Executive Producers have fizzled out— Nana Poku Ashis
Back in the days, the music industry was full of executive producers who funded the works of musicians and made life very comfortable for them.
Lately, these executive producers are no more in the system as they used to be and Artiste Manager Nana Poku Ashis opines they have fizzled out and there may be just a handful in the system now supporting musicians.
“We have independent labels now after the era of the Big Bens, the Agiecoats, the Despites, who were executive producers died. The artistes themselves have their independent labels so we had Kwaw Kesse’s Madtime, Richie’s Lynx Entertainment, Samini’s Highgrade Family etc. The artistes fund themselves in terms of recording, promotions and everything.”
“The musicians in Ghana shot themselves in the foot with the way they treated these financiers; we didn’t treat them well at all. We were always looking at money and complaining of CD rights.
‘“When the executive producers gave the musicians money from the CD rights, they did not use them for what they were supposed to but instead, they went ahead to buy expensive cars, houses and lived large.
“These same financiers had to find additional money to promote the works of the artistes and even when they needed the latter to come on board to promote their own brands, they wouldn’t even show up. So they got frustrated and folded up so we have ourselves to blame”.
In an interview to The Daily Graphic, Ashis disclosed there might however be very few executive producers currently in the system. “There may be a few people in the background supporting some artistes financially but there are no known ones as there used to be in the past.
“These days, when a musician does a song, he has to find a way of taking it to radio stations to be promoted. Also, these days, funds the musicians make from shows are invested back into the business in order to keep them going.
“Nevertheless, there are some artistes who are signed onto distribution platforms of record labels. For instance, Black Sherif is signed onto Empire, they distribute music globally so when any of their artistes has a show anywhere in the world, Blacko is billed to perform, that is why he has a lot going for him.
“Other ways Ghanaian artistes get by is to plan their own shows and tours and perform to only Ghanaian communities abroad. You see, the Ghanaian artistes are not well connected like their Nigerian counterparts who have gigs all over the world.
“When we had executive producers in Ghana, the Nigerians did not have that; they had Alaba Market where they bought and distributed their works. Like I stated earlier, we didn’t take good care of that system and that is why we no longer have them”, he added.
Ashis has managed artistes including Deeba, Ofori Amponsah, Tinny, Nacee, Kumi Guitar, Kwabena Kwabena, Yaw Sarpong among others. He also does consultation for artistes such as Sarkodie.
Secular and Gospel
Having worked with both secular and Gospel artistes, we asked Ashis the difference in managing the two. “With the secular artistes, everybody understands them so it is not too difficult dealing with them although one has to be very careful with some of them.”
“I call them the mini gods or the demi gods, you have to be very strategic in managing them. You as a manager will have to be very strong otherwise they will overpower you. You have to ensure decisions you take are very strong and will go a long way to help the artiste.”
“With the Gospel artistes, you would have to be very careful because the advice you give should be at par with his or her calling or ministry. What I did with Yaw Sarpong was to try and draw the secular artistes close to him to do possible collaborations so that is what I did with Sarkodie and it worked perfectly.
“Now everyone should watch out for a collaboration between Yaw Sarpong and Kofi Kinaata. And another between the gospel act and Samini. I tried to do that blend, to get the best of both worlds.
“ Now Yaw Sarpong is not very well so it is part of management’s plans to galvanise support for him by putting these collaborations together and release them on the Internet so loved ones will download them for us to raise funds for him”, he explained.
Touching on the best way to create rapport between an artiste and a manager, Ashis had this to say: “First of all, the manager needs to have a business sense and direction to take the right decisions for his artiste. He should be able to advise accordingly and bring on board the right ideas to move his artiste forward to succeed.”
‘’It shouldn’t just be about getting shows for the artiste but the manager should be able to have a positive influence on the artiste and make him or her a good brand. So that if in future you are no longer managing the artiste we should know what you also brought on board and what you left behind, most importantly, the manager and his artiste should be very good friends”, he said.
Talking about who he has enjoyed working most with, Ashis mentioned Yaw Sarpong. “He is my father, there are so many things I rather learnt from him, he became my friend so we created a very good rapport. Kwabena Kwabena is also a friend who I have known since childhood and we are great together. These two are the ones I have enjoyed working with the most”, he added.
Ashis is an old boy of Achimota Primary School, Accra Academy, Ghana Secondary School, Ghanatta Arts College, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology(KNUST) and the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI).
“Music has been the central part of my life after school, no matter what I do, it is my first love. I started music around 1995 with Obrafour. We were in the same group, Abrempong, till Obrafour got his big break with his first album.
“I also worked in Nigeria with big artistes like Rocket Man and 2Face. I was there for about a year and came back to Ghana to work with Tinny, Ofori Amponsah etc. and here we are today”, he concluded.