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‘Nigeria’s creative industry is grossly underrated’

By Chuks Nwanne
27 August 2016   |   2:51 am
Of course, my father was very successful in the legal profession, but I wanted to pursue a different career. I come from a very large family; we have lawyers in the family too.
Hamza Kutigi

Hamza Kutigi

With a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MSC in Energy Finance from the Centre for Energy, Petroleum, Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP) of the University of Dundee, Scotland, Hamza Idris Kutigi is a force to reckon with when it comes to finance. Aside having extensive financial and risk management experience accumulated in over 15years of service in the Financial Services, Manufacturing and Oil & Gas sectors of Nigeria and the United Kingdom, he was once Head, Group Credit and Market Portfolio Management at Zenith Bank Plc. An Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM) UK, and Risk Managers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN), he offers pro bono assistance – in an advisory capacity – to small firms with tight budgets. Earlier this year, Hamza teamed up with like minds to set up Temple Management Company Limited (TMC), a full-service creative talent and event management company incorporated in Nigeria and operating in the Entertainment, Sports, Media and Art sectors. In this interview with CHUKS NWANNE, he spoke on the viability of the Nigerian creative industry and the mission of Temple to continually improve on African content, as well as bridge the gap between talents and their foreign counterparts.

As son of former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, one would have expected you to be in the legal profession, how come you are into finance?
Of course, my father was very successful in the legal profession, but I wanted to pursue a different career. I come from a very large family; we have lawyers in the family too. But I just thought that we all couldn’t be lawyers; my father allowed us to pursue our dreams. If all of us become lawyers, who takes care of the finances? So, I decided to study accounting and later got an MSC in Energy Finance from the Centre for Energy, Petroleum, Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP) of the University of Dundee, Scotland.

What’s’ the idea behind Temple Management Company?
Using a 360 approach to management, the company oversees the day-to-day business/affairs of creative talents and ensures that they maintain sustainable competitive advantage over the rest. TMC prides itself in its ability to operate on a global scale. The company’s mission is to continually improve on African content, bridge the gap between talents and their foreign counterparts, and guarantee that processes are in line with international best practices. The company, which officially began operations in March 2016, has inked management deals with top Nigerian talents including record label Don Jazzy’s Mavin Records, Iyanya, renowned disc jockey DJ Jimmy Jatt, broadcaster, Funmi Iyanda, award-winning visual artist and writer Victor Ehikhamenor, media personality Bunmi Davies and artist/jeweller Mode Aderinokun. We have a couple of others we intend to unveil later, though some people prefer a confidential relationship.

As a management company, what exactly do you offer artistes?
Most of the so-called managers out there are always looking at, ‘oh, there’s a show there, you come and perform…’ but that’s not what we are looking at. Temple is thinking about, what other ways can we take you from point A, not to point B, but point C? For instance, as a popular female artiste, why can’t you have a doll, like a Tiwa Savage doll? Do you even have website where you can relate with fans and sell your merchandise? Most of them go to YouTube, but why can’t you stream your video on your own website? What of royalties from radio stations and TVs? The biggest earner for most artistes in Nigeria today is endorsement and shows; that’s like scratching the surface. The truth is that we haven’t really tapped into the opportunities in this industry. What about corporates? There are so many things that corporate organisations can do for the creative industry and that’s why we are covering sports, arts and entertainment.

Do you have your own procedures of taking on artistes?
Of course, we have a well thought out procedure aimed at improving the artiste. For instance, in the finance section, which I lead, we sit down with you to find out, what’s your three-year plan? Do you intend to buy a house? Do you intend to build a house for your mum? What is your short, medium and long-term plan? In the end, we sit down to structure a proper detailed plan for you so that, at the end of the day, when you stop singing, you have a proper house you are going to live in; your pension fund is there.

It seems most of the artistes don’t plan their retirement?
Apart from the pension that makes it mandatory for anybody that works, how many artistes or sportsmen have their personal pension plan? Have you thought about your retirement pension? You are going to set up a firm and you are probably recruiting, are you doing your taxes? Are you paying your local taxes? Are you invoicing quite right? So, we are also advising you with your tax so that you don’t run foul of the local and the federal authorities. So, at the end of the day, you are financially well placed to live sufficiently.

So, what’s the best approach for artistes?
At Temple Management, we help artistes plan their future. For instance, you are a musician now with very good following on social media and other people directed your videos. Have you ever thought of diversifying, probably when you are no more at the top and start directing videos? So, if that’s your interest, we start setting up trainings for you to attend in film locally and international, just to prepare you for life after stardom. Every artiste who has walked in here, it’s completely a paradigm shift from what he/she used to know about entertainment. We first of all analyse you, give you a questionnaire and we interview you. Our legal and finance people will sit down with and essentially give you a roadmap. But for the beneficial part of the industry, we are going to be bringing the best of sportsmen, the best of musicians, the best of video directors to come here and educate our people for the benefit of young talents.

