The KSA memoir: How I run 20 other companies with Music + Untold story of KSA the CEO

KSA during a board meeting with some of his directors 

“Even
at 60, quitting music is not something I have considered.  It is unimaginable, as I believe it is in my
genes.  Without it, I will be nothing, so
I have decided to continue until my body stops carrying me or my fans say they
have had enough of me.  That is not
happening yet because I still get invited to play at very big parties; and
regularly too.  Many of the people I now
play for were children, at whose christening ceremonies I performed.  Now, they invite me to play at their wedding
ceremonies or christening of their own children.  Can I turn them down?  That is inconceivable because music is my
business, at least that for which I am readily associated.

Nearly
all my businesses are woven around the name King Sunny Ade and
His African Beats
.  I avoid
dabbling into businesses I know little about unless there are good people to
run them for me.  Such people are needed
because I am always on the road.  That is
why my best known investments are in music. 
I ran a club, Ariya Night Club, for 20 years
before I wound it up in 2003.  I closed
it because it had become too small for the crowd I attracted when I played
there.  Patrons had difficulties parking
their cars in safe places.  And because a
lot of miscreants were streaming in, they started vandalizing cars and
committing all kinds of theft.  When I
was playing there, I usually spent almost half the money I made lighting up the
area and providing security so that patrons’ cars could be protected.  It was just no longer profitable to continue
entertaining my fans there. After I stopped, other bands started using the
place, but each time they played, they left blood on the walls from all manners
of brawls.  Yet, those to whom I
entrusted the running of the place hid the truth from me by diligently cleaning
up the place before my arrival. It was when I employed someone to report to me
that I realized that armed policemen were coming to arrest people inside the
club and they once shot a man in the leg.
KSA with President Olusegun Obasanjo (GCON)


