Young Nigerian music stars, their megabucks, their extravagance

  • How they make fortunes from endorsement deals, shows, live in the fast lane


In 2004, when he released African Queen, his first album, shortly after parting ways with Plantashun Boyz, his former group, he probably never envisaged it would become an instant hit. But as providence would have it, this hit track by Innocent Idibia, popularly called 2face, was a huge success, contributing largely to the sudden transformation of the Benue State-born artiste into one of Nigeria’s top music exports.

In 2006, about two years after the chartbuster single hit the airwaves, Steven Wolfe, a Hollywood movie producer, paid 2face the sum of N30 million to use African Queen as the soundtrack for Phat Girlz, a Hollywood movie produced by Wolfe. The movie is believed to have made its $3 million production budget within the first weekend of its release.

With over two million followers on Instagram, fame, fortune and global appeal now define the 2face brand, courtesy of African Queen. Many local and international brands are now falling over themselves to sign endorsement deals with the music export. For instance, multinationals such as Coca Cola, Guinness Nigeria and Airtel Nigeria signed endorsement deals with 2face worth about N100 million (the endorsement featured 2baba and family), N20 million and N22 million, respectively.

Don Jazzy

The You Are My African Queen crooner has also been smiling to the bank with the proceeds from his Independent National Electoral Commission’s Anti-Electoral Fraud campaign, concerts and shows. To feature in a local concert, he charges between N5 million and N10 million, depending on the show and the organisers.

He pockets about N20 million from one international performance. One of such performances was the ‘2face Plus Special Guests’ show at The Forum, Kentish town, London, United Kingdom. Tickets for these shows are usually sold for between £25 and £35 and in most cases the tickets are sold out.  Most of the concerts also feature other popular young artistes like Dapo Oyebanjo, aka ‘D’Banj’, Ayo Balogun, popularly called Wizkid and David Adeleke, aka Davido, among other notable brands. He also earns income from various radio jingles and television commercials. Apart from featuring in various marketing campaigns for blue chip companies, the R&B/Afro hip hop artiste also makes money as event compère.

The African music act has since gone some steps further, venturing into other businesses in order to sustain his newfound super-rich status. For instance, he owns and runs Hypertek Records and Entertainment, a record label and event management firm. The company, which he floated after he left Kennis Music, has a workforce of about 30. He also owns Rumors Club, an upscale ultra-modern discothèque, bar and restaurant located at Oduduwa Way, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos. The bar is the fun spot of choice for many middle and upper class Nigerians. The bar of the multi-million naira club is also used for birthdays, wedding anniversaries and business meetings.


Despite the huge patronage currently enjoyed by Rumors Club, 2face says he has his eyes set on transforming the place in the mould of other international nightclubs such as 40/40, a US-based nightclub owned by Jay-Z, a popular American rapper.

To actualise his dream, 2face had acquired a multi-million naira property in Festac Town, Lagos, and plans to convert the property, which once belonged to Victor Agali, ex-Super Eagles striker, to another nightclub and another in Victoria Island, Lagos in 2017.

“I am not only an artiste but also an entrepreneur. I want to have my clubs in major cities in Nigeria and one (each) in South Africa, Europe and the US,” he says.

Although he declines to disclose how much he has invested in the nightclub business so far, he says the Hypertek Record arm of his business is his way of giving back to the society that made him.

“With the label, I intend to bring up other talented musicians to showcase their talents alongside the best anywhere in the world,” he says, noting that the platform was one of his non-profit firms for achieving that purpose.

Similarly, D’Banj, another globally sought-after Nigerian artiste, has since positioned DB records, his label, among one of the best in the country. Like 2face, he plans to use it as a platform to groom other young artistes. The stupendously rich Afro hip hop music export, who came into the consciousness of Nigerians, particularly the youths, via his mesmerising dance steps and lyrics, has been counting his blessings since he stormed the industry with a bang in 2005. The ‘Koko Master’, as he is more popularly called by fans, and 2011 BET Award winner for the Best International Act, is currently best known globally for his 2012 summer hit, Oliver Twist, a track that was top two on the singles chart on the UK R&B chart in 2012, shortly after its release. The R&B-cum-hip hop artiste charges about N7 million for a show, depending on location within the country. For international gigs organised in the UK and US, D’Banj charges between N10 million and N15 million per show. He is also the brain behind Koko Mansion, a popular TV reality show aired in Nigeria and the US, aside owning Koko Lounge, a fun spot in the heart of Yaba, Lagos. The lounge, which is decked in opulent red and black, has been a veritable platform for DJs to display their talents.

Like 2face and other notable young Nigerian musicians, D’Banj’s career has been hugely rewarding. Aside raking in millions from album sales and local and international shows, the You Don Make Me Fall in Love crooner is the toast of many blue chip companies desperate to sign him on as their brand ambassador. For instance, he was the brand ambassador for Globacom, a deal worth N70million, for two years; Nutricima and Classic Beverages, valued at N40 million and N20 million, respectively, for a year.



