• Monday, June 17, 2024
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‘How First Bank enabled Akin Salami to live the big dream of TheVoice Nigeria III’

‘How First Bank enabled Akin Salami to live the big dream of TheVoice Nigeria III’

Akin Salami, one of the executive producers of The VoiceNigeria Season III is an interviewer’s delight any day, having picked up the gauntlet to brace up to the intrinsic challenge of a volatile, tasking, and energy-sapping reality show. In the past 12 years, this media mogul and visionary entrepreneur has been at the forefront of creating and promoting African content in the Diaspora with a slew of businesses across varied sectors, including but not limited to banking, technology, aviation, and broadcast media in Africa and the United Kingdom. For the first time, Salami teamed up with fellow Nigerians to produce the much-vaunted singing reality show in Nigeria, supported by First Bank and others, via his broadcast and production company, UN1TY, in partnership with Livespot 360, making it the most populous nation in Africa to achieve this feat. The graduate of Engineering from the then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, belongs to the exclusive class of those who are living their dreams without let or hindrance. In this interview with Obinna Emelike, he spoke on a number of issues. Excerpts:

How do you feel about reaching the grand finale stage of the event?

It’s been quite a journey. Where I’m at the moment is where everyone involved in the show was before the show. It was a great show. But we were apprehensive. We knew it was going to be a great show. We were confident. We had a great team. We also had great and reliable sponsors like First Bank, Baba Ìjẹ̀bú, Airtel, and many more. Most people don’t know the venue is owned by one of the people in Konga. So, I would like to always thank the people who supported us. I’m excited about the grand finale because it is the beginning of more grand finales to come.

With the attendant pandemic and other challenges, how were you able to cross the hurdle in your path?

If everything had gone as planned, the third season of the show would have been held earlier in the year, 2020. But Covid-19 struck and production was delayed for seven months, inadvertently affecting the planned budget. The pandemic made everything costly. We also had the #EndSars Riot and a few other things. For the pandemic, we had to do Covid-19 test for over 400 people and put them in hotels, and we are having an active medical team on the ground. Everybody you saw there that night was tested, including all the crew members, the talents, everyone was tested. All of these were not part of the budget because there was no Covid-19 at the time of preparation, and the delay had a cascading effect on all our plans, but despite this, it was a successful event at the end of the day.

Read also: ‘The Voice Nigeria Season 3’ to Air on Airtel TV

The winner went home with N10m, SUV, and a recording deal; how do you intend to manage this talent and what plans do you have in place for the winner?

You can see that we were serious with what we were doing, and for Esther as the winner, we are going to do our very best to keep her at the top of her game and manage her success. So I’m glad that we had a very exciting show. This means that she will go on and be managed by Universal Music, but I don’t know which other artists Universal Music might also select between the runners-up. This was one of the things we wanted to happen, which was why we let First Bank give financial empowerment to the talents. We didn’t just want to create artists that will blow and un-blow so that they will enjoy their stardom for a lifetime after being managed well. Out of what we gave her, including money, an SUV, and a recording contract, we also gave her followers (fan base). So, if you go on YouTube you will see that she now has numerous followers added to her fan base, courtesy of the show.

You had three big brands as your sponsors, how did you make this happen?

Let me say it was God’s doing on how prepared we were. Airtel has always been part of the family, as they have already sponsored the show in the early season; Baba Ijebu being part of it is a plus, while First Bank was a big deal for us in the Season 3 of The VoiceNigeria for all their support and financial commitment to see us through the difficult times of the event during the preparatory stage. It was a good impetus to have them on board.

What informed your decision to take up the arduous challenge of the show?

I love challenges, especially to compete with myself. I like to be a perfectionist, and that can be seen as a problem. I like to get things done. When people say it’s not going to work, that’s when I want to do it, basically, on TheVoice Nigeria, it’s a slap for us that a Nigerian show is being shot outside Nigeria, to avoid this, we had to build a studio for TheVoice Nigeria production. The studio is carefully designed to replicate international standards. From the seating to the stage design, no detail was omitted. The overwhelming number of entries we received from the online audition was a good pointer to this assertion. Figuratively, we estimated an anticipated 5,000 entries but ended up receiving 11,523 entries. Today, TheVoice Nigeria remains the best show that Nigerians have ever seen. The kind of goal we set for ourselves as a team was pretty high, and we were not ready to take any chances. We were not doing this just to have a show but a show that will connect with the Nigerian audience brings wholesome TV viewing, and I want to believe we have done just that.

What next after Season 3, and will First Bank continue with their sponsorship?

I believe that with their commitment and show of genuine interest on their own part, we are hopeful of their continuity because we have proven ourselves beyond all reasonable doubts and we will always count on their corporate support. On what next in our plans, it is the local version of TheVoice Kids, which is a British television talent show for the kids as a junior version of The Voice UK and is part of The Voice Kids’ worldwide franchise, after which we will continue with season 4 and 5 of TheVoice Nigeria.