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Frustrations of making music in Nigeria- Pheelz ‘Mr. Producer’

BY ROTIMI AGBANA

Philip Kayode Moses, popularly known as ‘Pheelz Mr. Producer’, is a young and multi-talented Nigerian audio engineer and music producer, who has since his debut with YBNL, been etching his name on the marble stones of the Nigerian entertainment industry. Credited to his name are a number of hit songs churned out from Olamide’s YBN record label. Showtime celebrity recently caught up with the bundle of talents who has twice been nominated for the prestigious Headies awards. In this exclusive interview, he takes on his career, the Nigerian music industry, love life and relationship.

How lucrative has music production been for you?

It has been really lucrative, more than I actually expected. When you are doing something for the passion, the money doesn’t come to mind. So, when the money started coming in it was really a surprise for me that such amount of money could be made out of something I do out of sheer passion. Music production is something I’m passionate about and love doing, so it has really been lucrative for me, because I’ve smiled to the bank a couple of times (laughs).

Considering the number of young and talented music producers in the music industry, how have you managed to stay relevant?

I think consistency plays a major role when you talk about staying relevant in a music industry that has a lot of good producers, because nobody is too talented, you are just more consistent than the other person. So, consistency is the major key, you just have to keep giving it to them back to back, because if you rest on your oars, one guy from nowhere will just come and blow everything away. You have to keep your game tight, which is how I have managed to stay relevant in the industry.

What are the major challenges of being a music producer?

One of the major challenges is the lack of structure in the industry; there is no parameter to monitor the progress of your songs and there is no structure on how to monetize the music industry. So, it is a major challenge which I know will be solved very soon.

A lot of people don’t understand how music producers make their money, so, do you mind telling us how you make your money as a music producer?

It varies from producer to producer, but personally the way I operate is this, if you come to me for a production job, you have to pay a production fee, then we’ll agree on a  sharing formula from digital revenues, which varies from Itunes, MTN music plus, etc. We’ll have an agreement on how we’ll split the proceeds.

•Pheelz

In recent times, music producers and DJs feel the urge to sing and release singles like artistes; what do you think is responsible for this? 

For me, whether you are a DJ, a music producer or an artiste, I believe we are all putting out music. So, as long as I’m making music; whether I’m singing or I’m producing it doesn’t matter. I do the harmonising for most of the songs I produce but most people don’t know, I’ve been on that level from day one. So whether I’m singing, disk jockeying or producing, so long as I’m putting out music then I’m fine with it, that’s why I’m called a ‘music producer’. I don’t think there is a problem with a producer singing; he is still making music either way.

Recently, you disclosed that you are working on something new that will change the face of the Nigerian music industry, what exactly did you mean?

Yes, it’s a platform that pays both the artiste and the fans for getting involved in the music business. Basically, the artiste puts a song on the platform while the fans get the song from there for a price but get paid for downloading that particular song from the platform. It’s actually a complex math but really very simple to understand, because it is actually a platform that brings the artistes and the fans to do business together and  share rewards.

How do you intend to outwit existing competitors with this new innovation?

The major aim of this project I’m working on is to reduce or totally eradicate online piracy, and we want to do that through two basic mottoes. First, by empowering music lovers through the reward they get when they download songs from the platform. Second, by empowering music lovers to add value to the music industry. So basically, I don’t think outwitting existing competitors would even be a problem because we are bringing to the table what they haven’t been able to bring.

What gives you the assurance that this innovation of yours will curb piracy?

Because we pay people to be the voice of change, it’s that simple. If I’m paying you to join a cause, you nor go do am? (Laughs) So it’s that simple, the bodies that have been trying to chase away piracy never gave any form of benefit for asking people to join the cause, but with this new project I’m working on, will give maximum benefits to the two parties. If you dig deeper into it, you’ll discover that you can actually make a lot of money from the system as a fan, not even as an artiste.

I’ve discovered that every successful business thrives on two things, build a system that meets a need and then build a community around that system; it is that simple. The likes of Facebook, Uber, Linda Ikeji and even churches all fall into this category. I also discovered that not everybody has the power, risk capacity or financial power to build a system, but everybody belongs to a community one way or the other, so we created a system everybody can use, all you need do is to bring your community into it and you’ll make money, that’s how the fans make money.

Do you think music is lucrative?

Without endorsements, live performances and sales of album CDs, music is not lucrative at all. Now, the product is the MP3 file, imagine an artiste spends N500,000 for a top-notch producer to produce his songs, N100,000 for mixing and mastering, N100,000 for graphics and editing, another N200,000 for the online promotions on popular music websites, and then spends an extra N300,000 on radio promotions, all these amounts to like N1.2million, and then you give out the end product for free? How is that lucrative? Right now, the industry is a game of chance or luck, like when you say “ah! By God’s grace one day I will blow” and mind you, that one product does not guarantee that you will blow. Some artistes will even have to release 7 or 8 singles before they smell a stage to perform for the first time ever. And even when they finally start performing on stage, they have to do a couple of free shows before they get to the level that they will start getting ½ or ¼ of their performance fee or the money they have spent on their songs back, so I ask you again, how is that lucrative?

Do you see yourself going into full time music anytime soon?

Yes, I do, in a couple of years and I won’t leave music production. I will keep producing music for as many years as possible and as long as I live, but I see myself going into full time music soon.

Don’t you feel threatened by the number of young and skilled music producers in Nigeria?

No, I’m not scared, neither do I feel threatened. It’s a business of passion; as long as my passion is still there, I’ll still keep putting in the work. Yeah, there’ll be a time when face might not be as regular or as popular as before, but Pheelz will still be Pheelz, the passion for music production will still be there.

Since you are YBNL’s official hit-maker, why do other producers produce songs for YBNL artistes?

It got to a point where I realized that the workload was becoming too much for me to handle, so I brought in Young John. I told him to come in so that he could help reduce the workload. I also brought in B-Banks as well; I wanted to share the workload with them so we could be more efficient on the job.

 


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