Bez wants to build African tech for African music

My Life In Tech is placing human faces to a number of the progressive startups, investments, and coverage formations driving the know-how sector throughout Africa.

This week, award-winning musician, Bez Idakula is our topic and we discover his life as an unbiased artist and his journey to establishing an area for music and tech in Africa.

Generally the issues we love discover us early. Music discovered Bez through the bonfire nights that occurred incessantly when he was a boy in Jos. Whereas wooden burned he would sit by his father and study to play the guitar. 

A few years later, Bez Idakula, an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, performed to crowds of 1000’s internationally. 

However earlier than the celebrity, as a scholar at Covenant College, Bez studied Info and Communications Know-how (ICT), and whereas this appeared the most effective time to be bitten by the tech bug, life had different plans for him.

“I bear in mind being in Lagos after leaving uni(sic) with my guitar on my again, on the lookout for locations to play,” he says over the cellphone as we settle into our dialog. 

Lagos was too quick a metropolis for buskers so Bez discovered artsy areas to play like Bogobiri within the coronary heart of Ikoyi, Lagos Island. These had been the times that preceded his document cope with famend Nigerian producer, Cobhams Asuquo.

When Bez speaks of the time spent in Cobhams’ camp, he calls it a hub of creatives. 

On this hub, he met fellow writers, thinkers, and musicians who helped him craft his debut album and made music with him. Areas like this is able to develop into one thing Bez continued to come across at the same time as he performed reveals world wide. 

Certainly one of such areas he cites is Rubber Tracks – an expert recording studio run by American shoe model Converse the place artists may document music without cost and get free sneakers after they had been carried out. He discovered that increasingly more creatives had been making areas for themselves. 

In a world that will sooner stifle their voices, they discovered one another and traded worth, every one serving to the opposite with the sources that they had.

“I wished that type of area,” he says.

In 2019, Bez began Rtist Hub. Combining his experiences with hubs for creatives and his observations of incubators within the tech area, he noticed a mannequin that labored. 

Bez got down to create a hub for artists however unwittingly set in movement what would develop into a wedding of music and tech.

His hub intently mirrored tech hubs as a result of as Bez places it “artists are startups.” And he may simply be onto one thing. In each situations, we have now entities with massive potential unable to fund themselves or get all of the instruments they want. That is the place the hub steps in, with sources and fairly often, funding.

So right here he was, a few years after faculty, three full-length albums below his belt, and Bez was set to supply an area for artists to create freely and get the sources and monetary help they wanted. And for some time, this was all Rtist Hub was – the music.

For a person like Bez, “it’s all about innovation.” From his sound to his enterprise, his concern lies closely with the progressive potential of concepts. Rtist Hub was rightfully offering unbiased artists with a spot the place they might hone their abilities and mature as musicians nevertheless it slowly dawned on Bez that this alone was not sufficient. 

It didn’t really feel adequate to supply the artists with the instruments and area to create after they had been going up towards an business that was not constructed for them to thrive. The objective then modified. Now that there was an area to collaborate, what could possibly be carried out to make the business higher in order that these artists not solely make music however earn a good residing from their arduous work?

Bez arrange a gathering with Bosun Tijani, founding father of famed Nigerian incubation area CCHub. The premise of this assembly was that there have been many points with the Nigerian music business; from a scarcity of construction to a scarcity of schooling on the enterprise of the business. There wanted to be an area the place folks may create progressive options to those issues – now this was the tech.

Following this assembly, it grew to become crucial for Rtist Hub to have a reputation that correctly conveyed its new mission – an area for music and for tech. 

On the agenda for the newly-minted Music and Tech Area (MATS) was the Music-Tech Innovation Problem. The problem sought to deal with 4 key areas the place tech may clear up the music business’s wants: Occasion Administration, Label Administration, Artist Administration, and Authorized Advisory for Artists. 

With every of those highlighted areas, Music and Tech Area goals to ascertain a marketplace for music-tech options. With tales of mismanaged artists or artists signed to draconian offers throughout, Bez highlights that it has develop into more and more vital that we discover tech-powered options to those issues. 

Bez sees himself represented as an artist in every of these classes. 

He admits to the stress that goes into placing on reside reveals – he would know, his annual live performance Bez Reside is sort of the occasion. 

He had spent years as an unbiased artist earlier than briefly signing to a label after which going unbiased once more. In all this time he needed to study concerning the royalties owed to him and the way he may acquire them. 

“There’s a saying that it is best to get a lawyer earlier than you get a supervisor,” he chuckles as he says this understanding that they’re each vital however fairly often the shortage of a lawyer may imply the dying of a profession.

Once we get to the subject of the 5 winners from the simply concluded finale of the problem, Bez says that he’s assured that the chosen options may make nice modifications within the business as we all know it. Every of the winners is anticipated to obtain help and funding from MATS and CCHub.

All the problem – from ideation workshops to the eventual pitch occasion – was deliberate to be bodily however with the appearance of the COVID-19 pandemic, the problem needed to morph right into a digital expertise.

Seeking to the longer term, Bez is engaged on new music to thrill his adoring followers and for MATS, he hopes to assist these options scale and slowly right an business that ought to be method greater than it at the moment is.

In his endless quest for innovation, it’s clear that with Music and Tech Area, Bez Idakula is saying of the African music business, “we make the music, we will make the tech.”