Audu Maikori, Chief Executive Officer of one of the record labels in the country, Chocolate City, met with TOPE OLUKOLE in Lagos and spoke about MI, Jesse Jags, Gyang and other artistes under his stable. Excerpts:

From Jeremiah Gyang to MI and Jags, you have produced acts that have made a success of their music career. What do you look out for when signing an act?

We think music is as spiritual as physical and we look out for artistes who are as passionate about their profession as they are talented. We try to work with musicians and not artistes, because we are passionate about the type of music that comes out of our camp and the ability of a musician to play at least a basic instrument makes the difference when you hear the finished product. We are very particular about quality; we will never compromise on a few acts and improve their career to its logical growth path and that’s why the signing process into Chocolate City is vigorous and selective.

Despite the cries over the pains of Alaba, smart music executives like you still go to them. What is stopping you from finding an alternative to Alaba?

We are working around that, but at the end of the day, we must get the music to the people and we must seek the most effective means by which this can be done. We are, however, talking with a wide range of distributors and exploring alternatives to the present situation. While we are exploring this, we have built our business around digital/on line sales of music, which has opened new vista internationally. We have licensed our music in France, United Kingdom, United States, and more recently, the Caribbean.

You have signed mostly acts from Jos, are you not concerned that some critics will think you are sectional, and take you up on this?

Well, I wouldn’t say that. We have worked with Djinee (Delta), Faj (Yoruba), Asa and we are actually going to unveil a new musician from Nigeria. But I would say that from the context of our situation, we started off the music label/management because we felt that talented people from the other parts of Nigeria were not getting a chance to display their talents and we wanted to be able to provide a platform for them beyond just Lagos. Five years have passed since then and talented people are springing up from every nook of the country. We are not afraid of critics attacking us on that point because they might as well attack Kennis Music for signing only Lagos-based artistes, or Storm or Mo Hits. We are operational in both Lagos and Abuja and we will sign artistes from anywhere as long as they are ready to work within our model. People forget that I lived most of my life in Lagos and half of my team resides, works and was bred in Lagos.

What is the greatest business principle of Chocolate City that will ensure you keep running showbiz in Nigeria?

We run a win-win business model, believing that if we empower people, we do not only add value to them, but also add even greater value to ourselves. Most companies believe the industry is about rivalry, we believe it’s about competition. But beyond this, we have always been focused on building a company that will compete on a global scale and with that in sight, we are building a formidable team, creating world class products and rendering the best service we can to our clients.