Managing creative has never been a walk in the park

Friday, December 18th, 2020 00:00 |
Martin Sibuor.

Managing a creative has never been a walk in the park, especially when the family is involved in the management. But as Jasmine Atieno writes, it takes mutual trust, transparency and understanding to make it seamless.

In showbiz, mixing family and business is perceived as the genesis of an epic fail.

This, it is said, is because family is smothering and can easily overstep the boundaries and things could get really messy when target is not achieved for both the manager and the creative— be it an artiste, a comedian, dancer and actor, among others.

Mombasa-based artiste Sis P was under the management of her baby daddy Khalid for more than five years.

The business relationship ended after the birth of their baby, and she attests to the fact that it was a challenging experience.

While she now hires freelance managers to work with, she is taking the lessons along as well.

“It is very challenging, especially when you have different ideas on how to do things; it just brings conflict.

From my experience, being managed by my husband meant also that as the head of the house, his word had to be final.

In my case, he wanted his hands on everything while as an artiste who needs a team of many people, I felt literally suffocated.

So, unless it is someone who will let you be, I can say family might not be the best in managing talent,” she tells Spice.

While there might be many epic fails emanating from family members managing a talented kin, there are stars that have successfully been managed by family members and thrived at it.

Gospel artiste Collins Majale aka Collo Mfalme (formerly of the rap trio Kleptomaniax), has been under his wife’s management for over a decade. The experience, he says, has been the best.

“She is my better half and understands me better than anyone else. As an artiste, you need someone you can confide in, and that person for me is my wife.

Our challenge has been dealing with personalities of people we are trying to work with.

It is not easy to get a good manager and it is also expensive and you also have to be on the same page of things. 

“We had other managers we worked with before as Kleptomaniax, but they all could not do what my wife can now.

For example; keeping me off the girls, and the alcohol, also as an advocate, business is always on check,” shares the Bazokizo hitmaker.

Problems and disagreements

Kisumu-based artiste, Apesi was formerly under a talent management label, but decided to bring his wife into the business in 2018.

Although it has been challenging in diverse ways, he says he has learnt to balance out.

The wife takes care of his business in Kisumu while his team in Nairobi under Vanessa Georgia ensures the business in the capital is on check.

“There are a lot of challenges. Sometimes our family problems and disagreements affect our business. 

If we had argued at home, my wife would carry it to the office. Some other times, the clients want to talk or meet the artiste only’ and if it happens the client is a woman, my wife will always pour her feelings into it.

One thing I learnt though; make it strictly business. It has worked for me because we do a lot of research on our ideas and the decisions we make.

My wife is also a good learner and she accepts when she is wrong. Therefore it becomes easy to work.

We also have a work structure and contract as Apesi Entertainment,” he shares.

Rhumba deejay Martin Sibuor intimates that he has been under his wife’s management for over a decade now.

This was before trying to work with other people, but due to lack of transparency, he opted to do it himself. He says transparency is the most vital part of the business.

“The main thing is getting to understand the business aspect of it. I had tried working with other people, but there was too much trickery.

Transparency makes everything easy to organise; when you know what’s coming in and how it’s being spent.

The first step is to accept that it’s a job. Once this sinks in, things should work out perfectly,” says Sibuor.

Parents will most of the time be the first to discover their children’s talents. And whilst wanting to nurture them they also are aware of the dangers within the industry.

Former Machachari star Joy Ohon, also known as Joy in the TV kids drama series, has been under her parents management since she was seven years old, now 18.

Her mother Rosy Ohon (who is a musician) says the industry has a host challenges.

Exploitation question

“In this industry, children, as compared to adults, cannot defend themselves, so they can easily be exploited when it comes to pay.

This might be the greatest challenge out there. At the same time, there are things that parents need to always keep in check when it comes to work.

For example, don’t commercialise the children so much that they miss the fun. Some parents use their children as assets for money making without giving them time to explore as children.

This is their money, so let them enjoy it; go on holidays and make childhood adventures,” she says.

Rosy adds: “Train the child in a godly way. This is how we have tackled things with Joy; if we notice something odd we attack it.

It is important that kids know who they are. Also the child need to be taught how to be friendly to people and humility, so the fame doesn’t get into them, and this is something that we have really worked on.”

Faith The Poet is a 14-year-old singer, poet and public speaker based in Kisumu.

Eight years ago, she was left to her mother’s management after her manager at Bridge Line passed on.

Her mother Jackline Mwende intimates that managing her has been a challenge that she hopes to get help with soon.

“Following the death of the manager, as the mum I had to take over and make sure Faith still chases her dream.

But it is not easy because the former manager was a professional, but I am not. Despite this fact, I have had to overlook everything and make sure everything works out right.

Because I can’t train her myself, I have had to enrol her to classes so she can learn presentation.

“I am doing everything and it is overwhelming being a parent and a manager at the same time,” she tells Spice, adding that she is currently in search of a manager outside the family setting to help run things.

Mama’s guidance

Ever since rapper Ohms Law Montana joined the music industry, his mother has been his manager and according to the So Fly hitmaker, she (his mother) has always worked for his good. Not without the once in a while conflicts, which they always solve.

He says, “Sometimes we disagree on content and lyrics, but at the end of the day, she gets that its art, and gives me the creative space that I need.

Also the entertainment life style, sometimes you have to go to parties, but her ‘mum instincts’ always kick in.

But over the time, I have learnt to be responsible so that she doesn’t worry too much.”

Some of the most successful businesses in the world are family run, believes Vincent Omondi, brother and current manager to musician Winyo.

Formerly managed by Ketebul Music, Vincent took over this position about two years ago, out of emotional commitment and wanting the best for his brother.

“It starts from a trustworthy level and a well built bond. Like in our case, there is no written contract.

We are simply a family that means well to one another. One challenge that I can point out is the thin line between family and business, and sometimes it is hard to separate the two.

So, there has to be a lot of discipline in controlling the artiste. It is very important that business gets done,” says Vincent.

He adds, “Also as family, no disagreement is ever permanent. One tip that I can give to any family in the same line, is that when it comes to working, don’t think the family understands that you are in it for business.

Don’t be very forgiving when people don’t do their part. There should be consequences for such.” 

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