MBW’s World Leaders is a daily collection during which we shine the highlight on among the business’s most influential figures overseeing main worldwide markets. On this article, we speak to Abuchi Ugwu, CEO of Chocolate Metropolis. Oorld Leaders is supported by BVG.
Chocolate Metropolis is one among Nigeria’s largest and oldest impartial labels.
Based in 2005 by Audu Maikori, Paul Okeugo and Yahaya Maikori, the corporate is headquartered in Lagos, with places of work in Abuja, Nairobi, in addition to within the UK, USA and South Africa.
The label is led by music business veteran Abuchi Ugwu, who was named CEO of Chocolate Metropolis in April 2021.
Earlier than taking on administration of Cholocate Metropolis, Ugwu’s profession noticed him begin as a sound engineer, engaged on various key tasks for Davido, Djinee, Jesse Jagz and Ice Prince.
He additionally labored as an artist supervisor and have become head of enterprise improvement for Chocolate Metropolis in 2015, earlier than leaving in 2019 to hitch advertising company Bean Inventive Company as vp.
Returning as CEO in April final 12 months, he instructed a Nigeria-based publication Enterprise day in Might, that the label is “on the cusp of making chart disruption globally”.
He added that his staff’s focus over the earlier 12 months had “been to rebuild the staff, create nice music and execute on our ‘ArtistCentric’ strategic plan”.
Chocolate Metropolis received a significant international push in 2019 when it in partnership with Warner Music Groupin a deal that WMG mentioned on the time would “considerably enhance the attain of African artists around the globe and create new alternatives for international superstars within the area”.
The label additionally displayed its international ambitions earlier this 12 months through a key rental in the USA, with Franklin “Twizz” David named president of brand name, content material and partnerships in North America.
Ugwu mentioned on the time that “having Twizz on board is actually thrilling for us as we search to increase our base in North America and export our tradition to the world”.
The corporate’s present roster of artists consists of MI Abaga, Blaqbonez, YoungJonn, CandyBleakz, Midday Dave, TAR1Q and Main AJ and was additionally beforehand residence to Afrobeats artists like Ckay, Cube Ailes, Brymo, Koker, Nosa, Ruby Gyang, in addition to distinguished hip-hop teams Ice Prince and Jesse Jagz.
One in all Cholocate Metropolis’s largest international hits lately has come from Nigerian singer-songwriter CKay, whose observe Love Nwantiti was launched underneath the label and have become a worldwide viral hit. It has been streamed over 562 million occasions on Spotify alone since its launch in 2019. CKay has since signed with Warner Music South Africa.
Different current highlights cited by the label embrace the discharge of music producer Younger Jonn’s debut undertaking, the Love isn’t sufficient PE. Chocolate Metropolis says the primary single, DADA, has reached over 50 million streams to this point throughout all platforms.
Chocolate Metropolis additionally notes that one among its precedence artists, Blaqbonez’s album intercourse over love was named as one among rolling stones finest albums of 2021 to this point. The undertaking has ranked #1 in Nigeria and has garnered over 50 million streams since its launch.
Hip-hop legend MI Abaga, in the meantime, launched his newest album The man through Chocolate Metropolis in August. It has charted in over 21 international locations together with the UK.
Right here, Chocolate Metropolis CEO Abuchi Ugwu recounts his first 12 months and a half as CEO of Chocolate Metropolis, what differentiates the label from different gamers available in the market, and shares his predictions on the expansion potential of music streaming in Africa .
You have been named CEO in 2021. Inform us about your objectives for the corporate taking on?
After I was appointed, the corporate was not in good well being (financially) and my first goal was to stabilize the corporate and make it worthwhile for each stakeholder concerned.
What differentiates Chocolate Metropolis from different market gamers?
Chocolate Metropolis is a haven for creatives. We care concerning the inventive course of and the model as a result of we consider music is greater than only a product.
One of many objectives for me is to create an environment the place individuals can create freely.
What does Chocolate Metropolis search for in an artist?
Expertise, onerous work and [a] need to be taught. And drive.
How onerous is it in 2022 to interrupt artists in Nigeria, Africa and the world?
On this digital age, we’re not [only] battle to get your music performed [on] radio [anymore]. Information is vital. You must assume outdoors the field and deal with each channel as vital, which comes at an enormous price
Inform us about Chocolate Metropolis’s partnership with Warner Music Group in 2019 – What have been the highlights of the partnership to this point?
The partnership has been a key ingredient within the evolution of Nigerian music. Instrumental within the progress and variety of our artists, a spotlight could be EMILIAN [by CKay].
I consider the best way ahead for the music business is thru partnerships.
WMG has additionally invested financially in Chocolate Metropolis. Might you inform us extra about this funding?
It is an funding and [a] Partnership. As in any partnership, there are ups and downs, however we profit from one another [from the partnership] and each events are completely satisfied.
i’ve to congratulate [Chocolate City EVP] Aibee [Abidoye] and Temi [Adeniji, MD of Warner Music South Africa and SVP, Strategy, Sub-Saharan Africa] who’re girls on this business and who’re key components within the success of this partnership.
What do you consider the potential of music streaming for labels and artists in Africa and what are the obstacles to the expansion of the streaming market presently?
We’ve not begun to scratch the floor. Music streaming has confirmed to be vital. Just a few years in the past, the [value] tasks haven’t reached the creators and [music] could possibly be discovered [and] randomly downloaded from the net [platforms].
However now streaming provides [artists] the chance to “eat the fruit of [their] ‘work’.
For the obstacles [to streaming growth]it might be cost options and that i hope [will] be resolved quickly.
Music is one factor that unites us [across] geopolitical zones and we’ve not been capable of translate these figures into flows.
What are the largest challenges for the music business on the whole in Nigeria, Africa and the world, in your opinion?
We’ve an enormous downside [with] cost options and [we need a] acceptable tour system.
There’s a lack of [touring] construction regionally and never a good sharing of dividends [in return for] what’s invested.
I may additionally say [the industry is] oversaturated however that is one other dialog.
What would you alter on the earth of music and why?
[I would] stage the enjoying subject and provides rappers an opportunity to compete towards their counterparts from different genres. In any case, Africa is a lot greater than Afrobeats.
World Leaders is supported by PPL, one of many world’s main neighboring rights collectors, with world-class operations that assist performers and recording rights house owners around the globe maximize their royalties. Based in 1934, PPL raises cash in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and North and South America. It has raised over £500million internationally for its members since 2006.
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