Breaking into the limelight for many is a lot of hard work. There are so many factors to be considered, financial needs to be met and a lot of networking to do. But that’s only the beginning.
It has proven to be even more difficult staying relevant in spaces like music and entertainment, and many times, only the people who are exceptional, or who are most popular get to reap what they deserve from the system.
Those who simply just create art and exist do not get as much from the system as they should. And it is issues like these that have made Stephanie Okocha wish that there was more structure to the creative industry in Nigeria so that everyone gets the flowers they deserve.
Stephanie has spent a good number of years contributing to the growth of Nigerian music across the globe. One of her clients at Panda Entertainment, Tempoe, is the magic behind CKay’s international hit record ‘Love Nwantiti’’s production and a lot of other global blockbuster songs.
Before now, she has been actively behind important Afrobeats culture gatherings like the Gidi Culture Festival, Panda Live In Concert and a couple others, and she has worked with uber-talented industry faces including YCee, Timaya, WurlD, Reminisce, Finito and Uche Odoh.
“We built Panda Entertainment to be a 360 label services and publishing company that caters to the needs of both budding and prominent acts alike,” she stated while describing the goal of the creative outfit to Itty Okim in this edition of our Women’s Month Special.
“We pride ourselves in working with talents from incubation and helping them reach their full potential.”
Still, even beyond rewards and recognitions, Stephanie wants the industry to treat songwriters, producers and other roles asides artistes in the music industry better. This is why she is working towards creating a better perception for creators in these roles.
We chat about these and more in this piece which has been edited for length and clarity.
Did you always want to work in music? How did it happen?
Yes I did. Initially, I wanted to be an artiste (laughs). There’s even a song online, but I changed my mind after working as a runner in my final year at Caleb University for one of your current favourite artists back in 2013/2014. About a year later, I saw a job vacancy online. A creative agency was looking for a Talent Strategist. I applied, got the job and the rest is history.
What major challenges have you faced so far working in Nigerian entertainment?
Let’s see; from incompetence, to lack of discipline, to unnecessary discrimination, to condescension, disrespect and a couple others.
What’s something you would wish to change about Nigeria’s creative scene?
Firstly, I feel the industry needs better structure. Creators like producers and songwriters need to be better perceived or seen and even treated. Inclusion [diversity] can also be better worked on, I believe.
How has it been working with Tempoe?
I would say complicated, just like most things in life. But Tempoe sure knows what he wants and he works towards it as much as he should. So that’s a major plus.
What were your first thoughts when Asa sent the sue letter for Joeboy’s “Contour”?
I definitely found it funny, above every other emotion I felt. That’s all (laughs).
“Creators like producers and songwriters need to be better perceived or seen and even treated.”
Do you have plans to work in spaces outside music?
Oh, you bet! I have my eyes on film. I’d like to create movies and television shows of my own in future.
What do you do for fun?
I watch movies, try out new restaurants, hang out with my friends, and go shopping.
What would you call the best part of being a woman in music?
I absolutely enjoy breaking boundaries with my fellow women.