A couple of months backTunde and Wumi Obe released their fifth album. It was done under a partnership with Alec Godwin’s Alec’s Music who would be marketing it Notes and Tones used the opportunity to talk with him – on life since his divorce to the Branama queen, Kefee; the modalities and arraignment of the deal with T.W.O; the quest to fully entrench the jewel boxed CDs into the Nigerian music system; some of the rumours that have been in the air about him and finally his plans for re-marrying and the type of woman that would interest him…
You have been quiet for sometime now, what have you been working on?
Well, this is what I have been working on (T.W.O’s album). I think Mr. Tunde caught me unawares, I didn’t plan to market this work, I was looking at fully strategizing and getting ready to take the next step with my plans. What I have on ground now is way beyond what I had in the past. It’s a better way to go; it’s not about selling units and making millions of copies, it’s about making money.
That’s where we are at now. So, I have been working on marketing which happens to be the major problem which the industry has been suffering.
What about Alec;s Music, the record label, is it still functional?
There’s Alec’s Entertainment which the record label is under. Alec’s Music is still functional but we don’t have any artist at the moment and that is how I want it to be until the problems of marketing and piracy are completely solved, then we’ll begin to sign on artists again.
There should be a distribution and marking network without Alaba. 2Face is the first person to come up with the N1000 CD concept in Nigeria and they are already pirating him but as long as we keep arresting them and fighting back, then there’s hope. With a thousand naira retail price, we have enough reserve to combat piracy with, so we will keep fighting and despite the enormous challenge, we have hope that we will succeed.
There was a time the story that you were singing and working on your own album came out, was there any truth in that?
Yes, there is. I have always been singing and didn’t just decide to sing. My ex-wife was in my choir and we released two albums. So, when they say that I am singing or that I want to sing again, it’s true. I have a group and we will be doing some gospel songs and putting them out soon. That’s what you must have heard and it’s true but still in the pipeline; we are still working and recording and it’s coming out on Alec’s Music and Alec’s Entertainment.
There was also this story that you had gone back to your place to become a headmaster or a principal…
(Laughs) What happened is that I run a school, Temple Mission School, Sapele, Delta State which I inherited from my parents as a primary school and then added the secondary arm. My dad is a bishop so it was named after the church, Temple of Deliverance, which he presided over. They were having some issues with the school when they started it and I took over and put somebody in charge to run it while I was in Lagos. Frankly, I was quite nonchalant about what was going on there. But what happened was that the guy put himself together and put up his own school. He built it close to mine and was gradually siphoning the students from my own school over to his. So, I had to move back to town to put things in order. When I got back my number doubled and he couldn’t do a thing although they were thinking it was one of those musical schools but I do have music as one of the subjects on offer but it’s strictly educational.
I don’t know anything about the headmaster or principal, it was just the guy I put in charge to supervise both schools that messed up and I went back to get everything back in shape. I don’t even have an office there, the principal and headmaster both do, I just went back to supervise and that was all.
Coming back to music, apart from Tunde and Wunmi, are there other people on board?
What I am doing now is just marketing and distributing. It’s not for me to look for artists, they are the ones to look for me. We have a solution to some of the problems around the music industry and when you come and you believe in the solution and think that we can pull it off, then we are one.
I can’t really elaborate on that but the idea is to make the works available to the public without depending on Alaba; making that it is sold or brought and there are returns to the parties involved.
What happened to the artists on Alec’s Music?
Our contacts expired naturally, just at the time I was going through some issues and it was just a good time for me to re-strategize and come up with this. I have always known that my strength was marketing but coming to Lagos was a little bit of distraction for me. Fine, I have been distracted, now I know the reason why I am here; I know what I should do which is not just signing on artist. I don’t want to be distracted by all that now. I want to solve the problem which is marketing and distribution; I want to hit it real big because that’s where the money is. I won’t hide it but it’s no joke to make money from marketing, but if you can, there’s money in it but it’s stressful money.
Going a bit private now, are there plans of remarrying; is there someone on the horizon?
Yes, there are plans of remarrying but I don’t know when I don’t know when God will approve it and don’t know who it will be.
Are there plans of you and you ex coming back together and giving it another try?
No. There’s none. Without any disrespect whatsoever, there’s no chance of that happening. All those stories that were told in the past could have been avoided. The bottom line is that we knew we were not meant for each other and we have realized that. Since she understands that, we are not quarreling and if she were here, she would have come over to say hi and I would have responded.
When did you come to realize that you were not meant for each other?
Long before the divorce. The divorce was last year but the separation has been over two year now. Before I took the step to agree for the divorce, I must have decided.
So, how have you been coping since?
If I tell you it’s been easy, I lie but a man has got to do what a man got to do. You have to hang in there and not jump into anything else just like that.
Don’t you miss her?
It depends…I miss the friend I had in her. It’s been a long way coming because we were childhood friends going through church and all that and the laughter. But it doesn’t mean that I want her now so we can laugh yet it’s not that we cannot laugh now but not for a personal relationship again.
Let’s go back to music. Are there partnerships overseas?
Yes. There are discussions going but nothing sealed yet. I don’t want to be in a hurry to enter into any because that’s not my focus now. If we hold on to Nigeria now, it will get there with ease. It will get to anywhere we want to get to with time.
Do you envisage people embracing the N1,000 CD price?
I think it’s going to be a struggle but we at least have up to one million people who can afford it although I know it’s a way past that. But if we are able to sell up to a hundred thousand copies, we will be okay. This is why when a foreign artist sells 20,000 copies, he is given a plaque because that is a lot. But here we do it like it’s easy. I have bragged about selling five million copies of Kefee’s Branama CDs but that, there was just no money to show for it. So, we are tried of making such claims and people assuming that we have one fat bank account when there’s nothing like that.
Now, we can make the fat bank account. We are actually pushing this to make so that the artist can smile and the record company can also smile.
What are the chances of upcoming artists succeeding in situations like this and moving numbers like this?
For us to succeed in this quest we need unity. It’s not just for the big artists. They can also make a difference. Yes, we encourage people to do this standard ones but if they cannot, we will still screen the quality and may be go for half price where Nigerians manufactured CDs would go for a certain price and the foreign ones would go for another price.
Finally, if you are to venture into marriage again, what kind of woman are you looking for?
A caring, understanding, romantic, like minded, lovely, beautiful from inside out and God fearing woman would do for me.