Exclusive: meet Mr. Jackson Bacumi, an entrepreneur who is revolutionizing the Burundian music industry, one artist at a time
This is another opportunity that RegionWeek has had to chat with Burundian entrepreneurs and experts to learn what they are doing in their field, especially in Burundi and in the diaspora. Today’s guest is a Burundian based in Sweden with a company in the music industry based in Burundi.
Hello sir, could you introduce yourself, please?
Thank you, Mr. Fabrice, My name is Jackson Bacumi, but I am generally known as Dj Jackson, I am Burundian and I live in Sweden.
Many people know you as the manager of the Bukiv Lab, can you tell us more about how this company started and why?
Bukiv Lab means “Buja & Kigali vibes Label” it is a music house operating in Burundi since 2013. We created Bukiv Lab to contribute to the music industry in Burundi, we realized that music in Burundi was progressing but still needed support to reach the regional level. This is why we have decided to launch a musical recording label that works for the promotion of Burundian artists, but above all to boost their talents and their income by effectively distributing their productions.
Another reason that pushed me personally to start a music label in Burundi is that I am always touched by the number of Burundians who have no work. It always makes me sad. As a Burundian in the diaspora, I always wonder how I can contribute to this situation. It’s the spirit that drives me, that’s how I am and why I created Bukiv Lab.
A lot of people often hear about music labels but very few understand how this business works, can you tell us what a music label does?
Let me start with the word “Label”, although it is widely used in the music industry to refer to companies that care about music and artists, the common way to understand a label is to think of it. take as a mark, normally a label is a mark. Concretely, a music label is a company that coordinates the music value chain, from pre-production to distribution. I would say that a label is a corporate structure that can allow artists to create and market their products, in an organized way, with a dedicated team every step of the way.
But how do music labels make money?
Music labels have many ways to make money, first of all there is music that can be sold, both audio and music videos can be sold. Moreover, this money can be earned through the brand itself. The brand alone can be very valuable through the merchandise it can sell. The more famous a label becomes, the more money it can earn from its products.
A label’s notoriety grows when the artists it has signed are also doing very well in the market. Labels can make money from concerts when artists are booked to perform on various occasions. Labels can also organize events to broadcast their music and connect artists with their fans, they can also make money this way.
Another way to monetize is to sell ad space, especially nowadays with the internet, artists and their labels are developing powerful channels that can be used to showcase companies’ services and products. This is where we have what are called Brand Ambassadors because it really helps companies get more visibility when they partner with us.
What do you think of when you want to sign an artist?
For me it’s very simple, what I’m looking for is raw talent, I have to make sure that the artist in front of me is good at what he does. Because you know there are a lot of people out there who really love to sing but aren’t good at it, I listen to the quality of the vocals to the skill the artist has in using the voice. Talent is the foundation, without it no other strategy can work.
The other thing that we consider is to see if the music is suitable for the market that we are targeting. When all of these conditions are met, we contact the Artist with a proposal to work with us. In the future, at Bukiv Lab, we plan to involve fans and the public in the process of selecting artists we can sign, including through contests and other contests.
In Burundi, there are many music labels. What makes Bukiv Lab different from others?
At Bukiv Lab, we don’t like to brag, we let others sing about our value, but our mission sets us apart from our competition. When we sign an artist to Bukiv Lab, we are committed to making a difference when it comes to building their career. And we have creative strategies for working with artists, even those who are not yet signed to our label. We serve artists and we ensure that the mission entrusted to us is carried out with excellence.
The other thing we do differently is the way we extend our services for the benefit of businesses, especially when it comes to digital marketing, we offer social media community management services. Beyond that, I would say that all Burundian labels are on the same battlefield trying to boost the music industry.
What can you say about Burundi’s business opportunities compared to other East African countries?
I would say that in Burundi there are still a lot of gaps to fill, especially when it comes to the music industry. All the labels working in Burundi are almost new, I remember that when I recorded Bukiv Lab in 2013 there was no music label, I remember the same year when Ikoh Multiservice was launched too but there was no music label. there were no music labels at the time.
This system of professionalization of the music industry, we are trying to put it in place. But beyond that we all know that Burundi is a country that faces many challenges, the music industry is like other companies and tends to face the same challenges like the very low power of ‘purchase. And it is difficult to sell entertainment when the basic needs of the people are not met.
The real challenge lies in the active participation of the entire population in the economy, which would stimulate other sectors.
Which artists are you currently working with?
I am currently working with a talented woman called Esther Nish (Esther Nishimwe), and an amazing rapper called STICK, there are a lot of artists who work with no long term agreements, I can mention here “Squadron” an artist from Ngozi.
There are others that I cannot mention here as we are still negotiating. We aim to work with every artist who desires a professional environment to develop their career.
We realized that in Burundi many artists do not yet know how to broadcast their productions on the internet. Often times, we work with artists to distribute their songs digitally.
Many Burundian artists complain of being underpaid, often claiming that they are not valued. Which is wrong?
It is true that the Burundian artists are really in difficulty, and even the music labels are suffering and investing all they have to bring value to the music industry. It is always difficult to negotiate over who pays who and how much. We all remember the incident with Primusic, where local artists made a lot less money in a series of concerts, and Diamond from Tanzania was paid beyond measure while playing for 1 hour. courtesy of the event organizers.
All the inequalities occur because there is an actor who does not fully play his role, and here I would like to mention OBDA the agency of copyright and intellectual property. This institution should ensure that artists and their arts are treated properly, by implementing laws that stipulate minimum wages and other conditions that allow artists to do well in their productions.
Contracts are always difficult and organizers take advantage of poor conditions in which artists have to pay far less than they would have to pay if there were proper regulation. I would say the government should help us hold this agency accountable, that way we can run everything on our own on the creative and business side of the music industry. If only each actor played their part, the situation would be better.
Another challenge is that Burundian artists do not invest as much as they should in their personal development, some are arrogant and they do not recognize that they are being left behind. We see the people who are involved in the music industry as a way to survive, they take everything lightly and it hampers the process of professionalization of the music industry, we hope that over time this will change .
On the other hand, we see that the lack of capital, and of institutions which can finance the arts, is a great challenge. We hope that one day banks and other financial institutions will step out of their comfort zone, to experience new sectors such as art and culture as has been done in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
What can you advise someone who wants to invest in a music label, start a business in this sector?
There are many options, you become a music recording label or an artist management service provider, or some other component. But if for example if a young person wants to start a music label, I would advise him to take the time to work within existing music labels to gain experience. This would allow him to build his own network, he should not base his decisions not only on the fame side of the business, but he should sit down and learn every detail of the industry to have creative strategies that can enable him to break through. .
The other thing I can advise would be to work with others and he should avoid the trap of individualism. It’s like a trend, everyone now wants to be a boss, but they ignore that you can start with other people and later be the boss. We see many founders of startups who were successful in their businesses when they started as programmers in other companies. We should not rush to create businesses that cannot deliver value. Young people need to sit down and learn how they can innovate.
Any special message to our audience
First of all, I would like to thank our fans, without them we cannot go far, that is why I would like to express my gratitude to them, asking them for more support. We ask our fans to always make suggestions on how we should improve, to be free to write and send us your ideas. For all those who want to visit, our offices in Bujumbura are located at 4, Kigobe avenue du Cinquantenaire. We welcome you all, whether you are a business, an artist, or a fan our doors are open!
Thanks, Mr. Jackson
It’s my pleasure!