Investors. What is important is that one must be focused and upgrade oneself. You must place yourself in the right situation to attract the right kinds of people because even investors with cash only invest in talent. Thus if you ask me, I will say you need both to succeed. The head also needs the pocket; if I have the head and the experience, without finance, it is pointless. You know how it is in the industry today, without the pocket, the head will make no sense. At the end we all need each other.
What measure have you put in place to fight piracy?
There are somethings one cannot stop. Once you begin to impact people, then you are able to pass your message, without stopping what has been there before. I know so many artistes who started with R&B but today, they don’t do serious R&B anymore, rather they are invested in a different genre of music, because that is what the market wants. When you get into the market if you get to a certain level, you can decide to defer, because at first you are bound to do what the market wants in order to succeed. However when you have gained the market, if the market style doesn’t appeal to you, it is possible to go back to your own style.
With regards piracy, we are praying to survive . We can’t stop them but we hope it works in our favour. What the pirates are doing is a disadvantage to us but we hope we survive it.
Some artistes will come today and expect to be famous tomorrow, how do you handle them?
Everything is a process, many are called but only a few are chosen. Most people come to me today, saying it is their desire to be famous overnight. I let them know that it is gift.
I also let them know the industry is like a river, while some artistes do it once and get it right, other may not be lucky. All I just say is be wise in what you pick and the decisions you make. Ask for the spirit of direction and discernment. Most times, we go for just the face and then the person is empty. Sometimes, we go for the voice and the person may not have the drive to succeed in him. But when you have that spirit of discernment it will help you choose the right person with the right talent, because as a manager, you must connect and also enhance yourself. Therefore you need that discerning spirit, to tell if we are working with the right kind of person and if you and the artiste connect. Also as a manager, you must enhance yourself. At the end of the day, we need each other.
What are the aims and objectives of black carpet?
Like I said we are just here to make an impact; I will repeat my words again. We are not here to take over the industry. It is just to make an impact. At this point our aims and objectives is just to make good music and be a blessing. Our aim is to make sense, our objective is to be a blessing.
Any corporate organisation you are working with?
At the moment,Jayson is Winners Golden Bet Ambassador. Thus Winners Golden Bet is one the corporate organization we are working with for now.
What is your advice for upcoming artiste who want to be like Jayson?
Just believe, trust and don’t be in a hurry. Also be ready to listen.