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KSA the CEO…
Aside
from the club, I also run a recording company, SIGMA Disc, and I am
involved in record distribution.  Under KSA
Holdings
, I own a musical equipment leasing concern.  Outside music, I am into a few other
things.  One of these is
construction.  I have handled road and
house building contracts, using qualified firms to execute the jobs for
me.  During the regime of General
Ibrahim Babangida
, I won contracts to build some of the political party
offices.  Recently, I have won building
jobs in Ogun and Kebbi States. As a matter of fact, I am currently handling one for
Lagos State at Oko-Oba Housing Estate
Phase III
. Ados Nig. Ltd is into contracting works, supplies and
maintenance.  It is also into
distribution of GLO products.
Distinct Associates Ltd, where I have a lion
share deals with contracts and mainly into broadcasting equipment
installations, supplies of recording studios and maintenance.
KSA now runs a radio station (With him is Dr. Yemi Farounbi & Dr. Seye Kehinde)
I
also install masts, transmitters and street lights.  At the moment, my firm is working in five or
six villages in Ondo State.  We have built masts in Ondo State and we are also doing so in Osun.  We hope to build in Oyo State soon.  In addition, I have handled contracts awarded
by banks.  Aside from these, I have
interest in oil exploration. Dr. Dokpesi, an expert in marine
matters, is my partner in this venture. 
But all these have no chance of luring me away from music.  Retirement does not feature in my plans
because there are more important things like my grandchildren and my mother,
who is still strong at 110 (In 2006)
All
along I had seen that musicians rely mainly on their works which depend on the
companies they recorded for.  This means
if your record company says your record did not sell, you don’t make any money.  This also means you do not earn royalties to
supplement your live shows. It is for this reason that many musicians hardly
make money in spite of their popularity. 
As I became more experienced in music, I felt there could be a way to
marry music and business.  That I could
still play my music and at the same time engage in profitable business.  At the time, I did not know I was sowing the
seed of a big company which King Sunny Ade Organization eventually
became.
KSA with ex-IG, Sunday Ehindero
KSA the business man…
I
started with a real organizational structure. 
I had a booking manager, a Public Relations Officer (PRO), a secretary
and a cashier.  And I was the
chairman/Managing Director and leader of the band.  I now moved the leader of the band to the
band.  The business of the band is under
me as the Managing Director. And then I went to the professionals.  I took Chief Gani Fawehinmi to be my
lawyer on the legal side.  I took Dr.
Ajayi,
may God rest his soul, the proprietor of the now Ajayi Memorial Hospital
to take care of health.  I asked one
friend of mine, he is my Godfather, to be my management consultant.
Then
for the office, I rented a house which I converted to offices.  It starts from the receptionist who will
direct you to who to see.  From the
reception, you move to the waiting room. 
The music side of it is on the band which has a band manager, drivers,
sound engineers, maintenance officers, music co-coordinators and artiste
managers.  On the band itself, King
Sunny Ade
and the African Beats is a company which manages the band,
because what is coming from the band is not the music alone: you have the live
shows, the recordings, concerts, TV shows, etc. 
The company manages their works but the band itself manages its own
interests.
KSA with  National leader of APC, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu 
In
the organization, I believe that the band should manage its affairs.  The business side of it has recordings,
royalties and performance fees.  For
international tours, the band cannot handle it alone.  I am fully represented in the band as the
band leader and King Sunny Ade and the African Beats is a member of King Sunny Ade Organization.
In
the organization, we have so many companies – Atom Plant; even Atom
Plant
has Atom Farms, Atom Palm oil, Atom Park; then we have Master
Disc
and Sigma Disc.  Why we have Master
Disc
and Sigma Disc is because one handles local while anything foreign
goes to Master Disc.  Every
recording we make here; we record here, print here and market here.  But if it is foreign, like the ones we record
abroad, they would record it there and we will import it here.  We can also make an exchange; we will export
what we have to Master Disc while they import ours at Sigma Disc.
KSA…The Musician who is a CEO
In
doing these, I circled KSA where we have an arrow coming
out from that circle, which is Ariya Night Club where we play every
Friday.  And the management of Ariya
Night Club
is separate but fully represented in the organization.  There are different companies that invested
in the night club. Then I added another arrow where the recording company can
record King Sunny Ade and other artistes.  It is not the business of King
Sunny Ade
but that of King Sunny Ade organization through
a company that is doing that—Atom Records.
Then, another arrow came, King Sunny Ade Farms which has nothing to do with
music or recordings but has to stand on its own as a company.  Then we have other companies with distinct
associates.  They have nothing to do with
King Sunny Ade Organization but have much to do with the Managing
Director of King Sunny Ade Organization.  The Managing Director of King Sunny Ade Organization is an investor in the organization and
King Sunny Ade now invested in Distinct Associates as a lion
shareholder with the money of the organization. 
So we must see where the money goes.
KSA during a board meeting with some of his directors 
Another
one is ADOS Nigeria Ltd.  This
is into contracting works, supplies and maintenance.  Also, broadcasting equipment supplies and installations.  Then it has a recording studio not a
recording label.  Within that, they have
distributorship on Glo network.  So when they don’t have contract, the Glo transaction will sustain it.  If this one doesn’t have, the studio will
