Hammond: I See Nigerian Entertainment Globally Competitive

Cecil Hammond, Founder/CEO of Flytime Promotions, one of the foremost names in live entertainment and music promotion in Nigeria, Cecil Hammond, told Eromosele Abiodun during the 10th anniversary special edition of the programme, why funding is a problem in the industry. Excerpts:

Funding is a major problem for the entertainment industry in Nigeria; in what way can this problem be solved?

This can’t be solved until the capital market actually decides to understand how our businesses work. The problem they are facing now is they don’t understand how we operate and make profit. They know we make money and they see money coming in and out but just don’t understand it.

Most of them also complain over 90% of us are all one man businesses with no full structure in place and if they invest funds into our business, what happens to it if something happens to us. The truth is quite a few of us have structure but once again, they haven’t taken the time to sit down with us and learn how we run our businesses and how they can help us grow. Once the capital market understands how we operate, I believe there would be a big change in the entertainment industry.

The government recently set up a fund for the sector has this effort helped to reduce the problem

Nollywood as a sub-sector of the entertainment industry has benefitted to a degree from this fund, but of course much more needs to be done. The music sub-sector operates slightly differently. Thanks to corporate organisations such as the banks, FMCGs and the telecom companies, music artistes get endorsements, which they used to develop their art. These organisations are also the major sponsors of shows and live entertainment events. They are the ones who fund the music industry.

Some have argued that the entertainment industry has failed to tap into the funding opportunity available in the capital market, what is your opinion on this?

I’m not aware of any funding in the Capital Market available for us. As we speak, they are yet to understand how we operate and make funds available for us.

How big is the industry today in terms of addition to Nigeria’s GDP?

We´ve always known the entertainment industry to be sizeable in terms of economic activity, but now we have statistics. According to the recent rebasing of Nigeria´s GDP, the entire Nigerian entertainment industry –Nollywood, music, comedy, theatre contributes about N9trn to the country´s GDP. This is not surprising at all giving the way the industry particularly Nollywood and music production have exploded in the last 10 years.

How did you get involved in the Nigerian entertainment industry?

My uncles (Ben Murray Bruce, Guy Murray Bruce and Roy Murray Bruce) run an entertainment company called Silverbird and I watched them build their empire since I was a little kid. When I moved back to Nigeria in 2003 from the UK, I started working with Silverbird, enjoyed it and believed the entertainment business is what I was meant to do.

Why the focus on Nigerian entertainment?

The Nigerian entertainment industry has enormous potential both in terms of creativity and opportunity. Just look at the evolution of our music over the last decade. It´s been phenomenal! I focused on Nigerian entertainment because there was and still is a huge gap in this industry that has to be filled and so much to be done. It’s also all bringing Nigerian entertainment closer and more accessible to the people and making them happy.

What is your working history?

Fascinated by the work my uncles were doing with Silverbird Communications, I joined the company when I moved back to Nigeria in 2003, working directly with Silverbird for a year and a half. It was during that period that I started putting together plans for Flytime, registering the company while still under employment at Silverbird. I also organized the first Rhythm Unplugged concert in 2004 while I was still a staff of Silverbird.

What values define your work ethic?

Focus and innovation, it is very important to the business that the fans are happy. To make them happy, I have to put myself in their shoes, and think about all the different elements that matter to Nigerian fans, from ticket pricing to seating arrangement. For example, we were the first concert organizers to introduce the concept of tables at concerts. We understood the need for certain individuals and corporate organizations to have their own “party” within the concert. It worked for us and has now become an industry standard. Understanding the needs of our fans is what helps us innovate. We are not afraid to take risks and happy to learn from our mistakes.

What is your vision for Flytime?

Flytime is a proudly Nigerian entertainment company. My vision for the company is to be the most respected media and entertainment house in Africa. I want to see Nigerian content on the global stage, competing at par with Western content. Our goal is to provide a platform for the best Nigerian content, helping to showcase it to the world. That is actually the motivation for Rhythm Unplugged; to create a platform for up and coming musicians and entertainers to thrive and be discovered

Nigerian music and movies are already starting to go beyond Nigeria into Africa, but not mainstream in the way that it needs to be. Hence, the industry needs Nigerian media and entertainment houses dedicated to promoting our content.

Who have you worked with in the industry?

As a company, Flytime has worked with the biggest brands in the music and comedy business. We have been organising shows since our Rhythm Unplugged debut show in 2004. Over the years we have produced concerts and album launches for D´banj, Wande Coal, P-Square, Wizkid, Davido, Tu Face, P-Square, Omawumi, Bez, 9ice, Sound Sultan to name a few. We´ve also produced comedy shows, most notably Bovi Man on Fire.

Flytime also owns a music label; Tiwa Savage and Seyi Shay were the first artists signed under Flytime Music. Both artists were with Flytime for about 2 years before moving on. Flytime also helped to launch Davido’s music career before starting his own music label. Flytime now owns a booking and talent agency that provides all types of talent for all events.

Flytime has also ventured beyond music and comedy. We´ve also produced television shows 3 Live Chicks and the Pepsi Top Ten Countdown as well worked with renowned director Wole Oguntokun to produce the highly acclaimed stage play For Coloured Girls: The Nigerian Adaptation.

What are Flytime´s greatest achievements?

Believing, building and sustaining the Rhythm Unplugged brand for 10 years. It´s easy to create but sustaining the brand is the hardest part. I´ve nurtured the Rhythm Unplugged brand and watched it evolve from our first show at Fantasy land in 2004. Back then, the infrastructure was basic, elements such as the set and lighting were basic. These days we invest a lot of time, effort and technical expertise into delivering a highly experiential event for the crowd. Everything from the lighting to the sound, to the set and the routines is designed to create a sensory experience for our fans.

Where do you see the Nigerian entertainment industry in 10 years?

I see the Nigerian Entertainment industry becoming as globally competitive as the US. Our content will be fully Global by then

Culled from www.thisdaylive.com

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adamondrock

I love life, love God and am a collector of rare items like the ash of a phoenix, egg of a unicorn, tears of an Angel and I drink pap with chopsticks.
Creativity found me, though I wasn't lost and am still paying the price of a chosen one.
It has always been the nature of man to confuse genius with insanity.

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