#SoundOff: Entertainment Industry Hardest Hit By New Economic Realities (READ)

#SoundOff: Entertainment Industry Hardest Hit By New Economic Realities (READ)

By Charles Novia | Op-Ed Contributor on October 26, 2015
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Muhammadu Buhari Nigeria APC
Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, shown here on June 14 in Johannesburg, South Africa. | Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images

The present economic realities in Nigeria is biting hard too in the entertainment sector; which is an irony because entertainment is actually supposed to thrive during a recession, going by the theories. Live events, especially comedy shows, have been recording dismal numbers in most states, even in Lagos.

The corporate sponsors of shows and concerts have cut down on their events budgets and there are fewer shows in 2015 compared to 2014.

As that reality hits the musicians and comedians, there is some sort of muted agony amongst them. The musicians especially will not reduce their performance fees though but the volume of the shows are few and far between than before. Where an artiste used to have like ten bookings in a month before, he now gets like two or one. This has affected the lifestyles and the show – off on instagram culture which is part of a sub-industry on its own.

A couple of weeks ago, Julius Agwu’s ‘ Crack ya Ribs’ held at Transcorp Hilton in Abuja. By 8pm when I got there to attend the event, it looked like a ghost town. The hall itself was not even half – filled, by my reckoning. That didn’t seem good at all.

The ‘Nite of a thousand laughs’ in Port-Harcourt a few days before that had only about a hundred people in the hall which could accommodate over a thousand! That didn’t seem good at all.

And a few other cases, I’m told. Except sponsored events where the big corporate organisations give free tickets such as the Star Trek and other telecommunications sponsored shows. Freebies don’t fail to draw the crowds.

But it hasn’t been all that bad for a few acts in 2015. Korede Bello, Dija and Wizkid made money from Globacom endorsements. Curiously, Don Jazzy is still an MTN ambassador while his Mavin crew of Korede, Dija are with Glo. Good business sense. Ice Prince got an endorsement from Skye Bank and a couple of other deals. Omotola got a brand endorsement deal with Scanfrost electronics.

But the biggest and most pleasing brand endorsement in my opinion in 2015 is the Etisalat ‘s brand ambassadorial status given to Nollywood actor, Francis Odega. You know, I’m one soft person inside, if you remove the perceived hard exterior I put up ( lol) and when I saw Francis for the first time in the Etisalat adverts, a few tears ran down my cheeks.

Everyone has his or her time in the entertainment industry. Everyone. No exception.

What is Francis’ story? It’s one which should inspire every struggling artist and every hopeful creative. My good friend, Emma Ugolee, captured it succinctly in one of his nuggets of motivational words and I reproduce below;

“This guy just left me a little speechless and I must admit, a little low in my spirit. He was asking me when I was going to be a multi millionaire from investment and affiliation with the entertainment industry? 15years and I never buy Bentley.

“Just I was chewing on his words and advice that it was time to stop waiting for my time & do whatever to get mine, I recalled the name : Francis Odega from nowhere

“That name belongs to a comedian who started his sojourn before the birth of Nollywood. In the late 80’s Francis was in a comedy drama series called “At your service” as directed by a Bourdillon Bodio for the NTA. Later, he tried to eat from a radio comedy show with Okey Bakassy. Thereafter he was a pioneer stand up comic for ‘Night of a thousand laughs’ The night by this time had refused to give way to day break for his commercial success.

“Then he joined Nollywood as the side-kick clown for years. Within this period, the industry that never put him on the A list took such a nosedive that Mr Odega had to open a video rental shop at Mafoluku where he attended to customers himself at times

“All this while, he didn’t give up on his craft along with HARDWORK, PATIENCE & CONSISTENCY. Then with one small scene in a super low budget movie in 2015, God said it was time to pay him. Pay day today is that Francis is the most popular Nigerian actor in the world at the moment. Doubt me, then show me who else has 50cents and Tiny Tempa reposting his video’s & ‘ff’ (following) him on Instagram. Pay day is fully booked UK & US shows. Pay day is endorsement with a Telcom company just signed. Pay day is money rolling in like mad

“The rule hasn’t changed with God. Work hard and wait. Don’t soil your hands out of impatience. “God dey” still works 4 d poor man. It will come like a dream.

“Hurt over my earlier speechless response, I now have the perfect response waiting for my taunting pal should he dare to ask me how long I want to wait. My loud and clear answer would be GERARAHERE!!”

Emma Ugolee captures it in that piece. If there is an inspiration for any one to be consistent in what you do, let the Francis Odega story be your tonic for 2015.

So, empty halls or poorly attended events, depreciating value of the economy and all; it doesn’t matter. Your star will shine one day.

Soon.

Charles Novia is an award-winning filmmaker. He is founder of November Productions and November Records. Connect with him on Facebook.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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