Chief Nweke Chinedu Sylvester, popularly known as Don Sylvester is one man whose fashion sense, choice of auto-mobile, aura defines a true royalty.
Though, he was not born with silver spoon. But hard work, focus and determination propelled him to the highly exalted seat of Chief Ureavueze II of Nkanu Land and Ishi 1 of Ishi-Ozara, both in his native land in Enugu State.
As a royalty personified, a successful businessman who is into real estate, gold mining, doubles as a top entertainment professional who has practically discovered and nurtured many young Nigerian artistes who today are grateful for his benevolence. The Enugu state born entertainment promoter, CEO Don Sylvester, Record enthusiast revealed in this exclusive interview with Isaac Ifeanyichukwu Agwazim, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, TOP SOCIETY MAGAZINE in his Mende Artiste office where he spoke about his venture into entertainment, his royalty personality and other sundry issues.
Can you take us through your journey into the entertainment industry?
Actually, it is a long story. But to cut it short, I started singing from my university days in Enugu State University of Science and Technology, (ESUT), those days I used to sing and rap. After my graduation, I came into the labor market and started working because I had nobody to sign me as an artiste, who can sing very well.
So, when God finally blessed me, I decided to give back to the society through the entertainment industry, more especially music industry. I’m also a Nollywood movie producer. I decided to open a record label where I can sign artiste, this gesture is to give them that platform that nobody gave me when I needed it, because our up-and-coming Nigerian youths needs a platform to climb, that is how the birth of Don Sylvester Record came about. When it comes to entertainment it has been in me way back, even when I was working with a Chinese company as general manager. I was also producing Nollywood movies; I have produced a whole lot of movies including the Virgin Bride and Co. they are numerous.
So, how do you feel fulfilling your dream owning a record label?
What I can say is that, when you are doing what you love to do, you will definitely be fulfilled; you will find fulfilment. I felt so fulfilled and today I am proud to say that I have produced lots of artistes who are doing very well for themselves. I have also produced so many Nollywood movies which are too numerous for me to mention, I am also fulfilled for the fact that I have my artistes signed under my record label that is highly recognized in the country. In addition to that, I always feel fulfilled in watching some of the films I produced because I know they are part of my achievements. I am so ardent in entertainment to an extent that there is no day I don’t talk about music and arts generally. I take it as part of my life and I feel fulfilled doing it.
What does it take to be a good entertainer?
You must love the business and you must take it as a personal venture, if you don’t love the entertainment business, then you cannot go far in it. You have to love the business first, that is the only way you can make it, because it is not easy, many have failed in the Nigerian entertainment industry. Your passion for the industry will keep you going, only when you are in the tick of events like facing embarrassment and disappointment from artistes and producers and you are able to cope then you will surely say you are an entertainment entrepreneur. We have strange challenges from all quarters ranging from those who handle our TV angle, internet, radio and other media sectors. So, if you don’t have passion for the entertainment industry, you cannot be able to do well in it.
Sir, to be candid you are a successful businessman, what does it take to sustain success?
Tenacity. but it all still balls down to passion. If you have passion for whatever profession you are into, then you will definitely make it. In the industry where I operate (entertainment industry) you need to invest your time, energy and resources before you can sustain, because while doing this you will need help a lot of people and that is the only way you can draw more finances to yourself. Another thing is that you have to be current with events if you want to be sustained in the industry. It is very strategic and important. As an entertainment entrepreneur, you have to be current with what is happening in the industry and you must carry people in the media along with you. You also have to respect people that are in the industry before you for them to show you the way.
How many artistes have you produced so far?
I have produced so many of them, I have taken so many of them to stardom but maybe God is still taking me to a level that we will be announced with a good and talented artiste. I presently have a lot of talented and good artistes in my list. I have a very good and promising artiste now called Caften based in Enugu, he is very talented and I am proud of him. We also have others on our waiting lists which we are trying to scrutinize them, prepare them before we would announce them into the music world.
Actually, I have signed a lot of artistes but many of them have fallen by the way because they parted way with us, just like the Bible says, many are called but few are chosen. But I can tell you categorically that today we have more than 30 artistes in our payroll, we are doing everything possible to promote our artistes because their promotion is our gain. We have invested on our artistes and we are sure that our investment would not go in vain.
What does it cost to produce a good music in Nigeria?
Well, all I can say is that averagely you can produce a music with N500,000 but it all depends on the quality that you want. But if you want to dabble into video production, promotion and every other aspect of music, it will cost you nothing less than 10 million. But if you have a studio and a producer, it will cost you lesser. Like here at Don Sylvester Records, we produce our records and do our videos here, so it does not cost us extravagant. We have our studio, we have our artistes, and every other equipment. If you want to do a production with us, you need to pay from N500,000 upwards excluding the video because that will cost like N3 million or there about. We have the best of hands that will contest favorably with international standards. I thank God that we have a lot of professionals in the industry who knows their onions, both on directing, editing and production. That is why we don’t undercharge, so many artistes have affirmed our production quality to be of top quality to compete to anywhere in the world.
What else are you into outside music and movies?
I am supposed to be a business mogul, an entrepreneur but actually it was because even when I read about Information Technology, you know the Nigerian situation, there is no job everywhere and that was why I ventured into the entertainment sector. I have worked with a South Korean company that imports goods into Nigeria. I actually started working as a manager then, I rose to the position of a General Manager before the company left Nigeria, and the Chinese counterparts who were their partners took over and I also joined them. I was seconded to the Casinos and Hotels and I became a General Manager. Through our efforts, we promoted Nigeria to China and that is why we have a cordial business relationship till date. Today, I thank God that I am a consultant to Chinese companies and I appreciate the fact that I also import goods from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates on behalf of the country. I was also involved in the transaction of selling houses for our people in Dubai. So, I have been involved in many businesses and I am still doing business.
Your take on the Nigerian entertainment industry?
Our entertainment professionals need a lot of training and orientation. At this stage, I don’t need to be begging any television station or radio station to promote my music or artiste. This is because I have paid my dues and I thank God for that. So, at this level, I don’t need any social media or any other form of media to sell my products. I just want to thank God that I have paid my dues. We have many quacks in this industry and that is what we are working against. Again, another issue is that we need to help the music guys from the streets who are suffering on the streets and they are blessed with perfect brains. They have nobody to help them. The boys and girls that are producing good music are on the streets.
Your advice for up and coming artiste?
The issue is that when you help one of them, you have helped thousands of them. Another thing is that the up and coming artistes need to discover themselves to sustain themselves. They have to be well behaved and responsible. Stay away from crimes and maintain your legacy as an entertainer. They should maintain and adhere to the norms of the society and ensure that they kept to their careers.