A blogspot for those who don't want a blog.

Location: Las Gidi, Lagos, Nigeria

A BIG kid @ heart.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cost of musical shows by Keith Richards, former head of Guinness Nigeria

So, musical concerts featuring International Artists……

are they good for Nigeria? For that matter, are they good for the organisers, the sponsors and last and apparently least, are they good for the paying public?

The Independence Day concerts were, without doubt, the most ambitious staged in Nigeria in recent times. To bring such major American stars as Beyonce, Jay Z, Buster Rhymes, Snoop Dog and the others was a major achievement. That Mary J and Missy E went AWOL was hardly noticed given the rich talent that was on show. Lets not ignore the parade of Nigerian musicians that were also featured; talents in their own right. Bringing such an array of stars is a major challenge. Even though the party was somewhat of a ‘package’ because this was one stop on an African tour the amounts concerned must have been enormous. My experience tells me that these Americans do not come cheap. A quality artist still on the way up or maybe a bit ‘old school’ can cost anything from $50,000 to $150,000 a show; reducing a little if multiple shows are made or if they play with ‘Playback’, rather than with live support. A top artist with current hits can command up to $250,000 or more if they have a big band with them. In addition, the on cost can be enormous. Rumours have it that the Beyonce party was around 40 people. There were something like 20 musicians and dancers, add to that management, security, personal staff and a few hangers on. These have to be flown in, accommodated, wined, dined and generally pampered.

On top of the performers and their entourage there is the simple matter of putting on the show. Did I say simple? If I meant simple, which I didn’t, I certainly didn’t mean inexpensive. The stage and lighting rig, sound systems and consoles for this weekend were brought in specifically for, I am told, $250,000. I have to say you could ‘taste the difference’. The quality of the equipment was outstanding and guaranteed that the audience could hear the parade of hits as if they were on record. The venue has to be secured and paid for; security (a major issue and a major cost), infrastructure, logistics, catering and all the extras necessary for such an event are an expensive headache anywhere and even more so here.

So, by the time an organiser or promoter has brought in and paid for all the aspects of putting on a show, the total cost is enormous. I just cannot imagine how much the This Day events came to. Two million dollars? Three? More? Even with more straightforward events such as those put on in the past by large companies like Nigerian Breweries and Guinness the economics are such that it is impossible to break even on ticket sales or locally generated revenue. Even for a sponsor with deep pockets it is hard to find a commercial motive for this kind of outlay other than to support more traditional forms of marketing.

The most simple description of the purpose of marketing I have heard is that it exists to achieve three main goals; win new customers, keep existing customers and persuade existing customers to consume more than they already do. So, in the most basic sense, the Joe, Sean Paul and Boys II Men concerts were part of the marketing development of a new brand, Gordon’s Spark, i.e. to win new customers. Wyclef was justified in heralding a major change in a brand heritage, the change in the Guinness bottle, and providing an opportunity to introduce and explain it to consumers. I.e. to win new Guinness consumers, keep existing consumers and persuade them to consume more. The NBL events like Usher and 50 Cents were focussed on maintaining and increasing consumption by the Star brand’s consumers by rewarding their loyalty. In these terms it is hard to see a marketing motive behind This Day and the other sponsors funding of these events. It may be that there were other motives; political, egotistical or altruistic. It is also likely that the scale of the events enabled other revenues; sale of the film of the concerts to ChannelO or MTV, the sale of a documentary on them or payment for one of the artists to make a ‘state’ visit.

So, if there are reasons why such events might be good for the promoters or the sponsors, can it be true that they are good for Nigeria? Certainly some shows in the past have been anything but. A number of American stars that have come here in the past have returned with negative impressions and have badly ‘dissed’ Nigeria to their compatriots. As a result there are a number who, to my knowledge, after having a bad experience actively tell their peers not to come. Let’s be clear, some of these artists are themselves pretty pathetic. They stay in their hotel until the last minute and refuse to visit clubs or mix with their Nigerian fans. There have been ‘gansta rappers’ who pride themselves on their macho image. One look at a few Okada riders at the airport and they are ready to go home. Heaven knows the physical effect on their underwear if they met a true member of OPC or Bakassi! Equally, there are unfortunately some genuine reasons why they might gain a negative opinion. Usually this is associated with security around the events. There have been times when the acts themselves have felt insecure, such as when Usher fled the stage, or when they have witnessed beatings and rape among the audience, such as 50 Cents and Eve. Security is a major nightmare for anyone holding these events but choosing exposed venues or having the wrong ticket prices is just foolish. I also have to take issue with the use of the Area boys as ‘security’. This happened at the This Day shows. I was manhandled personally and witnessed fighting between themselves and beating up of members of the audience. Using these guys ‘empowers’ them and gives them legitimacy and is utterly irresponsible.

