In this week’s edition of Center Stage, I bring you my conversation with Charlotte Bwana, a native of Kenya who moved to Nigeria to lead Audiomack’s expansion in Africa. Charlotte can best be described as a gentle soul with a fierce personality and a genuine love for the music and entertainment industry in Africa.
I am bringing Charlotte to Center Stage because she has made such a valuable contribution to Africa’s highly acclaimed music industry. At Audiomack Africa, Charlotte leads business development and media partnerships and is responsible for connecting creators, listeners and brands.
Last month, Charlotte announced her membership in Registration Academy Member Class of 2021.
Let’s dive in.
In your own words, what exactly is business development?
Business development is not selling.
In my role, business development means identifying and developing growth opportunities that will benefit Audiomack internally and forging mutually beneficial partnerships with external parties. I come up with ideas that we can implement as a business and also find out how those ideas can benefit Audiomack and other parties involved.
Why is business development important in the African music industry?
Remember, business development is about building value-added relationships and the entertainment industry is very people-oriented.
Audiomack is in the media industry, but we are also in the entertainment industry. This means that we are dealing with three groups of people: creators (musical artists), listeners (fans) and partners (brands). Therefore, in order to grow as a business, we need to build relationships with these groups of people.
Business development is important because it is the only way to find growth opportunities and successfully market Audiomack creators to our listeners and potential partner brands.
What are the three professional qualities that any business development manager needs in their job?
communication skills for sure! Why? Because you talk to different people every day. You need to speak with your team – the team that helps you get the job done – to make sure everyone is aligned. You need to build relationships with external parties, such as your partners and creators. You need to develop persuasive and conversational oral skills so that you can close deals and communicate deadlines and deadlines effectively.
You need business intelligence skills. Do you have any idea of ââthe market you are in? Have you figured out how to reach your target audience? Have you done extensive research on your competition? The market is constantly changing; what exists today may not be there tomorrow. It is therefore essential to always stay connected to your market.
The last quality is project management. Business development leaders must be exceptional project managers. You need to learn how to delegate and make sure every project has a start and end date. It is also crucial to evaluate the performance of each completed project: what was the result? What was the return on investment (return on investment)? What did we do well? What lessons can we learn from the failures we experienced while carrying out this project?
What effective business development tactics can you share with us?
I only have one tactic to share – hope I’m okay.
Before entering a room to meet a person or organization, show interest. Take an interest in this person, do your research, and seem interested in everything that company does in their field. Before approaching a brand or a potential designer, I research its values, mission, vision and objectives. Then I walk into each meeting ready to listen and to be heard.
So, is this the hack?
This is the hack. To be interested.
You also manage media partnerships at Audiomack. How do you manage to balance the two roles?
Coffee! Lots of coffee. I am an expert delegator. You have a team for a reason – you can’t do it all. Once you’ve done your part, find another team member who can handle another moving room.
I also learned the art of saying “noâWhen I have a lot of deliverables on my table. Honestly, there isn’t a big difference between the two roles. Yet I also know the difference between the way I operate as a business development manager and media partnerships manager.
How to develop a successful media partnership?
I’ll share two things:
Know your partner’s target audience and make sure their goals match your business goals. When there is alignment between the two parties, a successful partnership will quickly form.
Establish what you need from this partnership. Clearly communicate the growth opportunities, the benefits, what you need from your partner and what you bring to the table.
How are you evolving in your role? What do you listen to, watch or read?
I listen to a lot of music, especially different musical genres from Africa.
Every morning I read trade articles from local and global publications. For example, I read CNN Affairs, Bloomberg Business Week, and Business intern. In addition, I try to devote at least an hour and a half to find out what is happening in global business centers.
What do you like most about your role?
To meet new people. It’s always fun and exciting to meet people from different backgrounds and work in exciting industries. I also travel a lot more and see other parts of the world through colored lenses.
I like to come up with ideas that change culture at Audiomack. So when we created the partnership with MTN, I was really excited to have a telephone company join us in making music streaming more accessible and affordable.
I like being able to tell African stories from an African perspective. At Audiomack, we give creators the freedom to be heard through the music they create and share on our platform. We make music about our food, our clothes, our communities and our daily life.
Tell us about some of your favorite social media accounts.
I barely spend time on social networks because I get lost in my work. But I love Instagram because I love to consume aesthetic photos.
Twitter is also my jam. You can tweet something, and someone in America or Antigua will see it and find it reliable. Sometimes you find solace from strangers online or share crazy stories with your followers, and it’s totally relaxed. Twitter has made the world a global village, and I really enjoy using it.
Would you rather go to a brunch of the day in Ghana or a Grammy listening party in LA?
Please, my passport is ready, and Rihanna is waiting for me! I love Ghana, but Rihanna is waiting for me.
What does being a part of the Recording Academy 2021 class mean to you?
Wow. This is the first time someone has asked me what the invitation means to me.
First of all, it reflects all the work I have put into the entertainment industry in Africa. Second, it is a reflection of my dedication to showcasing Africa’s diverse music scene.
It also means that I have the opportunity to be a thought leader in my community and to celebrate African music on a bigger platform. The Grammys are the bar of the music; being a member of the Recording Academy is a victory for music on the continent.
What excites you about the future of music and dance in Africa?
The whole world is on the dance floor right now, listening to African music.
What excites me is that a generation of young people is growing up with African music as the soundtrack of their childhood.
My friends, there is a lot of work to be done, but we are doing so much better.