What does it take for an artiste to be on Temple Management, how’s the payment structured?
It’s a percentage system decided by both parties, but we are not here to take from the much you are currently earning, no. We are here to take you from this level because, we don’t think you are deriving much from the talent God has given to you; we think you can open up your revenue streams. And when you do that, when we do take you there, can you just give us a token? So, we’ve increased you from earning like N1m to N10m, and when you get to N10m, can you give us say 10 per cent? That’s the way we’ve structured it.

How long are they supposed to be under your management?
It’s relationship and it depends on what exactly we are doing for you. We have to do proper analysis and look at where we are taking you. Some of them will be a one-year plan, some will be two years, some will be a long-term plan; it’s actually a journey. It’s easy for some people to reach their gestation period within a short while, but you can’t say it’s one-year or two years, but there’s a plan, which we share with the artiste. Even before the artiste comes here, we’ve already analysed you; we known your social media presence, your music, your hits, your fans and things like that. So, when you come here, we advise you on the way to go; whether it’s going to be short term or long term. Though we are quite optimistic, we don’t want to tie anybody here for such a long time. We always believe that once you come to the Temple, you are probably going to renew, renew and renew again because, we got your trust and confidentiality. We have professionals that will take your from where you are to where you want to be. For us, it’s more about relationship and we expect that whomever we’ve taken, within the next one or two years when work stars, you need to see some results.

Most Nigerian artistes are interested in foreign connections, how much of that is Temple management offering?
One thing I want to say is that Temple is a pan-African country. Not only pan-African, we usually pride ourselves as an international company. So, we don’t benchmark ourselves with what is local; we want to benchmark ourselves with the global leaders in this business and we will get there because we are highly optimistic about that. Part of the things we did from the beginning was to ensure that we leverage from out international partnerships. So, we have partnerships with various organisations in Europe and America. ESRG, one of the foremost companies in Europe is our partner and we have relationship with Two London. We also have partnerships with South African firms and some in Kenya, though some of these relationships are still at birthing stage. But we have presence with people over there; those are partnerships that any artistes signed to us will leverage on.

Are there possibilities of Nigerian artistes earning foreign exchange through their works?
Our artistes have enormous opportunity to earn foreign exchange. I don’t know if you’ve heard about a company Sportified, what they do is to stream music content; Apple music is also there selling albums. The chunk of sales that’s happening right now is through mobile devices. Contents you have not been able to monetize for a long time, you have people on the go, who consume them online. Our artistes can earn this dollar revenue; you have people across the globe that can easily download your songs and you have your percentage. But before you can do that, you have to go through an aggregator. Now, do we have that kind of connections to leverage this opportunity here? That’s part of what we offer as Temple management.

How viable is the Nigerian creative industry?
The creative industry in Nigeria has been grossly underrated because we don’t have structures. One thing about this industry is that, whether you are having a recession or you are doing well, the creative industry always flourishes; it’s just like the food industry. If you go back to the ancient times, whenever there’s recession, they always found time to organise events. Yes, it might contract, but not like other sectors. The creative industry has an infinite ability to create employment in the sense that all it takes is your God given talent. You might not be a good singer, but you might be a good writer. You might not be a good footballer, but you might be a good coach. So, there’s a whole value chain in the creative industry that, if it’s structured, if it has the support, if it has necessary funding will create so much employment. Be it comedy, modeling, events… it has an infinite capacity to create jobs, instead of relying on people going to school. That’s what has helped the United States; everybody wants to be a rapper, a basket baller and it’s organised to the grassroots level.

What’s the role of government in growing the creative industry?
If you look at the grants that were given to the creative industry during the last administration, because we lack proper structure, there’s no impact in the industry. Because you haven’t identified firms that were set up to do that, the money is being invested on individuals. I tell you right now, any intervention in the aviation industry is not given to one man; it’s given to either of the biggest four operators, that’s how interventions are meant to work. But unfortunately, we don’t have such institutions in the creative industry. That’s what we are hoping, that with Temple leading the way, we will be able bring up structure that will set precedence, with the hope that any such intervention can easily have that penetration. There are lots of international companies, who want to do business in Nigeria, but who are they going to interface with? We only have individuals, but we’ve never had organisations doing so right now. There are lots of companies, who want to invest here, but there are not institutions structured to do such business. I hope you will be able to come here by next year to see how we’ve been able to turn things around.

As an organisation, what target have you set to achieve your plans for the industry?
For us, we are highly optimistic. Change starts with one person, but we feel we would be that company that will be the catalyst for that change. I think it’s going to be medium to long-term plan, but in Nigeria, things happen quite fast.