MYOB: COBHAMS ASUQUO


Although he is physically impaired, Cobhams Asuquo is one of Nigeria’s leading music producers and song writers of his generation. He set up his recording facility in 2006, and is currently representing himself, Bez Idakula and Stan Iyke. He was also responsible for Aşa's highly acclaimed international album ASA and has been mentioned on many artists' sleeve credits as producer and writer.

Where did it all start for you as a producer, music director and as an entrepreneur?
I think it started for me as a 6-year-old kid growing up in the barracks buffing my cheeks to play the 12 bad blues. I always wanted to make music but I didn’t have access to the kinds of instruments I needed to play music with so I made music with everything around me. I would drum on my body and puff my cheeks, I would lock myself up in the bathroom and whistle because I loved the reverberating effect. It progressed from then on to making music in the block I lived. I would organise a concert and people would come out to be a part of the concert. I also started to play for my church and a small time jazz when I turned 14, to sleeping at studios and dreaming to owning one
At what point did you cross over to being a business man in the music industry?
I crossed over when I realized that no matter how much talent you have, to sustain your passion, you need to translate it into a business. I made music because I enjoyed music. If you could take me to a good studio, I would make music just for that reason. If you bought me a snack while I was working, I would make music for you but I realized it was not sustainable and that in order to keep it going and make it count, I had to get people to pay for my services as a musician. I think I began to see like a certain kind of value for the music I was creating.  

Can you tell us about your first music deal where you actually made money?
My first ever music deal… I had co-produced an album for a church which I worked on with my music instructor from primary school. I was really excited about the project and when I was done and about to go home, I think he paid me N3,000. I was super excited! I just couldn’t believe it! It showed me that I could turn my talent into a business.
Source: Cobhams Asuquo Twitter

Tell us about what C.A.M. P is doing now
Essentially we discover, develop and nurture artistes. We have been able to do that since 2008; and we have put out a number of albums and developed a lot of artistes. Newsworthy is Bez of course and we are about to put out a 2nd album. He’s gotten mentions from Boston Globe, Rolling Stone and a couple of other notable media points. We are excited about that and we are expanding in terms of creating content outside of music.


Can you talk about the discipline of developing and nurturing talent?
One of the things you would struggle with as a creative person is the culture of building and maintaining discipline; which is the difference between successful creatives and creatives who struggle. For creative people who struggle, it is not that they don’t know how to, but it is a problem of getting up to do it which requires disciple. As a creative person you live in your own little bubble but when you don’t get things done you’re just a dreamer and those dreams can’t come to reality if you don’t put in the commensurate work. For instance, as a young man I spent my nights working on music under extreme conditions because of the belief. Nobody knows what’s in your head but the disciple to put in the work is what interpretes what’s in your head.

What is C.A.M.P into now as the business evolves?
C.A.M.P is at a pivotal point in its existence, that it might lose its current name but not in the idea of what it stands for. When it started, it was driven solely by passion. I had come out of school and made some money. I felt the natural thing to do was to start a business. We started a business based on passion and not on proper business structure and principles. When you exercise your talent which is what you know how to do, you get lucky and make a ton of money. You would however quickly realise you don’t have the structure and processes to sustain the business and money which is a very dangerous place to be.
To educate readers, what can they learn?
I would advice anyone turning their talent into a business to come up with a business plan.  If you don’t know how, you need to find people who are vast in helping to build structures and processes. You cannot run a business no matter how talented you are if you do not have structures and processes in place. I think this is something that became a learning curve for us when we were putting structures in place for a sustainable business model. Your talent is often tied to your time and when your business is tied to your time, it means that when you are not there your business cannot sustain itself. In order to build a business it has to be self-sustaining. In order for that to happen it has to get to a point where the knowledge and everything that you have is passed on. In order for that to happen, there has to be processes, which is what happens in any part of the world. Making money is great when you turn your talent into money making ventures. What is more important is being able to sustain your inflow, turn it around and invest.
Source: cobhamsasuquo.com


What are deliberate moves to turn talent to profit?
The first is value your talent. The value you place on your talent has everything to do with the premium you place on what you do. Until you put a premium on what you do, you might not be able to price it properly. If you can’t price it properly you can’t demand your due from your clients. To value your talent, you must be honest, you must be able to do what you say you can do. With that truth, you need to understand the value of what you can do in the market you are about to operate in. You also need to understand the going rate and an average price in the market.

As a talented person what impact can you make in the world?
Money is a byproduct of your talent. I think what happens as people connect with the impact of your talent is getting a reward with money and recognition. The thing to concentrate on is how to meet a need. What drove me into music was the desire to meet a need, the desire to create a certain standard of music/production in Nigeria.

Going beyond limitations, what do people need to succeed?
I would say you are what you think. If you think you can go out to do exploits and big things, then that is exactly what you are going do. I have a very interesting background; I grew up in the military cantonment and I have friends who are not necessarily in the space that I desired as a child to find myself in. I realized what was going to make that different for me was my mind and perception. I would say to anyone struggling with the need to get up and do something it wouldn’t happen if you don’t get up. Try it out and believe… be positive and always remember you are what you think. The things you call limitations are not necessarily the real limitations, the real limitation is really your mind. I am a real testament to that. Everything I am today is everything I had hoped I would become. The things I intend to be in the future are the things that I dream about today. My mind is pretty much the house where it happens.

3 valuable tips for entrepreneurs
1.    Start a business because you want to meet a need
2.    Have the discipline to see it through. It can get frustrating no matter the business but you need the discipline to see it through
3.    Set up the structures and processes to make your business outlive you from the start. It’s one thing to know how to do it, it’s another thing to realise that you won’t always be the for it to be done. From mentoring, training and whatever it takes make sure you are setting up your business to outlive you



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2 comments:

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