‘Music is my business’- Mike Manoa, Musician & Entrepreneur.

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You have to be consistent and persistent. If you start a business don’t expect it to be instantly successful or compare to another entrepreneur who has been pouring their blood and sweat for a number of years.

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When you talk about taking risks in the music industry, you have to talk about Mike Manoa. He is a musician, worship pastor and also an entrepreneur. Mike’s story is about grit, tenacity, persistence and consistency despite lack of capital and resources when he was starting, he has been able to build and maintain several business interests. His business interests span from music to fashion to real estate. However we are going to focus on his music and the business side of it.

This is how the interview unfolded.

Please tell us who Mike Manoa is and what he does professionally.

Mike Manoa is a musician and an entrepreneur who has built businesses for the past five years. I run Impact Music School which has graduated three classes now and had a total of 220 students. Were it not for Covid-19 we are supposed to have graduated 400. Moji, Laura Karwirwa, Ben Cyco are some of the artists who have gone through our program. The school is recognized by the government and we give people valid certificates.

I also run a rehearsal studio called SI studios, a recording studio and a sound company called SI Entertainment. SI Entertainment covers event planning, managing and hiring out sound equipment.

What was your dream career growing up?

Growing up I wanted to work as an ambassador. My dream was to work for the United Nations. In fact, after I completed high school I studied International Relations but I dropped out in my second year. I quit because music was always my passion.

How did you end up in music?

I joined Student Arise Ministry (SAM Africa) as a vocalist and travelled to South Korea twice in 2011 where I studied music and music business in a school called Heritage Music School.

How did you start out in your music career and what challenges did you face coming up?

When I came back from South Korea I didn’t have the financial resources to start up a studio. I only had passion and little gear that I had bought from South Korea. We also lacked space to start the studio. We had to start out in with one small classroom at Veteran House in Nairobi’s Central Business District. Our business started with offering classes and with the little equipment I had. That’s we started the sound business. We were now able to build the rest of the businesses from that income.

At what point did you decide to become a music entrepreneur even as you continue being a musician?

First I would like to point out that I have two business partners who are: Sophie Nderitu, my wife and Yvonne Ng’ang’a. When I went to South Korea I only thought of developing my career as a musician but while I was there, I noticed people also studied music business. Armed with that exposure I decided to adopt that model here. We have been able to derive a livelihood from it since and also create job opportunities.

They say if you want to be successful in business you should solve a problem. What problem did you seek to solve in the music industry?

My dream was to create employment through this skill that I love. The passion I have for music drove me to wake up early in the morning and go teach a class or hire out sound equipment. Even without someone pushing me, I do record singers in the studios, plan and manage concerts.

What are the future plans for your business?

We plan on building our own complex in our own land. The Impact School of Music will have boarding facilities where students will actually board for 3 months and study for short courses in music. The school will also be equipped with amphitheaters for people to hold concerts and recordings. Our plan is to have students launch their music careers from that school. In return we want to create employment opportunities for many music teachers and instructors.

How do you balance being a musician and the business side of music?

Having my own studio makes it easy for me because I am able to record my songs without having to pay anyone. We have an arrangement with the resident producer which makes it easy and affordable for me to produce my music. I plan to grow my fanbase through my music in the coming days. My business supports my music and makes it easy for me to grow my craft.

And I would like to advise other musicians that if you don’t have money to make your music, never give up. Your music will one day pay off.

Could you analyze the business aspect of the music industry in Kenya and is there an opportunity for it to grow?

Yes there is because the music business in Kenya is largely untapped. In my opinion there is space for every musician to build a successful career and make money, not just from their music but also from value addition in music. As a musician I have been able to create capital from other aspects of music aside from just making music.

There are so many young musicians coming up. How about we create opportunities for them to teach music and as a result create job opportunities. In my analysis the business aspect of music in Kenya is still latent and we should open our minds to tap into it.

What can policy makers do to ensure that the music industry grows organically to compete with South Africa and Nigeria?

First, musicians should have their own SACCO. Secondly, the government should start music schools in all the 47 counties because we still have untapped talent at the grassroots level. For instance, in South Africa, there are music schools all over and people are paid to teach, write music, produce and even perform. For instance, a songwriter in South Africa is paid $1000 for writing alone. The government should support the art of music by investing more resources into it.

What’s your advice for other entrepreneurs?

You have to be consistent and persistent. If you start a business don’t expect it to be instantly successful or compare to another entrepreneur who has been pouring their blood and sweat for a number of years. I know there are businesses which have had to close down because of Covid-19 but I would like to tell them that the vision never dies. The doors to your business may be closed but you have to keep the vision alive and open.

Ensure that your goal and mission should go beyond money and create opportunities for other people. If your vision only benefits you alone, it is a small one.

What’s your favorite song on your latest album “Make Room”?

The theme of the album is creating space for God to dwell and one of my favorite songs is “Nafasi” which will be released soon. But I also love the song Make Room which is actually on Youtube.

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    ASINDU | November 11, 2020 09:27

    keep it up man

    Ssegantebuka | November 11, 2020 07:22

    Nice job sibling

    Samuel maina | November 10, 2020 18:39

    Inspiring feeling panic

    Nawaho | November 09, 2020 10:10


    Akunda | November 08, 2020 15:36


    Gibson | November 07, 2020 13:45

    I wish it was me but it's not my time..so great and am happy to hear this.

    David | November 07, 2020 08:15


    Evans | November 06, 2020 14:56

    Quite inspiring young man.I wish you the very best of luck in your endeavors.Just continue inspiring others as you are currently doing.

    Michael | November 06, 2020 05:42

    Work smart

    MARY | November 05, 2020 23:28

    Inspirational. This can be extrapolated to any other field. Bravo

    Everlyne | November 05, 2020 10:42

    God is good

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    Julio | November 08, 2020 13:50

    All the time

    Lovenah | November 05, 2020 08:06

    I love this!!!!very inspiring

    Edward | November 05, 2020 07:56

    Inspiring indeed

    Geoffrey | November 05, 2020 06:46

    Inspirational .I have been struggling too and have good music

    MOSES | November 05, 2020 03:31


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