Popular Nigerian singer-songwriter, Oladapo Oyebanjo, aka D’banj, has come a long way since he released his debut album ‘No Long Thing’ in 2005.
The multiple-award winning artiste who has been dubbed one of Nigeria’s richest solo musicians, recently celebrated the first year anniversary of his CREAM platform. In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, the Koko Master speaks about his foray into agriculture, giving back to the society as well as the direction of his career.
PT: Why did you establish CREAM platform?
Dbanj: CREAM platform was established to harness genuine creative talents across the genres of entertainment, arts and entrepreneurship in all the states of Nigeria. The platform is not designed to sign the winners but market their content. To this end, we will collaborate with record labels to sign these talents. So, you can call CREAM the Google of African talents. I agreed to become an ambassador of Bank of Industry because they told me that they wanted to help structure and better monetise the creative industry. At the time, they did not understand how we (entertainers) ran our business. That was when I started Koko Garri and they gave us a loan of N50 million to start CREAM platform. And we were able to pay them back in six months and this was possible because in three months we had over three million subscribers. It really surpassed my expectations.
PT: Two months ago on your Instagram page you announced that your CREAM platform is worth $130 million. Do you still stand by that figure?
DBANJ: To answer your question the platform was valued by KPMG nine months into the launch for 130 million dollars. Honestly I was surprised, since this is a platform, which we just launched, and an idea that God gave us with a wonderful team we put together. For it to be valued over 1 million dollars is a wonderful thing and to answer your question, has it changed? I think it has. We have had so much potential and investments and all and even expansion into other countries and offers are coming. I believe next time we sit here and talk about valuation I think the platform will be worth much more.
PT: Tell us more about your interests in agriculture?
Dbanj: We launched the agriculture project in 2014 and this opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities in this sector. I am proud to tell you that I opened my own Koko Garri processing plant where we can process cassava into garri in Sagamu last year. We are also trying to expand and I am happy with that my investment in agriculture has been on autopilot. Koko Garri is here to stay and when we want to expand we will be able to meet up with the demands of the public. Going into business and focusing on the showbiz angle of my career at the time I did, has been my greatest decision. My best career decision was not my decision directly. We all know the details so I don’t want to mention names but I know that everyone understands who or what I’m referring to.
PT: So, is music taking a back seat for now?
Dbanj: Music is still on the front burner for me. Recall I released my latest album, King Don Come” in August. The project is my fourth solo studio album since I came into limelight 12 years ago. At the same time, I think that most artistes focus more on the creative side of showbiz than the business angle. Nigerian music industry needs more talented managers and business craftsmen, who know how to monetize contents and brand artistes. Musicians must endeavor to hire managers that will manage their brands and turn N1 million into N10 million .You will agree with me that almost every family in Nigeria has a show man, a talented act, but what we need right now are resourceful brand managers and management companies to structure our industry so that artistes can make money out of their crafts. The business aspect of the Nigerian entertainment industry has not been given adequate attention.
PT: Don’t you think that channeling so much time, effort and money on the CREAM platform may affect your music career negatively?
DBANJ: I don’t think so. We will be having partnerships with other brands that can take them on t road trips. It will be reminiscent of what Nigerian Breweries did for me in 2004 with Star trek that put me on the world map. People ask me what I stand for and I tell them I stand for visible hope for Nigeria’s many talents and I am proud to say I can see myself rendering help to more with support from our partners.
PT: Some persons believe that the CREAM platform is a scam?
Dbanj: I think you can answer that question yourself because I have laid the facts for you. With the large and unexpected number of subscribers, we realised that we didn’t have enough mentors to coach those who wanted to do music. We also realised after the second month that some of the winners wanted financial support. It wasn’t about the music for them. With a great song and a great video, some of them still needed to pay bills. We also realised that people who were not interested in the talented aspect needed financial support for their businesses. This was why we introduced the lottery side of the business. So, every month, we have two sets of winners: first, winners for the lottery. Our subscribers play to win between N50, 000 and N1 million monthly. We have had more entries and participants than ever before. The lottery side has been great other than the fact that some of the winners are scared. They think it is a scam. But we have been trying to convince them that it is a genuine venture. And we are trying to streamline the process such that people do not need to come to Lagos to collect their cheques.
PT: How have you being able to manage your business and personal life?
DBANJ: When I wear my glasses, I am Dbanj. When I remove the glasses I am Daniel. On a serious note, I believe you have to keep your personal life as private as possible that is why it’s called a private life. I have had my fair share of being in the public eye, coming under public scrutiny and exposing myself to the public. Sometimes I tell people who in the daytime I am Daniel; at night when I go out for my shows I am Dbanj. My business side is Daniel while my entertainment side is Dbanj. I just keep staying focused. Whatever I do not want the public to know, I try to keep it away from them.
PT: With your busy career do you create time for your wife?
DBANJ: I think my wife is in the best position to answer your question. Of course, I can’t forget my fans because they are the ones who are making my business boom. Like I said, I am a married man and right now I am focused on the creation of wealth for the future. By so doing, my son, Daniel, can see some visible wealth on the table in future.