The UK Afrobeats scene is vastly growing with West Africa setting the global scene, and there’s a PR maven who has an unwavering passion for new and developing music artists, Stephanie Adamu. The UK-born Nigerian relations queen, over the years, has developed methods and created solid foundations and workable patterns for her acts that have stood the test of time. She has turned her passion and methods into the Stefi K PR and Branding Agency powerhouse that now stands, an agency catering to and supporting the Afrobeats industry, lifestyle and culture worldwide. Stephanie is definitely on her A-game and SCHICK talks to Stephanie about her PR methods, networks and dreams, enjoy!
Tell us about you! Where are you from, what were you pursuing prior to public relations, had you ever thought about this before you started?
“I’m Stephanie Adamu, I am the Founder and CEO in charge of Stefi K PR and Branding Agency. I have been doing this for over 5 years and have had the pleasure of working with amazing artists and events. I have always had an eye for branding and advertising; I’ve been doing PR related stuff as long as I can remember. I studied PR, Advertising and Business Management at the University of Bedfordshire.”
Who or what influenced you to get into the PR business?
“I worked alongside Badguy Toba for Africa Unplugged which was one of the biggest Afrobeats Concerts in the UK. While on this project I was thrown straight into the deep end and teamed up with Tiwa Savage after meeting her demands and pulling off a successful live performance. After the event I woke to a text from Tiwa which I will never forget “I would have walked out many times if not for your hard work, You are part of the history we created last night. Truly from my heart I live, appreciate and respect you, Don’t change you are a blessing” This message is what truly gave me the courage and boost to spread my wings within the Afrobeats industry.”
What is the most exciting moment you have had so far in your career?
“In 2016 I was invited to speak at The National Career Fair at Unilag in lagos. It was such an honour that they felt I was suitable to mentor and give advice to their students who wanted to get into Music PR and Branding, as I am based in London it was overwhelming that the event organisers notice my work through social media platforms. It was a nerve wrecking experience as I had to give a speech and answer questions in front of over 900 people, but thank God all went well!”
Do you have a criterion in place for the kind of artists or people you work with?
“Yes I do. I like to work with artists that are focused, who have a clear understanding of their goals and do not get sidetracked by outside influences, people, or problems when pursuing their goals. To me a successful artist has to be decisive, have the ability to think things through thoroughly, and be able to stick to decisions made. They must have also be able to see the bigger picture and not take business personally. Successful artists are able to separate the business aspect of their careers from the creative side and make them co-exist peacefully. I also like workaholics, lazy people don’t succeed in the music industry; there’s always someone coming up who’s willing to work harder.”
What, do you believe, is the most challenging thing about the industry?
“Financial backing is a big issue because the cash is what determines how your song will get played, how you will pay for advertising, videos, promo etc. Having such concerns from the beginning dampens artists’ creativity and vision when they should be thinking about their music. Also having the right team around you seems to be a big issue, artist are being sidetracked by their managers / consultants that actually have no structured plan, or they change plans without any notice to copy other artists.”
What hobbies do you have that rejuvenate your creativity?
“I have a lot of creative friends who I check in with on a weekly basis we inspire each other and give each other refreshing ideas or solutions to issues we could be stuck in. I also start my day in the gym and sauna where I meditate and clear any previous clutter from my mind.”
How do you balance your work with other obligations?
“This is still something I am working on at the moment. In this industry you have to be on you A game almost 24/7 with it being long hours and demanding work. As a single parent it can be stressful at times as your child always comes first. So you have to do daily school runs and school events while working at my 9-5 day job, while making sure I am attending artists events and interviews that run at the same time. I am very fortunate to have a very supportive family that are always willing to help and assist in anyway.”
What, do you believe, is the biggest problem in the music industry that you have had to overcome?
“I feel that there is not enough support and guidance in our industry, things sorely needed especially in one as unstructured as ours.”
What is your favorite thing about the music industry? Has anything or anyone surprised you?
“It is so amazing to see your client’s do amazing and to have them be happy with the campaign you did for them. It is fun to work on different types of projects that a client has because they want to break out of their usual roles, or have a passion for something new. I am in awe of the artist that have taken Afrobeats globally such as Wiz Kid, Maleek Berry, Tiwa Savage just to name a few. I would not say this has surprised me but it definitely has got my full attention and makes me proud to be a part of this industry.”
You’re someone that has works between two different locations in the same industry. What are your thoughts on the music industry in Nigeria in comparison to the UK Afrobeats industry?
