HOW DSR RECORDS SET TO TAKE OVER NIGERIA’S MUSIC INDUSTRY- Don Nweke, DSR Label Boss
by Oki Samson
Chief Don Sylvester Nweke, Founder/CEO Don Sylvester Records
The Nigerian Music Industry over the years has grown to become very vibrant and rich with record labels projecting young and talented artists whom are bringing home International awards and deals.
The same success story is set to be said about Don Sylvester Records (DSR); a new musical recording label and an entertainment outfit that started operation last year 2017 in the mega city of Lagos.
In a recent exclusive interview conducted Oki Samson of Trek Africa Magazine with the founder and Chief executive officer of DSR, Comrade Sylvester Nweke at the label’s office in Anthony village, Lagos. Mr. Nweke who is also, the director diaspora (Lagos state) National youth council of Nigeria, South east zone spoke passionately about the giant steps the record label set to embark on to projects Nigerian new Artists for stardom, corporate endorsement and empowers them to become a role model to other youths.
Onlike most record labels where there is unending squabbles between artists and their record labels after a big hits by the artists the DSR Boss stated that, “there is a proper structure already by our resourceful management team to checkmate any artists excesses when they become big stars” he declared.
Trek Africa: Talking about Don Silver Records, can you give us more background about the record label.
DSR: Don Silver Records is a record label and we started last year although I have had this idea like Five (5) years ago but there was no fund to start it so, last year to the glory of God we had enough fund and we started it and we have been making wave. The record label was born out of the need to serves as an empowerment platform to the youth because I’m also the director in diaspora for all the South-East in Lagos and for all the National Youth Council so we are doing this record label also to empower youth and to make sure that some youth that have talents, can be empowered to showcase their talents.
Trek Africa: We understand that Nigeria is a place where some record labels just come to get money from artists and disappear, tell us what makes DSR Records different?
DSR: When I was introducing myself earlier, I said I’m the EZE NDI IGBO of this community so, if you know what it means, it means a king of the Igbos and king of the igbos is never a poor man so we are not just scratching; we’re coming into the industry with Mega money, I don’t even see money that the artist have that they can give us. we are just trying to help the youths, we are millionaires already. We’ve something on ground so DSR is going to be one of the best and if you look at our flier, you can see our logo and you can see this is not ordinary thing you see anywhere so it’s a touch of class. In fact, we even screen the kind of artists we sign we don’t just sign anyhow artist but for the fact that we still want to help some youths that’s why we accommodate a lot of people and if you watch our artists, you will see that these are people that ordinarily they cannot make any record label but we are just trying to bring them in and help them so there is no way we can take their money because there is no money out there; we are the ones spending our money.
Trek Africa: As an entertainment outfit, what areas are you specifically into?
DSR: DSR is not just a record label, it’s a complete entertainment company; we produce good music, we manage artists, we do a lot of things like Jingles, Live band, produce Movies and all other stuff so, it’s not only limited to music. we also produce film and I am a film executive producer.
Don Sylvester Nweke, How DSR Records will take over Nigeria’s music industry
Trek Africa: What’s your take on breach of contract by Artist because of their sudden fame.
DSR: Well what you are saying is a general problem we have in this industry and alot of artists have messed the industry up and that is why you are not seeing a lot of record labels coming up anymore because alot of them have spent their money and didn’t get it back and when the artist blows they start making problem with their labels so its always the labels that loose but in our own situation, one of our mission is that, we want to assist people so we are not even interested in what we are going to get from the artists. we are coming to help the youth so even if the youth blows and decides to forget us we don’t care our blessing cometh from the Lord and not only that we have a good team that checkmate them and we have good managers, producers and a good team to make sure that artists are not going to behave that way.
We put moral lessons in them so we sign people that are God fearing and people that can keep agreement. There is no smoke without fire so, when we want to sign an artist, we sign artists that are just starting and we don’t just give you a one or two years contract, we stretch it to Five (5) years and besides if we sponsor your first music and put it out there and it’s doing well, we will put in more money. Towards that time, you know when you sign an artist; you give him a car, a house and some money so if it’s someone that is going to mess up, very soon those little things you have. Done is going to make him to start misbehaving then you reduce your input on the person.
