Wale Dizzy Akinjogbin, popularly known as Wdiz, studied architecture at the University of Jos. In 2007, he competed in the first MTV & MTN VJ Search and was a finalist, having emerged winner in the Jos zone. He speaks on his plans for the Nigerian music industry. When did you decide you wanted to go into the music industry? Music for me started properly after I left secondary school and I joined a hip-hop gospel group, Cyrus, which made a strong impact in Jos and other parts of the country at the time. I was an artiste, singing and rapping. When I became leader of the group, which had become large especially with the impact, I started teaching and training people in arts, which I could see they had, but had not come into fully. Circumstances that led to the birth of HYPE Nigeria Well, it was simple, I worked in Cool FM Abuja and we received music from certain companies in the UK and USA that is Euro express and Urban Express (all plugger companies) I mean if you see it on MTV exclusive, we had it and maybe a remix at the time. And then, I wanted to promote a few artistes on my label (Black Collar Ent.), who I felt were doing well. So, my partner and I decided to replicate what I had seen there but make it a Nigerian version such that it is relevant to us. And since nobody in Nigeria was doing that, at the time, it would be providing very effective service for both artistes and radio stations. Besides, coming from Jos, I felt we had quality music being produced there that were not seeing the light of day in Lagos. So, we decided to try it out although in more crude ways than what we have now. Since I worked on radio, we called on the favour of a few other friends in other radio stations in Abuja and they were really helpful. Especially people like Vicky Jay of Ray Power, Abuja, G.A.N.G and Doshima now of Kiss FM, Abuja, and Kenny Joseph of Eko FM, then. Setting up? Setting up any business is difficult especially when you are out to make a point that it can be done! It was not and is still not so easy; we got a lot of resistance and side talk telling us it can’t be done here in Nigeria. Especially with the fact that few labels and artistes knew us, and radio stations were definitely not ready to subscribe to something Nigerian and worse off new! So, we decided to push a few guys that we knew who also trusted us from way back (as in Jay town) M.I in particular. At that point, no one knew him especially in these parts. We had to do a lot of travelling, I had to call on a lot of favors from people who knew me from Cool FM, Black Collar Ent., MTV Vj search, etc, but I never let my passion for making stars out of people die. That’s how we got the show on the road. Challenges: Well, just like any other business, we face a lot of stumbling blocks from various angles. Like some radio disc jockeys insisting on being paid to play our material, or artistes giving us songs which are uncensored (we only promote radio friendly editions) and “test expansions” don’t always come cheap. Just regular day challenges that come with the vision which is expected so we deal with them accordingly. Other services offered : Primarily, the outfit is mainly distribution for audio and now, Video materials for broadcast on radio and TV stations. We are also working on a few TV shows as well as a radio shows (I still work as a TV show host and I don’t want my radio skills to die) which we will route through Black Collar Ent. A company we also own, HYPE releases a compilation CD twice a month, how are the songs on the CD selected? We get a lot of songs everyday. But really quality is the most important factor in song selection, even before money. When I worked with Cool FM, Abuja, one of my assignments was to listen to CDs brought in by artistes so as to know which can be played on air and I learnt a lot from that, so I have an ear for good music even if its new. Even if you give me N1 million, I will not push a wack song! At times, I hear a song on radio and I’ll be calling my radio contact to find out who the artistes is so we can take him/her to national. Our core focus is to make sure our material is tight so that radio stations are pleased to play what we give them. So out of what we get, there’s a team that select those who can make it, we call them to sign contracts and we take them all over the country (on radio). Where do we get your CDs, do you only distribute to particular stores or can they be gotten at any audio store? We do not give it to stores and it’s not for everyone! Our services are for radio stations and D-jay’s we supply music free to over 80 radio stations in 31 states and about 500 D-jays in Nigeria. They are not for sale and this is boldly written on the CDs. So, don’t let anyone sell a Hype Nigeria CD to you! You have succeeded in reaching 23 out of 36 states in the country, how soon do you think you will be nationwide? Actually right now, we are in 31 states in the country about 80 radio stations, which is almost nationwide. We are doing Ghana and Kenya very soon. Accessibility to upcoming musicians Though the accomplished artistes give us satisfaction, the truth is, it’s the up and coming that give us the motivation. We knew a lot of the ‘accomplished’ when they were ‘up and coming’ so why not make more. I’ve come to realise that a lot of young Nigerians just think music is an easy way to make money. Unfortunately they find out in not so nice ways that it is not. I’m a simple person, oh yes! I’m accessible o! My job is to make people stars so why not? You can never pay me enough for that satisfaction. You must get the chance to hear a lot of songs first hand, were there any that you wished you never listened to? Everyday, I hear a lot of junk. My car is always full of CDs from new artistes and they show up telling you, they are the next D’banj or MI etc (which is what I’m always on the look out for). Only to hear the material and you want to advice them to try another career path. In fact, once my partner “Billionaire” got really upset for days, to have wasted his time listening to a particular wack artiste. We still laugh at him about it. Problem of piracy: Well, Piracy is a bad worm that is really affecting our entertainment industry. Its a question some of our clients ask when they come. The truth is if those guys want to pirate your work, they’ll get it from anywhere and do it. Since we are giving out our CD’s for free it has not been a problem so far and we hope it continues that way. Do you think Nigerians are true judges of talent? Why? That’s a tough one because there are songs that I have heard and thought won’t see the light of day, which made it big. The truth is that no one has it all, even the listening public now hungers for quality because the overall quality of our music has stepped up. Men this question is hard because even the people you would call as judges to true talent have their own ideas of what true talent should be Nigerian music today I’m a huge fan of Nigerian music. I feel it has come a long way from the times of Alex O, Alex Zitto, Bongos Ikwe, Daniel Wilson, Evi-Edna Ogholi and Dizzy K Falola, among others. Now, we have huge names making good money and fame, putting Nigeria on the international map. The quality of our sound and videos has improved greatly, even more than our movies and it has brought employment to a lot of young Nigerians. Although, I feel we still have a lot to do to make us a force to reckon with on the international scale. I feel if properly packaged we can make Nigerian music one of our greatest exports and not just rely on crude oil, we can change the way the world looks at us and I’m hoping to be part of the greater dividends our music industry is about to walk into. Advise to aspiring Nigerians There are a million and one principles you will hear at various points. Just have it in mind that it’s not easy, don’t expect it to be any time soon. You just have to keep going at your dreams even when your fall, just follow your dreams wisely. Work hard, be honest, sow the right seeds and in due time you will reap. You trained as an architect, has this ever been a stumbling block for you? Men...! I come from a highly education inclined family, I’m the only person I know in my family that’s into entertainment. At first I’m sure I looked pretty un-serious but when the career you picked gives you a good car, a nice house etc your folks start to think, he might actually know what he is doing. But really I’ve always had a very supportive family. In fact, rather than being a stumbling block, architecture (if you allowed the school to go through you) teaches more than anything to plan. Not just a building but everything from time, to projects to presentations and a whole lot more. I just feel education is key. How has being CMO of Hype Nigeria affected your personal life? Being CMO is not too difficult; I can sell ice to an Eskimo. Personal life? Well, I like to say I keep my personal life out of the public eye but the truth is, for now I don’t have much of that. It really does take my time and I’m just so much into work that I tend to forget myself at times. I guess this happens when you love your job. But I’m getting a personal life soon. I promise!
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