“The music industry in Nigeria is extremely fast paced with new emerging artist springing up by the hour. There are so many talented artist in Nigeria that have taken the sound worldwide and opening doors for artist yet to come. The media outlets in Nigeria are also very influential with radio and TV stations being the hub for all airplay and live shows / events happening daily. Compared to UK where African music is currently boxed into the genre ‘AFROBEATS’. The UK Afrobeats scene is vastly growing, Fortunately with the likes of Adesope, SMADE, Michael Tubes, Neptizzle, DJ Edu, DJ Abass DJ Gabe and Wise Tola (just to name a few) there is now a structure coming into place where here in the UK we have regular concerts, shows and listening sessions.”
Is there anything that got past you, like an artist you wished you worked with?
“I wished I tagged onto Tiwa Savage, she is the dopest most amazing artist to come out of Africa right now. From her style to her music she is definitely on the winning team.”
What current projects are you working on? Do you have anyone new in your clientele?
“I am currently embarking on a new quest with the Streets Legend Management Team, they represent a lot of artist and current worldwide producer Kriz Beatz. We have a number of projects in the woodwork which shall be revealed very soon. I am also preparing for events happening in Lagos during the Christmas period which I am very excited about.”
What personal advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your pursuit?
“PR can be extremely challenging but also incredibly rewarding. Do not take things too personally, and keep working to keep the pipeline of PR interest and opportunities full. Remember: your client is counting on you to help them make their mark, and the media is looking to you as a resource for great stories and content. If you can master how to keep them both happy, you’re well on your way to being a successful PR pro.”
What was your biggest inspiration and driving force this year?
“Working as producer for Afrobeat Takeover on The Beat London 103.6 FM has inspired me a lot this year and given me reason to work outside my comfort zone as well as with my clients that I currently PR for. I have a very strong team Dboy Dayo and Selecta Maestro who have given me that drive and push when needed.”
What were your biggest lessons this year? Was there anything you had to unlearn?
“This year has been very insightful I have met a lot of characters and been in situations that were very unnecessary. My biggest lesson this year would be to always believe in your first gut instinct, in our industry it is standard procedure for people to sell all of us dreams from artist managers to promoters, pluggers etc. They can offer you contracts, deals and so forth, do your research on their background, where they have been and what they have done.”
As someone who has done this for so long, what are typical mistakes people make when trying to pursue the music career?
“They feel that everything is a competition and end up targeting the wrong people. Instead of focusing on interacting with fans, Djs, and people that can broadcast your music on a wider scale so they can promote themselves, they focus on their own self and rarely even post their own music on their personal social media pages. For people to engage with an artist they have to create an ongoing buzz that people, labels and sponsors want to follow. Show what you are doing in the studio, at shows, with other artists. Being an Artist is also a business, they need to keep relationships professional, network to set schedules, keep paperwork of what’s been happening, push themselves even when they do not want to, and strategically invest time and money with the aim of making more back in the long run.”
If you had to do it all over again, would you still choose this career? Would you do anything differently?
“I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason and I feel that this career choose me. My experiences have helped me grow and made me who I am today. If I could do anything different I would have studied Photography / Videography and Editing additionally at University so I had more skills under my belt.”
Is there growth in this field? How do things generally look for new musicians entering the field?
“Most definitely! Afrobeats is growing worldwide especially with streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music taking over CD distribution. It is much easier to have your music distributed online on a wider scale. I would also advise Artists to be patient with themselves and with their plans. Some artists find their lane on the first single, for others it may take years, name changes, failed deals; everyone has a different timeline. They should take time to learn and apply themselves. Focus on developing themselves every day. Understand your strengths as weaknesses. Be open to feedback and differing opinions and have fun!”
What life quote do you live by?
“Be mindful. Be grateful. Be positive. Be true. Be kind.”
Lastly, what advice would you give to people about their personal brand?
“My biggest personal branding tip is to be authentic, be transparent and give your audience the “real” you. Do not create a brand that’s just like everyone else’s. Be unique and find out what makes you different and leverage that so people have something to remember you by. Good content – Your content is what will attract your audience to you. The more you give, the more attractive your brand becomes. Remember to build great relationships along the way because these are the people who will become your fans. They’ll be eager to support you, share your content and refer others to you. Put aside some time on a monthly basis to simply network with others, building contacts within your industry is crucial. Lastly be so good they cannot ignore you!”