Ngozi Omambala is the Managing Director of NMO Management, an entertainment industry and also the founder of ‘Loud N Proud Live Series’, multi-artist live music platform for established and upcoming musicians.
Speaking in a recent interview with Vera Anyagafu, Omambala who is a chartered accountant from the Leeds Metropolitan University United Kingdom talked about the part she played in addressing the under representation of female creatives in the Nigerian/African entertainment. She also emphasized the need for Nigerian artists to be protected like their counterparts in advanced world. Excerpts.
As a chartered accountant, what is your interest in the entertainment world?
I qualified as a chartered Accountant in the UK where l was born. I also had a background in entertainment because my father who was a chartered accountant in the UK was also a promoter of African music in Europe. So, l worked on the both side by side.
A long the line, fate took me to entertainment route, so I spent early part of my career working at London’s most popular urban radio station Kiss FM (UK) overseeing branded concerts, Shows and radio programmes as producer of various music shows. I also worked as an Entertainment Editor for women of colour lifestyle publications: Pride Magazine UK, Europe.
When l was abroad, l saw a lot of women contributing in the entertainment industry.
Upon my return to Nigeria there was none, l could see that there was something wrong and l know that surely, there must be talented women who are creative, so l took on the mantle to bring female on the platform, giving them the opportunity to show case their talents. It is like social responsibility from my own perspective.
So, it was the desire to bring women on board in the entertainment world that gave birth to ‘Loud N Proud Live’, it was first established in the UK, so l introduced it here in Nigeria.
It is dedicated to younger generation, giving them opportunity to network and showcase their talents so that people can see and patronise them. That is my own philosophy, helping people and giving them that opportunity to explore.
The first maiden edition of ‘Loud N Proud Live’ was held in 2011 with Tiwa Savage, Nneka and Omawumi performed live as headline acts.
The series has since evolved to accommodate both male and female musicians.
Looking at the UK entertainment industry where you started your career, how would you compare it with the industry in Nigeria? What lesson can Nigeria learn from that?
There is a sharp contrast. Yes, because the entertainment industry in the UK is different. When l came to Nigeria, there was no solid infrastructure towards entertainment. In the UK, there was a solid and well-structured system. It was lately in Nigeria that such infrastructure started coming up.
Nigerian music is blowing up globally, there are global super stars from Nigeria, breaking records. Nigerian artists are now more popular in countries outside the continent and it is a great thing. It is fantastic, our music has been really celebrated and embraced by those who have not been in to the continent of Africa.
So, there is a huge different between the entertainment industry in UK, America and Africa- Nigeria.
We have a long way to go in Nigeria because, when you are talented, your skill is your creativity, it is your product and it should be valued.
There should be value attached to person who is listening to your music.
As the case maybe, as an artist you have to be paid when you release any music written by you or you get a royalty, we do not have that structure in Nigeria, so it is opened to a lot of exploitation.
It is a huge business industry in Africa, but there are very few who are actually benefiting.
The pandemic really affected some of the artists, a lot of them are facing challenges this had time because that is their only source of income.
They should be looking at other source of income and that is the reason they need protection. Artists in the music industry abroad are well protected, they are paid and that is why they will not necessarily feel any pinch in situation like the pandemic.
There is a lot of interest from foreign entertainment entities that are now coming in to our territory, trying to develop the industry, as we embrace the growth, we have to be careful on the other hand.
There has to be future in this industry. There is different perspective to entertainment, it is not seen as a serious profession like, law, medicine, accountancy among others by the older generation. But everybody needs entertainment. Those who work need relaxation after their days job.
There is always going to be a place in the leisure industry, it will never go away, even if it goes online.
Entertainment industry is said to be the worst hit by the pandemic. How were you able to navigate through the situation? What lesson can those in the industry learn from the covid-19?
Covid-19 brought all the entertainment platforms to complete stand still. During the lock down and curfew, people were not going anywhere, life went from 100 to zero overnight.
But there is a way this world works, it is only change that is constant. So, we adapted to the situation. I and my team were innovative and proactive, we choose to move forward instead of standing still. I do not know if it is part of Nigeria psyche, but definitely l implore my team members to think, look at their surrounding and grow and adapt with it, because this way does not work, does not mean that the other way cannot work, so there is always another way around it, that is life.
So, what we did when all our platforms went down because of the lock down was to transfer everything online. Going online opened doors for us, because we had global audience, and the numbers skyrocketed, so we were not afraid of change, we embraced it and we were very passionate about what we do, we are still navigating with the wind of change.
I am not saying that we are 100 percent there. We are still doing our monthly shows on line and we are getting bigger, that was what we did with our music fashion runway, we have been organising the event, for the past six years. With the pandemic, we had to adapt, we had it both physical and virtual, the physical was with the Lagos state protocol on covid-19.
What is the idea behind combining music with fashion?
I was always in contact with those in the fashion business, and when you go to fashion show, it goes with music concert, so it is ideal. In fact, the two are interwoven, so for me, it was second nature. The models cannot model without music and that is what makes fashion run way fantastic. We incorporate models and designers from other African countries and that is why we tagged it Pan African Music Fashion Run way. We want to think about uniting the continent.
Investigation shows that the music of today’s artists is negatively influencing the life of the young ones in the society. What is your take on that?
The older generation musicians are wiser and more experienced in life more than the new generation musicians, the lyrics of the older generation are based on real life development. What the young musicians know is about dating and having fun, drinking, going out, being young among others. These also reflect in their writing, but as they develop in mind, get married and have children, they, will change and become more mature in their thinking.
My advice to the young musicians is for them to look up to the older ones that have made mark in their career.
Vanguard News Nigeria