Trek Africa: How can record labels sustain their business and remain relevance in the Industry?
DSR: Actually there are some people that don’t know anything about managing people or record labels, they are just money bags so they carry their money and invest it wrongly but in our own situation, we already know the in and out of the business. I have been rapping since I was in secondary school and my younger brother also owns a record label and he is doing well while my manager also is someone that has managed a record label and failed and some of our producers have been working before for other labels which failed so I don’t think the history can repeat themselves but what actually happens to record labels is that most of them don’t have money and they depend maybe on sponsors and all that so when they don’t bring money the record label must go down and if a sponsor is investing in your artist and he noticed the artist is not good or singing well he cannot put his money any longer.
When a record label lacks money and is just depending on sponsors, such label will fail but ours is not like that because, we’ve other business we are doing and we’ve been producing films and we know how to even market our music and most of us are singing, my producer is a singer and a rap star the managers and other team members are also singing so we can even survive on our own so the thing is that what makes the labels to go down is because they don’t have enough funds before they start it and they engaged on contracts that are enormous hoping that they would have sponsors and all those things and when those things are not forthcoming they crash. Imagine a record label with hundred million naira and that record label go to buy a Bentley, Bentley is how much? So when you buy Bentley you have already spent half of the budget already then what will remain is small and you cannot manage artists with those ones and you know artists; don’t just blow with one, two or three songs because it’s a constant thing that takes effort but we have packaged ourselves and planned very well. Most of the political parties have come to us now and we are doing their Jingles. We also come down to manage events like weddings, traditional marriage some birthday events and all those stuffs so there is no way we can fail.
DSR Records Boss, Chief Sylvester Nweke
Trek Africa: Have you officially signed any artist, if yes how many are they?
DSR: We’ve not signed any particular artist because we are still watching them but we have some people that are on the line because, they are already using our studio and we are already promoting them and taking them to shows and for the list of artists we have Dare 90s,Kay west, Lynxx Nwueba, Donald, Tyler and myself then, if you come to the east we have like Fifteen (15) people waiting on the line, we are doing their video’s even without signing them with artists such as DON CHURRY,K LARGE, JAY RU etc.
We’re just taking it little by little and making videos for them free of charge, no record label will do that for you but we are doing that in trying to see the best in you then when we see the best in you and other potential characters we will now give you the endorsement.
Trek Africa: when an artist is signed into a record label, what are the things the artist benefits after he or she has been signed
DSR: when an artist is signed on DSR such an artist get a car, monthly allowance, an apartment and we take them outing together and to attend club tours together and they use the studio for free and anyone that does the nice song will get a free video so there is a lot of benefits to enjoy in it but this thing is a two way thing, I wash your hand you wash my hand so, if I should give you an apartment, a car and also be paying you every month you should also be working hard so that I can be making the money and I can be able to pay for other people. Some record labels normally sign one artist but our own is not like that, we can sign as many as possible because we have the money to spend on them.
Trek Africa: Do you think the entertainment industry needs the government in any way to get bigger?
DSR:Every entertainment sector that excels in the world is been sponsored by government but in Nigeria is not like that. If you see the film that is trending now BLACK PANTHER; If you know how much grant the government give them and if you see some subsidies the government gives them to be able to make that movie you will be surprised but in Nigeria nobody sponsors you. I make films and use my money sometimes within the ranges of Five (5) million, Three (3) million and Ten (10) million naira depending on the type of film without any assistance from government, I can tell you about three films that I have produced now with about 15 million without getting any penny from it so, how can government help. Even if government claims that they help in fighting piracy, they can’t fight piracy. When I called some Government agencies that they were showing my film in Ghana they said it’s not under their jurisdiction.
