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As a producer, I earn more than an average bank, say Tee Y Mixer

By Lolade Sowoolu
He is not one of those celebs who shy away from their financial details. Temitayo Ibitoye tells us in plain terms how song production in Nigeria can be very profitable, especially when the packaging is right.

As one of the judges on the MTN Project Fame singing talent hunt, for the second year running, Tee-Y Mix easily ranks as one of the best song producers in Nigeria, what with his huge following. Based in Abuja, Tee-Y asserts that more artistes live off singles than their albums and also that a song has to be strong enough and good enough to win the hearts of people. He looks at Lagos with his entertainment eyes. Read on.

What puts you in the bestform for a recording. What  hinders your creativity?

Tee Y Mix
Tee Y Mix

Personally, once I have a good talking relationship and proper understanding with an artiste, I really don’t have problems or face challenges when working with them. Otherwise, sometimes, artistes can be rigid to changes.

As a producer, I will not change the general concept of your song or the emotions it’s supposed to evoke. However, from experience, there are certain pieces of advice that I can give you that will probably fly more than what you have in mind.

And to some artistes, when you give them these ideas, they kick against them directly or indirectly.

How much of an artiste’s popularity rubs on the producer?

A lot. Especially, when the song is a hit or is loved very much by people. You might not get returns in terms of commercial benefits or monetary terms but you’ll get recognition.

If you produce a song and the song wins awards, they’ll always remember the producer. Even though there are some artistes who are in the habit of not giving credit to their producers- which is really bad. Overall, I think it’s just more of credit that a producer gets as returns.

Traditionally, what an artiste owes the song producer is studio session and production fee but then it depends again on the arrangement they both have. Also important is how much involvement the producer has in the project. Is he going beyond just producing into management?

If so, then he’ll have higher stakes but generally I think producers have not started earning what they are supposed to get in the industry.

We’re hoping that things will get better such that producers can get some percentage of royalty of songs on air play. Until we get a proper structure that can handle royalty system, radio stations won’t be paying us for using our works as fillers.

How profitable is song production in Nigeria?

To be honest with you, if you are successful in what you do, naturally, other things will follow. There are people who live on things that you’d ordinarily think there is no money in but once you’re successful, you’ll get the dividends or returns.

Again, there’s the packaging factor. Personally, I didn’t start doing music production because of the money or because I thought I could live off it. In comparing what music production yields in Nigeria to that of the Western world, we’re not there yet. You can raise a family on song production. I’m a producer. I earn more than most average bankers.

The point is that for you to get to that level, you have to be successful. Besides, the industry is getting better.

What do you mean by being successful?

For me, I think it’s just about being relevant and people appreciating what you do, when people are able to count you among the best.

When is song  a hit and what does it take to produce one?

In my own opinion, a song is classified a hit when it is known; when it’s accepted by the people. When you hear the song everywhere.

So it’s not about how long a song is popular?

No song remains a hit forever. In Nigerian context, a hit song is a song that people know and like. However, I think every song has its own life span. Some songs stay longer than others on the chart and I don’t know what determines how long a song lasts, especially in this market.

Because you may listen to a D’banj song that you like so much but then after a while, you don’t want to hear it again. Same goes for other songs. So, it’s difficult to tell the determinant. But hit songs in the Nigerian context have to do with popularity.

Many times, popularity of a song is measured by Lagos acceptance. Is that right?

You have to consider that Lagos is the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria. As far as entertainment is concerned in Nigeria, Lagos is the hub. In terms of entertainment activity, Lagos is top.

How many states in Nigeria organise events as much as Lagos? How many states club as much as Lagosians? The Lagos crowd is key, along its market. Most of the elements that turn creativity into physical cash are in Lagos: marketers, distributors, record companies, management.

Good air play does not necessarily make a song a hit. Sales could be a factor but you know the way it is in Nigeria. People live more on singles than albums. You can have a single that is doing very well but your album might not command good units in terms of sales.

So, the album of a hit song may not necessarily sell as much as another album.

Do you consciously produce hits?

I don’t look for hits in my productions. Whether a song I produce takes time to become a hit or becomes a hit instantly, I want it to be good material. I’m not particular about hits.

What I’m particular about is recording good songs, regardless of the number of people that get to listen to it eventually.

Why do some good songs not become hits?

Because there are other factors involved. You might record a good song, yet you may not have enough money to push it.  It’s just like a product in the market. If you spend money on creating great awareness for that product, no matter how good it is, people want to know about it.

The reason some people buy commodity A more than commodity B is probably because they’ve heard about commodity A somewhere. Someone’s most likely used it before and recommended it.

There’s some form of hype on commodity A which has made the first set of people buy it who now in turn recommend it. Hype does not keep a product in the market.

Hype makes people want to listen to a song but the song has to be strong enough and good enough to win the hearts of people.


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