By COLLINS IKENNA
It is most likely that nobody knows more of the workings of the Nigerian music industry than Chief Tony Okoroji, the no nonsense Chairman of COSON and celebrated former President of PMAN. The renowned songwriter, performer, author and copyright maestro was for many years a sought after music producer and Artiste & Repertoire Manager for EMI, the big international recording conglomerate.
Said Okoroji, “I have spent a life time in the music industry. I have seen talents surge and talents disappear. I have seen labels take center stage and suddenly melt away. I have witnessed the industry through the era of the black vinyl, the music cassette and the compact disc. I saw the rise and fall of Alaba. I am presently in the thick of getting the industry to master the digital age with the internet and mobile technology playing significant roles in music distribution as downloads, streaming, CRBT, etc. take over and establish themselves as the new method of passing the ball. I know the nuts and bolts.”
Chief Okoroji who has also devoted a lifetime to the fight for the rights of musicians and other creative people across Africa, has for several months been retooling TOPS, his entertainment company involved in production, promotion, distribution, publishing and top class events organization. The man who made PMAN a house-hold name, turned COSON into a multi-million naira organization, conceived and launched the razzle-dazzle Nigerian Music Awards, Africa’s first notable entertainment award event that attracted presidents, ministers, ambassadors and stars from around the world is ready to make another big statement. He is set for a revolution in the Nigerian entertainment industry with an outstanding group of young first class talents he has painstakingly assembled.
Says Chief Okoroji, “I must salute all the young artistes, producers and labels that have in recent years kept Nigerian music representing across the continent and beyond. My job over the years has been to make sure that this crop of creative Nigerians gets the recognition they deserve, their rights respected and that they earn commensurate income for their sweat. In the process, I have met many uniquely talented young artistes who are totally frustrated because nobody seems to have the time to even listen to them or offer them a chance to showcase what they have got. I certainly cannot take care of everyone but I can give hope to some.
“Despite my mad schedule, in the last six months, I have spent practically every weekend in the recording studio working with an incredible crop of young Nigerian songwriters, singers and producers. I am in the trenches with them imparting the professional skills and values they need to rise to the top. Each of them has become a member of the TOPS family, a special family that goes for only the best. I am determined to turn TOPS into a unique 360 degrees hit factory offering hope to those who had no hope and taking them to the top. We will touch every facet of entertainment in a different style and touch the lives of people. That ought to be the legacy I leave for an industry that I love with all my heart”