The attitude of the artists is mixed. Some, like Wyclef, enter into the spirit of things and embrace their Nigerian fans. That he actually recorded with young Nigerian musicians and paid Royalties on the track they featured in is a major plus.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

the essence of womanhood... through the eyes of a man by 'Lanre Iroche

Trying to define womanhood as a man in the 21st century is like walking a literal tightrope. To be honest, most men wouldn’t even try. For so long men sought to define women in a way that presented them as less than their male counterparts, but now even the most genuine attempt to contribute to the discussion is met with rabid aggression.

Yet when a male friend approached me and a group of female friends seeking suggestions for a photography project (on the subject of womanhood), I couldn’t help disagreeing with the suggestions put forward by our female companions.

In reciting the feminist mantra of the 21st century, I felt these well-intentioned ladies just added to a growing stereotype. As far as they were concerned nothing depicted womanhood better than a woman in a power suit sat behind a desk. I fully understand their thinking when they suggested this: traditionally the fairer gender has been depicted primarily as a homemaker. My issue with their suggestion was that depicting her in the opposite setting neither made up for the follies of our predecessors nor got to the heart of the matter.

For me putting a woman in a particular situation didn’t address the question at hand: What is womanhood?

A woman’s identity is not determined by/in a specific situation (career, marital status, sexual preference). It is not represented by her ownership of a briefcase, or by shuffling between schools in a people carrier. It is not reflected by the size of her salary or her ‘vital statistics’. The true essence of a woman is found in what she brings to the world; what she has to offer in any given situation. It is summed up in one word: nurture.

One dictionary defines nurture as:
The act of sustaining; of bringing up. To nourish or feed; to educate or train; to help grow or develop.

Whether she is CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or simply (in PC parlance) a ‘homemaker’, this is what a woman brings to the table.

What does it mean to nurture? It means that if you give a woman a seed she returns to you a mature fruit.

Give a woman an infant and she infuses that child with enough confidence and self-assurance to face an unkind world.

Give her a task (a job, a career) and she moulds it into a finished and perfect work.

Give her a recipe and she ‘nurses’ it until it is a delicious meal.

Give her a house and she turns it into a home.

Give her a person, anybody, and she builds with that person a relationship.

Give her a canvas (her face/body) and she turns it into a work of visual art. (By this I mean her application of make-up and her choice of clothing, not plastic surgery)

Give her hope and she transforms it into confidence (faith).

Give her a sperm and she returns with a baby.

Men have put women down all through history because they didn’t understand her. But there is a greater danger today that women don’t understand themselves. A friend confided in me that until recently she felt the purpose of a woman was to strive with men, to show that she could do anything they can do. The problem with this scenario is that the man is still setting the standard; the woman is just showing that she can keep up. Instead of doing things men could do, wouldn’t it be better if women showed they could do things differently?

Different. It is almost a taboo word. Yet there is no getting away from the fact that men and women are different. Different doesn’t mean that one is better than the other. It just means different. It means different functions, different contributions, different methods. Neither gender is more important than the other and neither is less necessary. There are things women can do that a man will never be capable of doing, and there are things men can do (ejaculate sperm for instance) that a woman can’t. Should that be a problem?

A woman’s work can never be duplicated. She is the lifeblood of creation; life is given through her and sustained through her. She has the power to minimise hatred and increase love; to reduce hostility and replace it with compassion. She can do all this because she is a nurturer. She builds, she doesn’t destroy. This is why the gender wars are dangerous. Competition breeds animosity, defensiveness and divisiveness. It has the potential to dull the nurture instinct. How? If a woman choose that rather than nurturing in all the areas that affect her, she will only nurture where it suits or pleases her, the result would be a void in the nurture quotient required to sustain humanity. If this persists men will eventually notice the nurture void, and will seek to fill it. The problem is they are unlikely to succeed and it is the world that will suffer. A woman president would have handled the Iraq war differently.

That a man fails to notice a woman’s contribution does not undermine her essence; it is not dependent on his acknowledgement or approval.

There is a great piece of biblical literature that beautifully captures the essence of a woman (contrary to common belief this piece of scripture actually advocates female entrepreneurship). It is found in the book of Proverbs, in verses 10-31 of chapter 31:

“A [woman] of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies…She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar…She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night…She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple…She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

I couldn’t have put it any better myself