Ayoade Olusegun “KJSheggs” is Nigeria’s first and finest karaoke jockey/host. He is the founder and CEO of Nairoke Entertainment, a Nigerian karaoke company. Segun is also a Crans Montona Forum’s New Leader For Tomorrow and notably, he is the #karaokeking and the leader of the #tongueoutgang.
In an EXCLUSIVE interview with PEP NAIJA, this highly talented and innovative entrepreneur revealed the real reason behind his passion for karaoke, the impact of Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme on his brand, his heritage as well as plans for the karaoke industry in Nigeria. Stay glued. Enjoy reading.
Kindly tell us about your childhood and growing up in Ibadan.
I am an Ibadan ‘boy’ and I’m very proud of my heritage. I was born and bred in Ibadan, the biggest city in West Africa; I also have my family roots there. I had my primary and secondary education in this ancient city, after which I got a degree in Microbiology from University of Ilorin, the better by far institution.
Because my father was a Physics lecturer, I lived most of my formative years in the staff quarters of the Polytechnic of Ibadan . My mother was a also teacher and as you can imagine, my parents value good education so much.
I wanted to be a doctor back then and tried all I could, got into science class, attended after-school lessons, spent extra hours in my daddy’s laboratory, but Chemistry and Physics were not just my thing.
I feel a better career sorting system would have easily placed me in line to study Philosophy or any other related course.
What really brought about the idea of Nairoke Entertainment and what is it about?
I ran an organization called Wakose Academy, which loosely translates to ‘Come, let’s learn’ from 2012 to 2014. The organization was a sandbox for different ideas my brother and I thought of. Sometimes around 2013, my brother sent a Singtrix karaoke machine to try out and see the opportunities around it.
I then called for a karaoke hangout; we had a full house, people had fun the first time but most never really enjoyed it or come back for another experience.
The exposure to the machine therefore got me wondering why karaoke wasn’t mainstream entertainment in Nigeria like in the US or Asian countries even though karaoke was introduced to Nigeria in the late 90s. My research revealed, among other reasons, there were not enough Nigerian karaoke content. This inspired me to start Nairoke (Naija-karaoke) Entertainment so Nigerian karaoke content can be distributed.
Knowing fully well that Nigerians are open to embracing new things that give them maximum enjoyment and fun, how do you plan to ensure Nigerians accept karaoke songs the Naija way?
Without any hard statistics to quote, and solely based on my experience with Nairoke over the past two years, I can estimate that more than 90% of Nigerians do not know what karaoke is and a third or less of those that know have tried to sing. So we are not tackling the market from the stand point of the question; we are educating people about the potential entertainment value of karaoke and simultaneously introducing Nigerian content to them.
We focus on taking karaoke to more audiences, because we know karaoke is experiential; we’re exposing Nigerian content to them as the gold standard for fun.
You’re a beneficiary of Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme, how do you intend to leverage on this so as to bring Nigerian karaoke content to the rest of the world?
Winning the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program in 2016 marked a major milestone for Nairoke Entertainment as it came at a time when my spirit was getting low and was doubting the idea of karaoke.
The foundation has contributed immensely to the journey of Nairoke Entertainment till date. Of note, among many, is the 12-week startup toolkit course and the seed capital. The former gave the prerequisite skills, knowledge and all-round training to remodel and properly structure Nairoke; it also opened my eyes to diverse opportunities hitherto not considered. The latter provided funding to curate world class karaoke contents and also purchase vital equipment.
Our strategy is to think global and act local, hence, we plan to first develop the home markets adequately and simultaneously, where possible and as demanded, work on listing Nigerian karaoke on the already established international markets.
Our aim is growth. And so we are open to strategic partnerships to make this happen.
What role do you think Nairaoke would play in leadership, empowerment and the development of Nigerian culture?
Music is a cultural and social vehicle and should engender several levels of meaningful interaction. Nairoke’s platform ensures that music is enjoyed not only for its rhythm, but for the lyrics and the veracity of mimicry. Nairoke jolts the listener to become part of the music and creates a high level in interaction by relaxing the mind and helping the attendees remove all encumbrances. It creates avenues for shared connections of emotions and nostalgia while performances go on.
One of the potentials of this is the discovery and evolution of new media content that has the ability to create an instant initial interaction of peers based on the discovery of a shared playlist or favorite singer/song. This social binding can then be explored to deeper levels of intellectual discourse of literary, religious, socio-political among others, as people have been discovered to interact more comfortably first from the mundane.
Nairoke can also serve as a platform to study the trend and development of the music industry especially as it relates to the choice of music, trends, growth and the attention given to the content of song. This can be used to orchestrate cultural shifts, information dissemination and any other use deemed fit. We see each Nairoke track as a brick which can be used to build anything the mind can think of.
In our bid to empower young talents, we have started a drive to discover, employ and manage karaoke hosts across Nigeria. We know that this investment in people will eventually take karaoke closer to every lover of it.
There are many young Nigerians out there who are very passionate about something, what would you like to tell them?
Passion is good, vision is better, but if you do nothing about either, you’re a total waste of God’s free air.