WeTalkSessions – Piriye Isokrari on building and running a world-class record label from Africa.

WeTalkSessions – Piriye Isokrari on building and running a world-class record label from Africa.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

by  WeTalkSound  WeTalkSound

Piriye Isokrari [or Peedi Picasso] is the innovator, founder and CEO of the Aristokrat group and African Media and entertainment conglomerate headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria. Aristokrat currently houses a record label, music publishing company, digital media production, tour and concert production company.

Over the course of his career he has worked with many big artists in the African industry such as 2face, Wande Coal, Victor Uwaifo and most notably Grammy award nominated afro-fusion artist Burna Boy and Grammy Awards nominated producer Kel P.

In 2020, Peedi was at the helm of solidifying a joint venture with Universal Music France and Aristokrat group which consists of both a label deal, as well as a publishing deal through Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG).

We caught up with him to chat about his experiences so far in the music and creative business.

Hello Peedi! We’re super excited to chat with you today. How are you doing?

Doing great! Thanks for having me on.

Let’s start from the very beginning. How did the music journey begin?

I always had a deep love and connection for music and the arts from a very young age, but the journey started with me as a music producer during my university days.

Wow. You produced music. Is there any of it out somewhere on the internet? When did you decide to transition from the creative side to the more business side of music?

[Laughs] I’ve done a good job of deleting a lot of it… There might still be something out there. The transition came after an accident I had… I sat down, reflected and told myself the hard truth… I was just an okay producer but an exceptional A&R/Exec.

Interesting. What advice would you give someone starting out in this space? How do they find where exactly they belong in the industry?

Study and understand the different roles and positions that exist and identify where your strengths and skill set align the most.

Thank you. So when you started Aristokrat, what was your initial vision? How did you go about setting up your first team and deciding who to sign?

My vision for Aristokrat wasn’t just music. I wanted to build the biggest African entertainment company/brand in the world… I told my friend from Zimbabwe I was going to be bigger than Disney… She thought I had lost my mind. Music seemed like the best place to start this journey.

How were you able to pull off the transition from being a label to a 360 entertainment company, which Aristokrat is today? Any lessons you can share?

I like to think of us an entertainment company with a very prominent label division. The vision still remained the same and the transition is still on going but it’s like everything I do patience and perseverance. Take it one step at a time. It’s ok to fail.

What was it like working with Burna and LeriQ in the early days?

Surreal… To be surrounded by that level of Talent, passion and work ethic. We knew we were going to make it. It was only a matter of time till it happened.

How did it feel being an integral part of African Giant and getting that Grammy nomination? How did you feel when it didn’t win?

Felt great working on African Giant and even greater when it got nominated. I’m glad I got to contribute to that moment in contemporary African music history. As for not winning it was a bit disheartening like any loss but honestly we already won being nominated.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in building one of the most successful creative companies in Nigeria? Any advice for people starting out?

Building it in Nigeria. That’s the first challenge. When I moved back my friends and family didn’t understand “this music thing”. You have to fight that battle. You have to fight the no infrastructure battle, the no access to startup funding battle.

Funding is a core problem for those of us building entertainment companies. How would you advise young innovators to go about seeking funds?

Angel investors or be your own angel. Look for what service you can render to generate revenue for yourself. Get a job. I did supply jobs at Total in Port-Harcourt to fund my start.

Moving to Aristokrat of the present and the future! Please tell us what your new joint-venture with Universal Music France really means for Aristokrat and African music in general?

For Aristokrat, it gives us the resources we need to do what we are best at doing. Discovering and developing African talent. It gives us a partner with a vast network and years of experience to learn from.

Really interesting. Congratulations on the deal! Partnering with the biggest music company in the world is no easy feat. What signs do you think they saw that drew them to Aristokrat?

Our vision, our structure, our team and most importantly the music. The music we make has always been exceptional.

What are we expecting from Aristokrat going forward?

First we get back to the music! We have a lot of great music coming out. Singles, projects, album etc. Then we will continue to break new grounds in digital media, touring, TV and film. The journey to make Aristokrat the Africa’s biggest entertainment brand continues.

We totally look forward to everything you have coming. We’re here for it. Any words of advice for people trying to build global entertainment companies from within Africa, like Aristokrat?

My advice is study those who have come before you, History is a great teacher. Learn from our mistakes and don’t lose yourself in the pursuit of money/fame/success.

Thank you very much Peedi. That’s golden. We really appreciate you for honouring our invite. We look forward to more great news and music from Aristokrat.

Thanks for inviting me. Wahala for anybody way no honor @wetalksound invite. AR to the world!

About The Author


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