ByÂ Dotun Ibiwoye
Mr. Jerome Frank is the Managing Director of Swaga Records, a recoding company operating both in Nigeria and Malaysia.Â He says his company is on the move again to establish the First Malaysian Restaurant and an Entertainment outfit in the country.
What motivated you to invest in Malaysia?
I migrated to Malaysia at the beginning of the new millennium and traveled to several countries in Asia to invest, searching for viable prospects, and finally settled in Malaysia.
Malaysia wasÂ not as developed as other counties in the region like China, Singapore andÂ South Korea when I was there, but it has a unique potential that enable young entrepreneurs exhibit all their potentials.Â The country gives room for possibilities.
While living in Malaysia, I discovered that people love listening to Nigerian music. This implies that any club that I go, I will hear Nigerian music. This was amazing and it opened my eyes into the investment opportunities of Nigerian music.Â I established a nite club, called the Titanium club, it took me a long time to open the nite club there because my wife is a Muslim and I am a Christian.. I had a lot of disturbances when I opened this club, like the police and security operative which is an issue in any major city in the world.
I spent a lot to make sure it is safe for everyone. Now there are no police coming around to disturb and I feel happy to have something like that. Also the former Nigerian Ambassador to Malaysia, His Excellency Peter J.E. Anegbeh was there at my nite club and congratulated me thatÂ a Nigerian like me was making the nation proud by opening a club, and not a restaurant in Malaysia. Because many Nigerians have restaurants in Malaysia.
Do you have plans to establish in, Nigeria?
Yes. I have come to Nigeria to establish a recording company called Swaga Records. With my experience in so many countries in Asia and other parts of the world, I found out that Nigerians are veryÂ talented people. Talented people are accepted everywhere. That acceptance changed my perception from the music to the business angle of Nigerian music. I know that many producing companies that recordÂ many artistes are based on preference.
I also learntÂ that it is not easy for some Nigerians to identify their talents when I came home. Before someone realizes how to utilize his talents, he/she is either handicapped by finances which is the major factor in establishing your potentials.Â I established Swaga records to produce, discover and manage talented Nigerians. My company is in Lagos and it is both registered in Nigeria and Malaysia.
I have come here to promote young talents in Nigeria and not just a particular group of people but all the gifted musicians who have not been considered due to circumstances of the economy and the criteria for signing an artist is that he must be a Nigerian.
Signing talented Nigerians that do not have opportunities does not mean that I am going to invest into something that is not commercially viable. The artist I am bringing in must be exceptional. In Nigeria you donâ€™t need to scout for artists, if you are a good producer, artists will look out for you. The situation of the NigeriaÂ economy does not give room to those who do not have connections.Â That is why I decided to come home to invest in these talents.
That is why I decided that I will come back to Nigeria and register my company and I make sure that this company is opened for all- even those who do not have the capital to finance their demo.
Just come to us and show us what you have. If it is 100 percent ok that qualifies for that what we are looking for. Nigerians are the most hard working people in the world and they all want to become someone important – this is a unique trait. I believe a youngÂ Nigerian like me who has brought finances from outside to invest in Nigeria and also helping the youths identify and elevate hidden talents will be encouraged.
How has the business grown, and how many Nigerians are on your payroll?
Swaga Records is new. We have sixty five people on ourÂ payroll. so we are still expanding. Several departments will also be created in different states of the federation. There is also an in-house training of our employees outside Nigerian so that they will be more professional on the job.
We are planing to sponsor some of our staffsÂ to any level that they wish to accomplish.
This package will enable less privileged staff to achieve their desired dreams.
By registering the name Swaga Records, many people ask me why Swaga? And I reply to them, why not swaga. Swaga sounds like is a style and a music.Â More appreciable, sinceÂ I came down to Nigeria and have been producing a group known as the Final Four and Da More. ThereÂ are also some others coming up. These groupsÂ has been performing in several places like Abuja , Port Harcourt and Lagos.
It is not that it is a very solid company with excess funds, but we act as a passage that enables any talented individual or group to go directly to theÂ managementÂ and get a contract. You do not need any connection before you are signed on by Swaga Records. I believe that you need connection to achieve most things in Nigeria. In our company you donâ€™t need to know anybody.
When we invited Tuface, Timaya, Terry G and Duncan Mighty, to Malaysia, we treated them wonderfully well because we love them and we brought many fans to come and support them, we gave them 100 percent security to protect them because I love my people and that is why I am down here to make something happen.
What is your new investment focus now?
I also discovered while I was in Malaysia, that Nigerians can cook very well. We are naturally gifted in cooking. In my own research, here in Nigeria, I found out that there is nothing like a Malaysian restaurant. I have looked around and I found Lebanese, Chinese, India, Italian and other restaurants.Â If I am going to bring down Malaysian restaurants here in Nigeria it will be a very good investment.
My plans to bring down myÂ club,Â Titanium club, here in Nigeria is going to be a club that operates with all nations of the world. Unlike the normal nite clubs in Nigeria, it is going to be aÂ mixed nations club, where you have a feeling of being abroad while you are in Nigeria. So all the show I will be doing there is going to be for different nations and not only for Nigerians.
The greatestÂ challenges that a music producers faces is piracy and air time play.
My advice to Nigerian youths is to let them never give up and they should go ahead and continue to persevere. If you know how to write go ahead and elevate your writing skills. Whatever is happening to Nigerian youths now, there will always be a way.