Oluwatoki Tope-Anifowose is a Nigerian-American who is making waves in the US music industry and beyond. A graduate of business management from California State University, Northridge, but decided to ply his trade as an artist and repertoire cum artist manager using his foreknowledge of business management as background.
Toki as he is fondly called was born on January 22, 1999, to Mr. Temitope Anifowose and Mrs. Funmilola Tope-Anifowose. He has his ancestral roots in Ondo state in Nigeria.
Though still building a strong foundation for his passion turned business, Toki has worked with artists like rapper Trilly, Free Ackrite, rapper B3 among others. In this interview, he spoke about his journey as A&R, challenges and current project.
Can you tell us what A&R means and what you do?
Artists and repertoire is the division of a record label or music publishing company that is responsible for talent finding, and great artists, songwriters that have potential and a different sound.
So you work behind the scenes, which many people are unaware of, how do you get your credit?
I work with a lot of artists which a lot of people are unaware of it’s more about building them up and make sure they’re ready for the big future coming. I’m not too worried about the credit, I just want them to get what’s they deserve.
When did you start professionally?
I started not too long ago, one of my major artist coming out is Chino Lingo @chino.lingo, he has been working with major artists and has a bright future.
Tell us about your background.
I’m 21-year-old. I was born in Los Angeles, California before I moved to Nigeria when I was 10-year-old in 2009 to study for a couple of years and I moved back to America 5 years later to finish my studies.
Who are some of the artists you’ve been able to collaborate on over the years?
I have a lot of artists, so I can’t speak on currently because of the fine print but eventually, you’ll get to know and hear the greatness coming.
How did your parents react to your decision to take up music business?
My parents have always been a chase your dream type of parents, they want me to finish school but since this pandemic began I took a break and started taking music more seriously.
Tell us about your challenges.
I face a lot of challenges and it’s bound to happen, multiple ARs trying to grab artists and give them deals, and they’re not knowing what they’re signing they just hear money and sign everything away also have to have a good ear for talent.
Talking about the challenges, was there a time you wanted to give up?
Yeah, multiple times I’ve thought of giving up, but you have to look at the future not right now, we are grinding for a better future it’s not something that happens overnight. Commitment is a big part of it.
Has music business been profitable for you so far?
Not yet, music hasn’t been very profitable to me but I know it’s soon going to pay off. You have to spend a lot of money and that’s currently what I’m doing but I know a good payout will soon come.
Social media and streaming platforms have made it easier for upcoming artists to share their work with the world independently. Does this affect the A&R part of the industry specifically?
All the steaming platforms and things don’t make it tough because a lot of artists need help distributing and promoting they feel like that can go independent, but they still need that push regardless and that’s where I come in.
What are the things that need to be adjusted in the African music industry? What are we missing and how can we be better?
African music industry just needs seriousness. Too much independence that everyone wants their own money and doesn’t want people to profit off them, that’s the problem. But eventually, everything will be okay in Africa.
What are your thoughts on the global demand for African music?
Everyone loves African music. I believe eventually the sound will take over the world, it’s slowly happening now.
What project are you currently working on?
I told you earlier, I’m currently working on Chino Lingo. Big things coming.