eLDee is an African hip-hop legend.
If you disagree, please indicate by a show of hands, so that the ushers can spot you and escort you out of this online premises. There are some things that just aren’t up for debate.
eLDee introduced us to some of the most impactful artistes of the last 15 years in 2Shotz, Sasha, Freestyle, Dr Sid, Proto etc and the group he founded, Trybesmen, helped to add the “cool factor” to local music at a time when a lot of our acts were considered “razz” by the younger folks in that generation. He injected a healthy balance of creativity, humor and social activism into how rap music was delivered to add to its commercial appeal, and who can forget all the hit records that became definitive moments in our recent music history, most of which eLDee produced himself.
Trybal Marks, Shake Bodi (1999),
I Go Yarn, African Chiquito (2003),
Work It Out, Oya (with Da Trybe) (2005),
Champion, I’m Leaving (2005),
Bosi Gbangba, Big Boy (2007),
One Day (E Go Better) (2009),
Ota Mi (2010),
Higher, Wash Wash (2011)
Forgive me if I left out any of your favorites, there wasn’t any PlayData back then to tell us which songs were undeniable hits, more on this later.
His music career produced 5 solo projects and 3 group albums but eLDee tha Don’s impact transcends just the music, he’s also been a game changer on the business side of things. Polygram was the last major label to pull out of Nigeria. In 1991, the company evolved into Premier Records as the foreign investors dipped. Polyram left the country largely as a result of the government’s Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) which didn’t favour their doing business in the country any longer.
However, many industry observers of that era opine that another issue that caused the company, and indeed other record labels, to abandon ship was the havoc that pirates were increasingly wreaking on its bottom line. It was impossible to distribute music efficiently with a buoyant black market existing in parallel and going unchecked by the government and law enforcement. These inefficiencies would go on to bedevil the industry that the major labels left behind for several years.
In the late 90’s, eLDee was at the forefront of proffering a solution to this problem. As the CEO of Trybe Records, rather than continuing to fight a losing battle against the pirates, eLDee embraced them and made them independent distributors of his label’s music. The “Alaba” phenomenon was born. Through the pirate’s well-oiled distribution networks, Trybesmen’s music was able to travel far and wide and the group was in turn able to tour and build a nationwide fanbase behind it. Granted it was supping with the devil with a long spoon, this marketing and distribution model was adopted by the entire industry in the years that followed.
Nearly two decades on and eLDee is no longer as active in the music business as he once was but he’s still very much in the business of solving problems. Nigerian music has a data problem – there’s no accurate way to track what songs are getting played on the radio, how many times they are getting played and on what stations they are getting played. This means that the process of music promotion is inefficient, the singles charting process is arbitrary and a royalty framework for radio airplay is practically impossible. That was, until PlayData came along.
eLDee launched PlayData in 2015, a broadcast monitoring solution that tracks songs, inputs the songs into its backend systems and outputs a number of useful reports on that song’s airplay to just about everyone in the music delivery value chain, from the artistes, to labels, to broadcasters, to journalists and the fans. But that’s not all, PlayData’s proprietary technology can be applied to more than just the music space. The technology can and, indeed, is already being used by advertizers to track radio play for their jingles and crosscheck that against the broadcasters claims and the company is making the technology available to monitor TV stations as well.
Recently, we had a brief chat with eLDee, the CEO of PlayData. We talked more about his business venture, the challenges of getting a startup off the ground, rates of adoption of the service and how he intends to make a profit. We also gave eLDee an opportunity to answer critics of the PlayData service, some argue that the solution isn’t groundbreaking and solves only one problem but won’t truly add value if no one else solves the remaining nine.
We apologize for the choppy video and audio quality, we had the chat over Skype as part of our #OffTheRecord segment. #OffTheRecord meaning the conversations aren’t as polished as you would get with a normal interview. The conversation is in 2 parts, happy viewing.