The government is not helping anybody and I thank God for that because this keeps everybody on their toes and this makes Nigerian youths to work hard, for somebody waking up to say Nigerian youths are lazy, well maybe because our President has been sick before so maybe it affected his sense of thinking.
Trek Africa: In terms of concentration how do you manage them because artists require a lot of concentration?
DSR: At DSR Records each artists would have one manager and we have our team that does all their features such as their engagement, schedule and everything just like managing a company with many workers.
Trek Africa: since this record label is just a year old and it’s this big already so how do you see the label in 5 years time?
DSR: Five years is too far, I’m telling you that before the end of this year you won’t believe what you will be hearing about us. We are coming to take over and change the game, we are changers because we are not just coming like every other hungry record label that one to come and feed from musicians. We are coming to help and empower people so we know how to do it. in every business you have your inspirations and ideas and holy spirit whispers to you on what to do and what not to do to capture the market. For example people go to other made artists to ask them for collaboration but I always tell my staff that Davido did not start today, he has been working hard and he made himself Davido. Master craft that is a producer did not just emerge from somewhere, he has been working hard to become who he is today. So imagine now that we are DON SILVESTER records and we begin to go and look for people that have made it already that means we don’t even know what we are carrying, what we are Carrying is bigger than what is existing there already so I give you one year and people will be shouting what is going on because we are taking over. we have media relationship, the money for publications we have it too so we are okay.
Trek Africa: let me ask you because I understand you need to work on your artists and become better but as an experienced entertainment person and artist, do you think it’s not good for an artist who is coming up to feature someone like Tuface to blow?
DSR: It’s only when you don’t have a good market that you begin to look for marketers or people to market you. When you are packaged it’s those people that will come to you, we stay here and banks come here to tell us to come and open an account with them, if we are not good they will not come. So what we are saying is that we are already a force in terms of money we have it and we have people that can do great music and we have the best producer in the house and the best equipments. So we great things to make music. Even in our studio we do the mastering and mixing when other people go to another place to do the mixing. We are doing everything so now when we cook all this music very well and bring it to the market, my brother if you see good soup you will know that a lot of money has gone into it and you will take it. So if you produce good music you don’t need to collabo with anybody. We don’t need to partner with anybody so an artist does not need a bigger artist to blow what you need is media, publicity and money to put your music out there. a lot of top artists out there whom I won’t mention their name are asking us to sign them but I tell them but you have a record label and they say no they are done with them.
Trek Africa: since you are an artist yourself are there any artists you have worked with in time past?
DSR: actually when I was in school the plantation boys where in Enugu that time so one of them BLACK FACE would come that time and we would rap in ESUTH awards night but as for now I’ve not made any music with them because when I left the system I started chasing money now I have gotten the money and I want to go into music when they see our music out there they would be the one to come and ask us for collaboration because the normal thing is that you have to go and pay them money for you to collaborate with them to help you push but how can they push us. Very soon we will be in all the media.
Trek Africa: you mentioned earlier that you are also into film production, have there been any film you have produced or you are just trying to start
DSR: I have produced a lot of films and if you go to YouTube you will find a lot of my films there. My films are really trending on DSTV such as the VIRGIN BRIDE, WAITING TO EXCEL etc. all my films are touch of class.
I believe in doing a great work and let the market sell it. The only thing is that before, DSTV used to buy film in dollars but they are buying in naira now so if you spend your money now into films you can’t get your money back that’s why we are even going into music but I love films because it’s an intellectual property so even in 20 Years you can still sell it. At the moment, there is one company I want to sue in Ghana because they are airing my film without buying it. I did not sell my film to them and I don’t know how they got it. I was here and someone called me in Ghana that they are watching me o, because in every film I produce I also act in it so when people see me they call me to ask if I am now acting and I tell them that I am not just acting in the movie they saw me in, I am the owner. So they said one UTV in Ghana are showing it and I wonder who sold it to them because I never sold anything to them. And I called some lawyers in Ghana and they are asking me to give them 3 thousand dollars, how much is the film that I will give them 3 thousand dollars. ROCK TV is also showing my movie in Spain and I did not sell my film to them but when I called one of my friends he said maybe they got subtitle from Dstv.
