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The celeb manager

By | June 23rd 2010

Doreen Ndoria, 28, has managed some of the biggest names in the local music industry, she spoke to Shirley Genga 

What did you study in college?

I did human resources management at the Kenya Inistutue of Management.

Then how did you move from human resource to artiste management?

In 2003, I got a call from my friend Mike Rabar of Homeboyz asking me if I could manage CocaCola popstar group Sema, and I gladly accepted.

Realising I was good at management, I branched into event management. I still did not see a career path in artiste management but I continued to offer advice and guidance to some artistes. After Sema, however, I was convinced I it was something I wanted to pursue. My first clients were Xyzee. I also managed Big Pin, Amani and later Wahu and Nameless.

What artistes are you currently managing?

I still work with Amani and Wahu but I am currently managing Cloud Tissa, a Kenyan artiste based in Australia. He wanted to branch into the Kenyan music and needed to understand the local industry.

What does an artiste manager do?

It involves coming up with an image and a sense of style to match the image. Every artiste should have a style/swagger by which the fans identify with. When we started with Amani, she was into Jeans and tops, but we came up with a new image, which was short dresses — basically something sexy to define her a new image. Image is very important and every artiste should have a distinct stage personality.

I come up with a business plan to bring the vision to life. My job also involves booking shows on behalf of artistes, assessing contracts to determine whether they are suitable for my artiste. I also manage transport costs, book hotels, organise tickets, make payments, among other logistics. It is my job to ensure everything is right.

What are some of the challenges you face?

I have to deal with the bad attitude towards local music. Secondly, one does so much work but gets paid very little. The reason I am still here is because this is my passion; I love helping artistes achieve their dreams.

How does it feel when artistes who were once under you win awards?

When Amani won the MTV Award I was overjoyed. She had worked so hard and her time to shine finally came. Wahu and Nameless wins also made me realise I had made an impact.

How do you help your artistes get their song into the mainstream media?

I find out what appeals to the masses and I tailor the artiste’s image and tune to match it. I also market them and help in prioritising. I see artistes with so much potential but because they lack the skill to effectively market themselves, their songs don’t go far. I come up with a three-month business plan, something I feel every artist should have if they want to achieve. As we progress, I constantly review it to ensure we stick to the vision.

What’s the hardest thing about event management?

The weather is a huge challenge. You can plan for an event days in advance, not envisaging rain but it ends up raining heavily. Budgeting and marketing is also not easy. One has to be disciplined and good at planning. The market is also flooded with event organisers so you have to do a proper market research and be unique and creative.

How do you tell a fake from a real manager given that the market is flooded with fakes?

Ensure they work with an artiste with a good name who can recommend them. If performing within the country, artistes should ensure 50 percent of the payments are made and 80 percent if it is an international event. Return tickets and hotel bookings should also be confirmed before departure. Artistes should also ensure they are paid before going on stage, as some organisers will want to pay you from entry collections and this might be unreliable.

What is your diary like as an event manager?

My diary for the year is full, meaning I have to be good at time management. I travel a lot; today I’m in Naivasha, tomorrow at the Coast and the next day somewhere else. It is crazy at times but I manage. I also work with Full Circle Africa hence I have events in Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia.

Who is your hero?

My mum. She has taken care my three siblings and I on her own.

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