When you ponder on the most influential people in the Nigerian and African entertainment scene at large, whether you’re talking about artists, actors, content creators/curators, record producers, writers or directors, there’s someone you cannot help but mention—that someone is Don Jazzy. Don Jazzy has played a variety of roles in Nigeria’s music industry and he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down any time soon.
Don Jazzy first appeared in the entertainment scene in 2002 and later went on to collaborate with D’Banj to form Mo’ Hits Records. Two years later, he produced No Long Thing and Rundown/Funk You Up. And it was also around this period that Don Jazzy developed his unforgettable producer tag, “It’s Don Jazzy Again”. He was later employed by Kanye West in 2011 as a producer at Very Good Beatz where he worked with Jay-Z and Kanye on the production of Lift Off, featuring Beyoncé on the Watch The Throne album which was released on 8 August 2011. Not long after, Don Jazzy and D’Banj confirmed their breakup citing artistic differences.
In 2012, Don Jazzy announced the creation of the entertainment powerhouse we all know and love, Mavin Records. Mavin Records has been responsible for the grooming of some of the best acts out of the Nigerian music industry which include: Rema, Tiwa Savage, Reekado Banks, Korede Bello, Johnny Drille, Ayra Starr, Boy Spyce, and Wande Coal amongst others. Don Jazzy is also no stranger to the movie scene as he appeared in Moses Inwang’s 2012 Nollywood movie The Last 3 Digits.
In recent years, with the signing of new school artists like Ayra Starr, Rema, Maggix, Boy Spyce, and Crayon, Don Jazzy has taken a more youth-centric approach in the music industry. He’s playing the long game by recruiting these youngsters with potentially long shelf lives to protect the label’s future. In a sense, it feels like surrounding himself with this youthful energy is rubbing off on him. Although Don Jazzy has always been a friendly character, we now see it on a more visible scale. He’s taken a comical approach to social media that’s as strategic as it is authentic.
As a record producer, Don Jazzy has managed to grow his social media following to over 22 million, with his Instagram accounting for over 60% of the total number. His approach to social media, personal branding, community, and relationship building as major tools to market the artists under his tutelage needs to be studied. Some months ago, he launched his YouTube channel which he promoted alongside a competition he was putting on. As a new YouTuber himself, he wanted to help out budding YouTubers and asked them to make videos explaining what their channel is, what kind of content they create, and what the prize money—1 million naira—would do for them.
Before becoming a creator himself, Don Jazzy did something really smart and commendable: he went through the route of a curator by turning his Instagram into a hub for content from various skit makers and creatives across the country. He wasn’t an unknown figure: he already had an audience. He kept his followers entertained by re-uploading content from other creators whilst helping promote these creators and appreciating their efforts. Don Jazzy reuploading these posts to his page became its own thing; these creators would now intentionally tag Don Jazzy in their content hoping he would see their posts and share them with his audience. Don Jazzy didn’t invent reuploading or content curation, but the way he’s leveraged it to grow his influence offers an important lesson.
When he began reposting other creators’ content to his personal Instagram, he probably wasn’t expecting it to become a whole thing. Today, Don Jazzy has featured in various skits with the likes of Broda Shaggi and Mr Macaroni, and he frequently goes on various online shows and interviews to participate in fun challenges, answer questions, and display his comical personality. What this inevitably does for Don Jazzy and Mavin Records is it keeps him and his associates remain at the top of people’s minds. This is a marketing tactic known as top-of-mind awareness. Top-of-mind awareness is a concept in consumer behavior, marketing research, and marketing communications that measures how well brands rank in the minds of consumers.
In the music industry, a lot of the spotlight and attention is often placed on just the artists, with record producers being under-appreciated or unrecognized. In pursuit of this recognition, some record producers have also dabbled with performing; Pheelz and Young John are good examples of this. However, Don Jazzy has blazed a different trail. Don Jazzy has gone from record producer to arguably become one of the most prominent content curators in Nigeria and Africa, with his posts garnering massive amounts of engagement and a repost from him helping skyrocket the careers of budding creators. These creators also show their appreciation most times by helping him promote the music of his artists and using their songs in the content they create as a way of saying “thank you”.
Mavin recently unveiled the latest addition to their roster, Bayanni, and the announcement video featured Mr Funny and Brain Jotter. The unveiling process tapped the influence that these two creators possess and it also took advantage of the comical energy they bring to the table. This approach sparked reactions across social media and this boosted the life span of the announcement. After showing the creative community so much love it was almost predictable that working hand in hand with the community on major projects would be the next logical step.
Music marketing has changed and Don Jazzy knows this. The attention of the people online is mostly in the hands of creators and he hasn’t latched on to this. Not only has he leveraged his unique position and influence in the music industry to break into the creative scene, but he has also championed the growth of many upcoming creators which in turn has left him in their good graces. With his status and relationships, Don Jazzy is in the best position there is to promote his music and the music of his artists, which is why Mavin-affiliated projects and singles often top charts across multiple streaming platforms in the country further validating Don Jazzy’s unique position as a certified influencer and content curator.