The commercialization of music did not come until the turn of the 19th century, when people thought to press records for the public’s consumption in the privacy of their own homes. Prior to that, Thomas Edison’s phonograph, invented in 1877, led the charge in music private consumption. Before then, music could only be listened to on radio stations, dances and music halls. One local company that has sought to bring entertainers to the spotlight is Elevam Management Firm, a new player in the game which seeks to bring structure to Botswana’s industry.
With an abundance of talent but no medium or representation for them nor business skill, Elevam founders Thobo Kerekang and Oteng Frank suggest that this niche should be explored to its potential.
Venture capitalist at The Atom Factory and now Head of Culture at streaming service Spotify gave startling statistics on this front. His observation of his artists’ growth when he was their manager validates the power of social media. Hip Hop artist Eve whom he managed since she was 19, took seven to eight years to reach global superstardom while Lady Gaga – the most followed celebrity globally – took 18 months thanks to their proactive embrace of brand building through technology. His latest signee pop star Meghan Trainor in contrast, took an even mind blowing 90 days to reach global superstardom. This speaks to the climate Elevam aspires to operate in where talents are easy to break into the industry but quick to fizzle out without a machine behind them to make their presence ubiquitous in pop culture.
On being questioned about how they differentiated themselves from other companies, the founders noted: “This is a team with a diverse skill share in administration, branding, business and legal. The client focuses on their core duties and we take care of the rest.” As proved countless times, talent can be great but the business should be more sophisticated in order to do more than sustain the individual. In this state above mere sustenance, their welfare should be taken care of so they can have the mental fortitude, space, comfort and environment conducive to solely developing their work.
Elevam has also taken to spread its tentacles across sports and entertainment, signing diverse talents such as globally recognized athletes Nijel Amos and Isaac Makwala, Hip Hop Artist Frost, TV presenter and radio host Reagile “Rea” Kopi, and club DJ and artist Casper the DJ. With this pool of artists who have varying degrees of social currency, it is unlikely that Elevam will strike out. “It’s not about established people per se, even unearthed talent, as long as there is value creation potential. ”They also revealed when asked about what went into picking their signed talent: “In as much as one has to be talented we have to share the same vision and be equally driven”.
Quality Control, a record label founded in Atlanta, Georgia, houses artists such as Migos, Lil Yachty Lil Baby, Steflon Don and many others was established in 2013 by Kevin Coach K Lee and Pierre Thomas. The founders condemned the hoarding of information that would help them make better decisions in growing their company by peers in the industry during the lean years. In a radio interview, Elevam pointed how they took time to do research before they went public.
There are great examples of management that take artists to another plateau. Lerato “T-Lee” Moiloa of Bridge Entertainment was instrumental in transforming Cassper Nyovest from D-list industry workhorse to global superstar. Here at home Zenzele Hirschfield most recently masterminded the national takeover of Hip Hop artists BanT and Veezo on stages and line-ups across all types of events. What these managers have in common is the acute knowledge of the business and extensive ties to industry players as well as the ability to reach into regional markets.