By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
THIS piece is not an affront to any Ghanaian act or any other act from Africa, established or fledgling.
It is an eye-opener on how the music business should be handled and I have no qualms using Mr. Eazi as the blueprint for that insight.
The exploits of this gentleman are interesting, empowering and inspiring!
Music is serious business and Mr. Eazi epitomizes how that model should be run and for a lad from Africa, where there’s such laxity in the systems and structures, he deserves plaudits for his ability to instigate a profound shift in the paradigm.
Within six years, since he had his breakthrough, he has cemented his place in the annals of African music history like no other – and interestingly, he is just getting started, giving hope that in the next decade, he will arguably assume the role of the most influential African artiste.
Mr. Eazi’s music career has not been a long one but his imprint on the industry is shaping up to be one of most significant.
The 2014 remake of ‘Bankulize’ by UK-based Ghanaian producer, Juls, off the Mixtape, About to Blow got him that breakthrough hit in Ghana, and the 2015 Efya-assisted track, Skintight gave him the international exposure. He’s been soaring since then!
From 2013 to 2018, he’s produced a deluge of hit songs from 3 Mixtapes; About to Blow, Life is Eazi, Vol. 1 – Accra to Lagos and Life is Eazi, Vol. 2 – Lagos to London.
He’s had a plethora of international collaborations, toured several cities across the globe and mounted some of the biggest music platforms in the world including the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in the USA.
His business savvy didn’t take off recently; it actual commenced while he was a student at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology (KNUST), when he set up his own promotion company, through which he organized parties and booked artistes for performances.
He is also said to have opened his own e-commerce platform and his business ventures also included soft drinks import, gold mining, and food distribution. Clearly, it is evident where his shrewdness in music somehow comes from.
Such astuteness in business is what has seen him establish his own label, Banku Music – while getting the well-needed international link by signing up with the American label, Mad Decent, as well as Universal Music Group (UMG), an American global music corporation that is a subsidiary of the French media conglomerate Vivendi, considered one of the “Big Three” music companies, along with Sony Music and Warner Music Group.
It is this sharp business knowledge that has also seen him set up a system he calls emPawa, a platform that offers different artistes across Africa the core elements that make a music career; label services, marketing, distribution, publishing, touring and management.
His clientele includes the likes of Joey B, King Promise, DJ Neptune and E-Kelly among others.
Lack of proper venues has been a bane for the arts industry in Ghana and event organizers over the years have grappled with the challenge of getting spaces that accommodate big numbers especially for music concerts.
Interestingly, while Ghanaian artistes have come to understand the essence of producing their own shows, they have also fallen into that quagmire of venue-related problems.
Mr. Eazi obviously thinks differently from the bunch; that discernment pricked him to change the status quo – a characteristic that saw him link up with some partner (s) to acquire land on the Spintex Road in Accra to build a venue that hosted the 3rd edition of his annual Detty Rave music concert.
There is no doubt that his property, known as Untamed, will be booked by Ghanaian acts, other international acts and event organizers in this country.
His vision for self, business and the liberation of African artistes enabled him to birth another laudable initiative, emPawa Foundation.
This is Africa’s first music incubator programme, enabling artistes from all over Africa to have their music heard and equip them with the support they need to achieve success.
Thus far, the programme has reached 11 African countries, funded over 100 artistes with close to 100 music videos being produced for these acts.
In a recent interview, Mr. Eazi admitted to looking up to international superstars, Diddy and Jay-Z. It all makes sense now, especially where he gets his drive from.
Diddy and Jay-Z are two of the most accomplished musicians/businessmen in the world and by the end of 2019, the two were worth $750million and $1billion respectively.
Diddy started with music but parlayed that success into other business ventures, such as owning a stake in the TV network Revolt and founding clothing line, Sean John.
He also has a lucrative deal with Diageo’s Ciroc and a partnership with DeLeon tequila while co-owning water brand AQUAhydrate with Mark Wahlberg.
Like Diddy, music is far from his only money-making venture as Jay–Z has over the years, also transformed his success in the Hip-Hop world into a fortune earned as an entrepreneur. His ventures include entertainment labels, a clothing line, upscale alcohol brands, and the music-streaming service, Tidal.
According to Mr. Eazi, he studies, does research and tries as much as possible to follow the shrewd business models of his mentors – and it’s only humility that would allow any person to realize his/her ignorance and be ready to dedicate time and resource to learn.
Future is bright
At the pace he is going, Mr. Eazi is evidently the truth and in the near future, his business would blossom in bigger proportions.
With the requisite support and partnerships, his conglomerate would surely be as big as those of Diddy and Jay-Z – and he would be the blueprint of how music can be parlayed into successful enterprises in Africa.
Mr. Eazi, regardless of his short stint in the trade is already showing the way, and Ghanaian artistes, both mainstream and up and coming, can drop their egos, be humble and learn.