have.
When
I am sitting on the board of directors, I am not a musician; I am a
businessman.  Each company has its own
structure. Like Ados Company, it has the carpentry section, the plumbing
section, painting section, etc.  Most of
these have field offices – with foremen and supervisors.  The office itself has a managing director,
general manager, secretary, etc.  They
have to see that the company pays its way. 
All I want to see is how my investment grows.
KSA….A Greatness foretold
How I run my music
band…
Then
we have small companies that take care of special needs.  When the band is going out, for instance, it
does not have instruments on its own – because the staffs are co-operative
members.  They are not investors.  When they finish a show, they are given their
dues.  But we provide them with uniforms,
transportation, welfare etc.  A company
takes care of the instruments, the maintenance and replacement to ensure smooth
operation.  It is called Studio
Solution
.  And King Sunny Ade and his African Beats is just one of its clients.
The
band also needs a generator which has to have people for maintenance and
servicing among others.  For this, we
have MIGs, Music and Instrument Generators. 
So anytime the generator is going to be used for a show we have to pay
for it.  The moment you pay the band for
a show, we pay deposit for the instruments, deposit for generators, deposit for
trucks and deposit for the buses.  That
is the business side of it.
“I also install
masts, transmitters and street lights. 
At the moment, my firm is working in five or six villages in Ondo
State.  We have built masts in Ondo State
and we are also doing so in Osun.  We
hope to build in Oyo State soon.  In
addition, I have handled contracts awarded by banks”.
Now
linking the business and the band, they are not friends.  Anything to do with money between them must
be sorted out.  For instance, if royalty
is due us from Sigma Disc, it will be given to the band which in turn will
give my own share to me.  In our own
office also, we manage all the companies. 
So a percentage is received from the profits of each company to King Sunny Ade Organization.  The point is I am not the all in all.  The registration of KSA Holdings is quite
different from that of Distinct, and different from Sigma
Disc
.  They have their directors,
management and staff separately.
KSA…From Chief Guitarist to Chief Executive Officer
Setting
up the entire companies was not a day’s job. 
We did it gradually. We had the band first.  Initially, I wanted to make it big so that my
fans can appreciate what they have been doing for me.  I soon found out that I was only harming myself
and also the companies.  I had my head
office in Ebute Metta, my recording
company in Ikeja; my label company in
Apapa; Ados in Mushin and my
night club on Ikorodu Road (Yaba).
There
were others in about seven or eight places. 
Every day, I must give one hour to each company.  I had no time to rest.  And one hour is not even enough for each
company.  I saw myself as somebody
dancing in circles. If I have to run to Ikeja, run to this, run to that,
what use is it?  Today, apart from
getting old, I look at it as worthless. 
For I had to ask my friends who are in big business and businessmen and
I found they can run everything from one place.
KSA; The Musician, CEO & Family man 
Why I closed down Ariya Night Club…
The
band was playing at Ariya Night Club every Friday. 
People kept coming but we realized that it really affected the kind of
shows or outing where the band could get more money on a daily basis. We were
stuck in one spot.  In the night club,
apart from the gate fee which 80 percent of the patrons don’t pay, the management
of the night club itself hardly made money. 
If the club is to make money then people must pay at the gate.  People must buy drink.  But in my own case I was using the night club
to keep my fans.  That’s where we meet at
close range.  But the place kept getting
smaller and smaller for the fans.  Again,
the environment around the night club, no matter how bright the light we put in
every part, some hoodlums would go and block my fans under the bridge, or they
would go to another side by the railway crossing to molest them or dispossess
them of their money.  I saw that it was
not secure for my fans anymore – the security of human beings, the fans, their
cars, could no longer be guaranteed.
At
a point, I said I would not play in the night club called Ariya again. But
occasionally other musicians like Atawewe used to play there.  And when they play on a Sunday, by Monday
morning, you would see blood on the floor. But one day police started shooting
in that garden and I closed it down.
Now
the night club was there for two years. 
If I travel abroad, people will just come and do something there – rent
it out for marriage or whatever.  They
won’t tell me and that’s no business.  I
said what we need to do is put offices inside so it doesn’t look like a club
anymore.  Gradually, the management of the
night club went into investments. They are the ones in charge of the whole
building now.  Each company that has an
office there pays rent to the management.
KSA; The Musician, CEO & Family man 
The Q CLUB before Ariya…
Before
Ariya,
it was Q Club in Ebute Metta
on Wakeman Street.  Q Club was more or less like a
meeting point.  I have respectable fans
all over the world.  If I’m playing at a
party they feel reluctant to attend especially if they were not invited.  And they do not gate crash because they want
to see Sunny Ade.  So it was at Q
Club
, which I called a meeting point where they could see me.  Once they get their ticket, they are free to
sit anywhere.  They were invited by me
and not somebody I came to play for.  In Q
Club
every ticket holder is a king. 
Some people will come in the night and go from there to their
office.  It was when the space was
becoming too small that I moved to Ariya Night Club
(Excerpts
from the book; KSA: My Life, My Music by
King Sunny Ade. Read ‘My bitter wars with Ebenezer Obey’
tomorrow on this blog
)

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