During the explosion of the pop scene, the artists got celebrated, but they were many behind the scene collaborators with stories to tell, who played their part in adding to the growth of the industry and one of such personalities is Godwin Tom.
Godwin Tom is credited with the success of a number of artist careers having earned his stripe in 2008 working with MI Abaga.
In a recent visit to the Pulse Office, the talent manager shares his experiences, music business, 10 year career and how he has managed to remain relevant on the scene.
On how he became a talent manager
”The truth is I became a talent manager because I was bored, I had a job as PR marketing manager for a company, at some point I got bored with the job.
And I remember I called Osagie (Osarenkhoe) and she asked me if I was interested in managing an artist, I said yeah, I listened to this artist, I was blown away, three weeks later I quit my job, the artist is M.I Abaga.”
He speaks further on working with M.I
”It was a lot of pressure, because I believed immediately in the music, even the music I heard wasn’t the popular songs he put out, one of the music I heard was ‘Chant Down Babylon’, I was blown.”
On the pressures that came with his switch into becoming an artist manager, he explains, ”To be honest, I already had some experience working in the corporate world.
So most of the conversations I was able to have was easy for me because I had worked in advertising, printing, so I was able to translate that conversation from business into the industry, the most difficult thing was there was no structure, so I had to work with that as you go.
I learnt from as many people as possible and my own mistakes as well.” he added.
How working with M.I helped his growth
”I worked with MI from 2008 till February 2010, I couldn’t have picked a better person to start my career with, his work ethic, his attention to details and his ability to inspire played a part in me becoming the manager I am.
M.I blew up pretty quickly, in one year, he was the talk of the town, the biggest challenge for me was going from the regular nine to five, if you call me at 4 o clock, you know where I am, where I get to rest over the weekend, to jumping into an industry where girls, parties, clubs, you start getting carried away.
It got to a point, it was MI at some point that actually got me back on track, he had to sit me down like yoo, do your job.
Asked if he anticipated M.I’s success
”I saw it once out of faith, I said to him, you were going to be the biggest artist in Africa, we were in Djinee‘s room, MI laughed not because he didn’t believe me, but it was funny.
Look at where we were, he was living in a room in Djinee’s place, so imagine being in that little space and having conversations about you going to be the biggest artist in one year, but we did it.” he says
Defining the role of an artist manager
”It has changed over time, in the olden days, it was just about finding a label for the artist, once you get popular, people call you to book shows.
But now we are getting to a stage where people are becoming afraid of labels and are finding better ways to market themselves, so the labels become almost useless, so the role of the manager is shifting, it is becoming more of a business development role.
The new role is to identify opportunities and generate revenues for the talent from those opportunities.”
On working with Davido and Wizkid
In his 10 years journey, Godwin Tom has worked with a number of A-list names from Jesse Jagz, Ice Prince, Aires, Rooftop Mcs, SDC and Wande Coal, but none comes close to working with two of the biggest names on the scene in Wizkid and Davido.
”For David, I was approached by Asa (Asika) when he was releasing ‘Back When’, what they needed was someone to help out with their promotional activities and the strategy, that is how I worked with David in late 2011.”
”My work with Wizkid was interesting, it wasn’t particularly new but I made more money, it was an interesting thing to see.”
Speaking on rumours surrounding Wizkid’s character, he replies, ”It is hard to pay attention to everybody the same way, I have seen Wizkid be the nicest person to people he has never met in his life, but I have also seen situations where it gets really exhausting.
Sometimes we have to walk around with money, because there are some places you get to, if you don’t drop money, they won’t let you leave.
For two years working with Wiz, he is in the studio every day, I am not exaggerating, there are very few people that have that work ethic.
There was always a producer in the house and when we travel, there was actually a rule, he has to travel with one producer, you don’t even have to tell anybody, the moment we step into a hotel, we start setting up because he was going to come in and record.
A lot of people don’t see that part of Wiz, and if you work that hard you deserve everything.”
On how their relationship ended
He also addressed the rumors of him falling out with Wizkid, ”It was a disagreement, that is as much as I can say to be honest, I have no objective right to say anything negative about Wizkid.
It was a disagreement, we didn’t agree on so many things, so we had to move on, but we have moved past it, we are good.”
Asked if he considered himself the stubborn type, he says, ”I think I am just pretty much a person who wants to do the right thing and sometimes I make mistakes, but I feel something is the right thing to do at the point, I do it.
How has he survived in the industry for 10 years
”By just doing it… the only way to show or build your name is to actually do the work, there is no other way around it…
I didn’t learn by reading, even though I researched, I learnt by doing, I was told I couldn’t deliver when I started working with Wande Coal for example, but we see the difference from 2016 till now, so no matter what I say, what will speak for me is my work.”
On his 10years a learner campaign
In celebration of his 10 years journey as a talent manager, Godwin Tom has put together a series of activities, and he says all he wants to do is to impact what he has learnt.
”It is a campaign I am starting and the reason is, at some point, you have to find a new meaning to what you do and I want to impact.
I had done this business for 8 years before I realised that I had built a career, but I never run a business, I had built a career but I didn’t have a structure, and I felt like it was important to impart that knowledge into people.”
How lucrative is the job of a talent manager
”If you know our job, you will realise that it can be very lucrative, you can make a lot of money being a talent manager when you understand giving value.
The reason why we are doing the job is because of the artist and when we understand that, it will help you as a business person to do more.”
The most important lesson in his 10 years as a talent manager
”You are nobody, every single thing attached to your name is as a result of the work you do or the artist you managed, that is one of the most important things I learnt.
When I and Wizkid stopped working, nobody wants to see you, the brand manager doesn’t want to pick your calls anymore because you are no value to him, he was your friend because you managed Wizkid.
So once you understand that you are forced to think of more ways you can create more value.
Secondly, don’t treat people anyhow, the truth of the matter is people forget things, the people I started talking to when I started this job are now brand managers and just because of the relationship we built earlier, I can make phone calls. Another thing I have learnt, in everything you are doing, build a business.”he concluded.