Someone asked me a funny question a few days ago. She asked ‘‘If writing was music and you had to be signed to one of the record labels in Nigeria, who will you want to be signed to?’’. The answer had come quite easily. I went on to say if my music had the same quest as my writing, that is, to have as many people as possible read my works and to earn as much as I can from my talent, then only one record company would suit me if I am not signed to my own company. That would be Mo’ Hits Record!
If that was a conversation between two seemingly unserious people, what would you say about a company brain storming session for a book publication focussing on Nigeria’s Super Brands? Mind that it was not Music brands in particular but major brands in Nigeria irrespective of industrial affiliation. In the midst of this brainstorming session, the leader of the group came up with Mo’ Hits Record. One thing of note is the fact that this person does not really pay attention to Nigeria’s music industry but she knew enough to vote Mo’ Hits into the list of Nigeria’s Super Brands and of course we were quick to agree to the stated truth. Because of the limited number of companies we had to deal with in the book, Mo’ Hits did not make the final cut but an impression had been made as all and sundry had agreed that Mo’ Hits was not just a mega music brand in Nigeria but a brand to be reckoned with. I felt this was quite unusual in an industry where individual names ring more supreme than that of their responsible company entities.
What is the Mo’ Hits way? I think as complex as you would expect that question to be answered, it boils down to one answer. To do music that will enjoy the attention of all and sundry – talk about media houses, DJs, VJs, the fans, fellow artistes, old and young, poor and rich, Nigerian and non-Nigerian… Mo’ Hits has deduced a formula that sells and you can almost trust that even if they release an album by a naturally untalented artiste, that artiste would still make a showing that would dwarf his own inadequacies, simply because the Don Jazzy effect simply propels the ear to listen and the body to dance. If there’s a brand living up to its name, you can not look further than Mo’ Hits, a name that suggests More Hits. They have been so successful at it so much that their efforts at making hits has almost been taken for granted, yet they haven’t taken their own responsibility at living it up for granted.
Don Jazzy as a producer is deservedly well celebrated but another aspect of his that has not really been brought to the fore is his business acumen. If Arsene Wenger a football manager knows a football talent before such explodes on the football scene, Don Jazzy is Wenger’s replica on the African music scene. Those of us with enough music sense know that talent is not enough to succeed; you need the right mix of production, marketing, charm, poise and charisma to go with a strong business mix. All of these have almost been perfected if not perfected by Don Jazzy and his crew. D’banj’s story reads like one where a man who could not get it right and then hits the spot when a certain Don Jazzy gave him a chance in the face of pessimistic reactions. Several years on and that has proved more than a witty investment. Today, D’banj ranks as one of Nigeria’s most prestigious artistes often getting comparisons with the Baba himself i.e. Tuface. D’banj is not just the organ blowing boy who sings to entertain, he is indeed the vice-president of Mo’ Hits Records. He is a brand’s brand having been the face of many top of the range brands and endorsing several of them. Many of us differ on the essence and success of Koko Mansion but we will not differ on the fact that it was a huge commercial success for the Koko Master. That was its debut; trust them to improve on it the next time around. It is to the success and popularity of the Koko that a cable channel gets dedicated to it. The Mo’ Hits crew still milks the Koko word more than an average Fulani gets to milk his cow, this despite the fact that it’s been some six years since that monster hit. Koko lounge, Koko water, Koko mattress, Koko this and Koko that.
Wande Coal mesmerised the ladies, thrilled the guys, sent Clubs wild and crazy, got parties grooving, mothers reminiscing, Daddies rediscovering and all wondering how he did it. You could say talent but it has been well proven that success at anything not least the music game goes beyond talent, it had to be strategic. Long before he released his first single, Wande was being groomed by Mo’ Hits and was getting positioned on music tracks and videos. By the time he came up with Ololufe, the general public had practically salivated over a song or anything for that matter from Wande Coal. Mo’ Hits crew created a huge demand for Wande Coal long before he released his first album. That his alleged nude picture rose to the top of twitter’s picture ranking is a pointer to his super star status. Demand for a product is not enough for it to sell, the product must meet up with its expectations otherwise demand would fall. When Wande’s Mushin 2 Mo’ Hits album was released, the supply was far less than the demand for it. Expectedly, Pirates filled up that gap but the Mo’ Hits crew had again proved its Midas touch was even getting more effective. A Star had been born in Wande Coal and winning some five plaques at the 2010 Hip-Hop World Awards was just another statement on his Mo’ Hits testimonial.
The Mo’ Hits crew All-Stars’ CV album set up its established and its many budding stars to instant recognition, putting them on the shop window and exposing them to the market. When they each took their turns to release their albums, that was just a business script written by the Mo’ Hits code to maximize its product sales. It sure worked as D’banj, Wande Coal, Dr.SID, D’Prince’s bank statements will tell you. From the look of trend of events, more seems to be in the offing. AnotherMo’ Hits All Stars album will not be unexpected as some artistes whose talents show that they should be more successful than they currently are have found their way to the house of hits, a record label that guarantees sales, a production master that guarantees hits and a business that promises and delivers on success..
If you need an African template on how to build a thriving music brand in Africa, you need not look too far from Mo’ Hits Records. There’s a whole lot to be put in place, a myriad of success yet to be achieved but I know even the haters can not dispute the fact that Mo’ Hits Records remains one of Nigeria’s Super Brands. It is more than music, it is music business, it is business! While you await the next ‘‘it’s Don Jazzy again’’, signature, just remember that more than the production that sells the music is the strategy that goes into selling it!
Images via various web sources