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Rodney Nzioka on Why Coke Studio Africa 2019 Is Special For Kenyan Artists

Article by Lena Anyuolo
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Posted: February 20, 2019  

Rodney Nzioka (right) poses with Coke Studio Africa artiste Khaligraph Jones

A chat with Coca-Cola Company Senior Franchise Brand Manager on his vision for Coke Studio Africa, why the 2019 season is special for Kenya and what it takes to create to have a platform such as Coke Studio Africa.

KenyaBuzz: What does it take to put together a show like Coke Studio Africa?
RN: It takes a lot of planning. Any season of Coke Studio Africa that is done takes almost a year of planning. This planning in terms of, shooting location the technical needed. We to research on the artists we want on the show, and the format of the show. We think about the segments we will include – cultural exchanges, freestyle segments, or original compositions and remixes. It is a full time team effort. We have a team of over 50 different people working on different aspects of the show.

KenyaBuzz: What criteria do you use to select the artist on your show?
RN: We do research on our core consumer target, who are between the ages of 13-18 years old by asking them to name their hottest artists. The interesting thing from their responses is that they vary between current artists, to older generation artists, who may not be active in the music scene but created music that they love. Our job is to then get in touch with the list of shortlisted artists, inform them of their selection, and check their availability to be part of Coke Studio Africa. Because these artists are popular, so some might be booked during production stage, but we try to work around their schedules while we match it with their collaborating artist from a different country. The scheduling process shortens our list until we get the required number of artist per country for the season in production.

KenyaBuzz: Is there a way in which artists can nominate themselves to be part of the show?
RN: We are always on the hunt for new artists. If you are putting your work out there, then it will definitely reach us. The artists on our breakout artist section do not reach out to us. We find them based on their work. They may not be getting mainstream airplay but they have managed to gain traction on different platforms. What I would like to say to the artists is, ‘Put your work out there. Your fans will tell us.

KenyaBuzz: Why is this particular season of Coke Studio Africa special for Kenya?
RN: The theme is Unapologetically African because we have seen the growth of African music globally. The world is looking to sample our music. We wanted to use our platform to show case the talent of African artists and push the talent of Kenyan artists on the continent.

Kenyabuzz: Will it be a long running theme?
RN: Yes I do. Our music getting bigger and bigger. I foresee a time when international artists will be begging to be on Coke Studio Africa.

KenyaBuzz: Why doesn’t Coke Studio Africa distribute the music created on the show?
RN:We don’t engage in the business side of music. However, we have created an app, Coke Studio Africa app where anyone can go online and listen to the songs they heard on the show, or they can watch past episodes on YouTube. However, in terms of commercially distributing the music, we leave that to the experts.

KenyaBuzz: Is it something you would want to do in future?
RN: It is not our core competency. We have created the platform to highlight the artists. When we are ready to go into distribution, we will start.

KenyaBuzz: What doesn’t Coke Studio include artists from all 53 countries in the show?
RN: That is an internal strategy. When we started Coke Studio Africa in 2013, only five markets were involved in the show. I was part of the pioneer team. It was a proof of concept based on the success of Coke Studio in Pakistan. So far, we’ve had good results to the point that every year over the past six years, we have kept on adding markets to our current number of 10 countries. To put together Coke Studio, each country must put in a significant financial investment so it is a matter of each country planning to be on the show.

KenyaBuzz: Future plans for Coke Studio.
RN: To continue to grow. It has been a great journey since 2013. We want to grow bigger and get more markets and more artists on the show.

About the author

Lena Anyuolo

Lena is a former KenyaBuzz employee.

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