Asa Asika, Bizzle Osikoya, and Tobi Mohammed, the showrunners of The Plug, sit with Chude Jideonwo for a World Music Day special where they discussed the global interest in Nigerian music, pulling their companies together to form a strong force and how to be a star.
On the merger and the reason for it which is against the trend the industry. Bizzle shared, “Asa and I did it first, and we’ve been doing business with Tobi from when we started. Plug and Block Party are age mate sort of. We have been working together, so it was a no brainer. In the industry where everyone is trying to do their own thing and be their own boss, let’s show people something different, let’s come together and form a force and that was how it is.”
On why there was an era of a few labels and then splitters, Asa Asika, shared, “I feel that everyone is just trying to complete they don’t realize that we are actually stronger together. I used to tell people that there is a demand for afrobeat and Afro-culture right now, and where we are going to mess up is if we don’t come together to work as one.”
Tobi Mohammed speaks to the trend of merging when businesses in the creative industry would only merge when there are not on top of their game and why theirs was different, and he shared how their business is built on a strong relationship, ‘We are brothers, because I feel that on the ladder of success as you start to grow, your circle becomes smaller, because you start to see people whose vision aligns with yours. I don’t think there was ever any naysaying. We find comfort in our strengths and weaknesses. When Asa and I started Plug in 2016, we just wanted to manage producers and Djs, we didn’t want to work with actual artiste.”
On how they are able to make the partnership work, Asa shared, “we are three different people, and that is why we ‘work’. For example, we worked with Oxlade for like two to three years. Bizzle believed in Oxlade from day one. I am the person that is the hardest to convince. I told Bizzle to go and make the music, when the music is ready, send me a link.”
“And that is how we do things, Bizzle is the guy who goes to the studio and makes the music, I will sit down and plan on how to make the person a superstar and Tobi ensures that business side of things is running. That why it works for us.”, he added.
When asked if the spotlight on Afrobeat is short-lived, Asa shared, “there are 54 countries in Africa. How many countries are there in Europe? If nobody in the world cares about Afrobeats again, we’re fine. There are artistes in the US that are only popping in Texas. They don’t leave certain areas and they’re good. So, yes, it’s all nice. That I go to New York, and I see Olamide’s face in Times Square, I go to London tomorrow, Tiwa is selling out, it’s amazing but if it doesn’t happen, we are fine. At the end of the day, Latin America is big in America. What’s the second most spoken language in America? It’s Spanish. Yoruba is not top 10 languages there. The thing that helps us is that Africans are all over the world, Nigerians particularly are everywhere”. Bizzle Osikoya also shared, “Afrobeat can never die. The reason why I’d say it can never die is because we Nigerians don’t give up. We’re going to keep building and grinding so that those things don’t stop. So, what just needs to happen is that we just need to find a way to educate our industry because [failing to do this will] kill us.”
They also shared that there is no rule book to success in the industry. “Contrary to public opinion, when David blew, we had no support. I always say it, for the Dami Duro video, I spent 100,000 naira. I gave one person at one TV station 100,000 naira because I could not leverage on relationships. Dami Duro video came out and there was like a strike for like petrol or something. I gave one person at one TV station 100,000 naira, Asa Asika shared. Bizzle also added that, “at the end of the day, stars just align. People don’t understand it. People just think sometimes it’s about money. Sometimes, money works, but sometimes too, your star can just align. Everything will just be in your favor, and it will work out for you. People don’t understand, all of you may come out at the same time but if God says, it’s not your time to blow, then it’s not.”
On being successful Tobi Mohammed said, “Positioning is also very important. Brain work will always go farther than money. To create your own luck, you have to position yourself. For example, with Victony, the song that we did marketing for and paid a lot of money didn’t get the global attention that Soweto did.”
Watch the excerpt here