Trek Africa: how do you manage artists when it comes to the situation of one artist been successful than the other under your record label or an artist claiming that another artist stole his song because this happens a lot in the music industry just like the issue of the plantation boys
DSR: all of us are born equal but we are not equal whether you like it or not so talents are different, in a place where we have like 4 to 5 artists and one is doing very well while the other isn’t so the one that is doing well will want to be alone so that he Will reap the fruit of his Labour while the ones that are not doing well will be trying to steal their songs so it’s a normal thing. So everybody cannot be equal.
and there are some people that can sing very well just like an artist I met in which, the guy can sing very well and he told me that Phyno and flavour are small boys to him that he is the master and when you listen to him you will notice that the guy can sing more than them but I wanted to sign him but he was giving me some conditions then I realized why he is still where he is so character also comes to play in this business and grace is the main thing. You can see someone who sings well but won’t see anyone to sign him then but when you have grace you succeed. A lot of companies have come to partner with us because they have seen what we are doing. More are still coming.
Trek Africa: as a man in business who is going to be employing and managing so many artists and this young people have been helping Nigeria all over the world such as Wizkid who is now a global star and Davido who is really doing great for himself but based on the viral comment by our president released some few days ago about Nigerian youths been lazy and just want free money, do you think Nigerian youths are truly lazy?
DSR: you can see I am a youth and also a youth coordinator, I wish I can show you my ID card as a youth director in Diaspora and all the south east youths in Lagos here by national youth council. Nigerian youths are not lazy, the people that are lazy are our leaders. When I heard that comment, I was asking myself if I am still in Nigeria that somebody should Google my location to know whether the president is talking about the youths because I am a youth and I am not lazy, I have been young and now I am getting to matured age, neither have I seen or eaten oil money, I have been hearing about subsidy and all the fuel I use I buy it. There is no free money. NEPA brought 40 thousand naira Bill for me now and I have been paying it and not the president so youths are not benefiting anything from Nigeria in fact sometimes I wonder if there is a problem with us because nobody benefits anything from government because government is just running business on their own and embezzling money on their own and when you start talking about what they do they start saying you are lazy. Any youth that has made it in Nigeria is a self made millionaire.
I always tell people I meet that GET RICH OR DIE TRYING because if you meet your family poor, it’s a destiny but if you allow them to be poor that’s when it becomes a disgrace. No Nigerian youths that is successful today has any government enhancement. So I don’t see why they should say that, it’s because we have not carried arms and start telling them that their time has expired and they should leave the office because we the youths are the ones that are meant to be president and rulers of this country but our problems is that all these leaders have been in power for a long time and they are still in power today and they are trying to intimidate us by making such comments so when you say youths are lazy and we start to come and challenge you that we are not lazy, the next thing is that you will start to chase us with police but we don’t care and as far as I am concerned youths are not benefiting anything from the government. If you are going to school you are paying with your money. In fact for me in Nigeria I don’t know there is a government.
So everyone is on their own and the youths of Nigeria are working very hard, go. Outside Nigeria and see what youths are doing without government? I built the best house in my village and people where asking if I was working with government, I said why and they said it’s only in government you can get that Money and I told them to go and think twice. I worked with Chinese company for 8 years and made so much money, I also worked with a South Korean company and I retired in all these companies as a general manager.
As a youth if I tell you my age you will laugh .I retired from all those business because I don’t want to work for anybody again I want to work for myself so and so many youths out there are doing the Same without any benefit from the government. I don’t know why it’s like that but we all know nobody wants to die in Nigeria so nobody is willing to say the truth or ask the government questions but as far as I’m concerned there is no government in Nigeria. I pay my bills such as my Nepa Bill, hospital Bill and my children school fees and my house rent, anything I own in Nigeria I got it myself and I still pay tax on top of it to the government.