Although he is more of a music producer/promoter than a musician, Michael Ajereh, aka Don Jazzy, has also carved a niche for himself in the lucrative music industry. The multi-award winning music producer, who has worked on award winning tracks for the likes of Darey Art Alade, D’Banj, Wande Coal and Tiwa Savage, among others, in 2011, collaborated with Jay-Z and Kanye West on the production of Lift Off, featuring Beyoncé, another American R&B singer. Forbes recently rated this graduate of Business Management from the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, as the 36th ‘Most powerful celebrity in Africa.’ He signed a deal reportedly worth N20 million in 2012 as brand ambassador for Samsung’s Afro-Pop Home Theatre in Cape Town, South Africa. Don Jazzy also has a clothing line and operates a nightclub.

Despite his privileged background, Olubankole Wellington, popularly known as Banky W, chose the path of R&B music and has transformed himself into a formidable brand with so much money to show for it. A degree in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, New York, did not stop Banky W from music, his first love, and he has never regretted his career choice. Ebute Metta, one of his hit tracks, earned him the love, respect and admiration of music enthusiasts across the country and beyond. As soon as Ebute Metta hit the airwaves, it instantly sent Nigerian youths into a frenzy. Soon, corporate organisations started a scramble for the popular musician, with Samsung Mobile signing an endorsement deal, said to be worth over N100 million, with him. Emmanouil Revmatas, former director, Samsung Electronics, West Africa, said that the mobile arm of the firm picked Banky W because most youths either like his song or his person. 

Beside selling millions of his records and making huge revenue in the process, Banky W has featured in many corporate marketing campaigns. He has produced and featured in projects like Coca Cola Nigeria’s world cup waving flag theme song remix, the TomTom ad campaigns and Microsoft’s Anti-Cybercrime initiative. Aside these deals, he has positioned his EME records, his record label, among the top labels in the country, signing on young talents like Wizkid and Skales, among others. Banky W charges between N2 million and N5 million per show, depending on location and organisers, and averages 70 shows annually, making about N359 million in the process.

Other young Nigerian artistes who are making fortunes from music include Wizkid, Davido, Olamide and several others. Since 2011 when Wizkid clinched a deal with Pepsi Nigeria, reportedly worth N56 million for two years, he has never looked back. The deal was renewed after two years, and shortly after, he also signed an endorsement deal with MTN Nigeria worth N30 million for one year. To get Wizkid to perform at a local concert, organisers pay between N5 million and N10 million. “It is not all about money but N5 million is okay for my show,” he says.

While Davido earned about N30 million from his MTN endorsement deal, Olamide joined the league of American stars like Ross, Ray Jay and DJ Khaled to become the first Nigerian ambassador for an alcoholic drink, when he gave his consent to be the face of Ciroc Ultra-Premium Vodka in Nigeria. For local shows, Davido charges about N3 million, while Olamide charges N2 million per concert.

Some female artistes are also giving their male counterparts a run for their money. Some top female artistes who hold their own in the entertainment turf include Simi, Tiwa Savage, Omawumi Megbele, and Yetunde Alabi, popularly called Sasha, among others. Savage, who began her career in the UK as a background singer for Mary J. Blige, became the first African female Pepsi ambassador and the only female signed on by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, an American record label. While the sexy singer recently renewed her Pepsi deal for another two years, she clinched yet another deal with MTN, which reportedly made her N30 million richer and FO, former African Petroleum.


While the established and up-and-coming young musicians are wealthy and have a larger-than-life image, most of them are known to squander their riches soon after they acquire them. In a bid to constantly remain in the consciousness of their fans and the public, many of them live extravagant lifestyle. For instance, D’Banj confirmed in an interview that he wore Frank Muller wristwatch, which goes for about N8 million. Also, he showed off his suit designed by the Okunoren twins. The suit cost about $25,000 (N4 million).


The Chief Operating Officer, Exclusive Brand limited, a public relations firm, Mr. Tobi Jacobs, explains that the extravagant lifestyles of the young musicians could lead to destruction in the future. He urged the artistes, who are in the habit of squandering their riches on flashy cars and jewellery, to be modest.

According to him, they have a bright future ahead of them and should use the proceeds of their endorsement deals and concerts to invest in profitable businesses.

“They won’t sing for life and they need to build something to fall back on. They should learn from the mistakes of their older colleagues. A miser grows rich by seeming poor; an extravagant man grows poor by seeming rich,” he counsels.

Aside from investing in other businesses to secure their future, the brand expert also cautions that such extravagant lifestyles will have negative effect on their brands, which is their main source of livelihood. He explains that the artistes are endorsed based on their artistry and their fan base, and if the latter drops, based on their lifestyles, “the multi-national firms would stop the deals and they would no longer get invitations for concerts, too. That may lead to the end of their career. They should live a life that is worthy of emulation by the youth and not lead them to destruction.”

Former secretary, Performing Musicians Employers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Uche Nwaneri, attributes the expensive and unsustainable lifestyle of artistes to their inability to manage stardom and refusal to heed the advice of their managers.

“Once they hit stardom, they will be dictating to their managers, who are supposed to protect them,” Nwaneri says.