Benjamin: I dropped the mic to promote music talents

Benjamin: I dropped the mic to promote music talents
Promoter Benjamin.

In a tell-all interview with SARAH OSMAN, Oliver Mori Benjamin narrates how he scaled the ladder to the summit of being one of the leading music promoters. It was a journey that took miles to see success and he is still relentless.

Sarah: Who is Oliver Benjamin?

Roberto:  Thank you for the interview. My name is Oliver Mori Benjamin and I am commonly known as ‘Promoter Roberto.’ I was born in Juba, moved to Khartoum and then to Egypt where I grew up. In terms of education, I have a diploma in communication and public relations from Juba University and now pursuing another diploma in international relations at Cavendish university in Uganda and soon graduate.

Sarah: Let’s talk entertainment, when did you embark on this journey?

Roberto:  I did my first concert on February 14, 2015, and it was an album launch that was held at Bros resort under Dream Melody Promotion company. Joseph was the artist in the picture and I still recall the massive attendance by people from different walks of life.

     After that time, I went off the scene a bit. Life gave me a lemon and I made lemonade out of it and did not think I would get back to entertainment again but here we are back like I never left. My new company is called Dream Hope Entertainment.

Sarah: From the time you left the entertainment in 2015, what prompted you to make a comeback, was it lagging that you came to the rescue?

Roberto: I come from a musical background. I started singing back in the days in church. My comeback was to relinquish the fraternity. I took the initiative to try and take our music to the world and get to be known by the outside world.

    My first comeback project was with John Frog where I took him to India to perform and be known as well. The reception was remarkable. I must say that to people’s surprise, they didn’t know that South Sudan could produce such talent.

Sarah: What challenges have you encountered as a stakeholder in the entertainment world and how did you overcome them?

Roberto: Challenges are in every profession. I personally take them as a learning process and they make me even perform better than I was before. The first challenge I got was with some artists who demand a lot of money not knowing that we are here to help one another. They see us as a source of income, which makes our music to lag behind. I’m pretty sure that we are still facing this until they realise that we mean no harm but growth for the industry.

Sarah: You recently took John Frog to India and Alijomah to Egypt to perform and these are by far among the favourite artists loved by fans. They are popular in the sense that they also charge differently due to their demand. What’s the least promoter Roberto can pay an artist for a performance?

Roberto: The least I can give an artist is 2000$ and the highest is 3500$ depending on the artist.

Sarah: Under Dream Hope company, what are your core values and mission in this country where entertainment is important. Are you here to bag the cash or have you got other motives?

Roberto: I am the kind of promoter who came to the industry with a budget to work with and I bet I am the only one with the strategy if not mistaken. I do not want it to diminish; I want it to keep doing the work. I’m not in the business to make profits but rather to lift the talents high for as long as its within the allocated budget. Sometimes people make mistakes and end up misusing the cash allocated for a specific activity hence leading them in losses. I am always satisfied with what I have at hand because no one knows what tomorrow entails.

     I have come across a question about artists who are signed under my company and to clear the air, for now, no one is being managed under me. It is the reason my team and I are organising a talent show to help us get the cream del a cream and you never know one thing might lead to another.

Sarah: All your social media handles almost have posted about the upcoming talent show. We once had one that was organized by Vivacel by then but it died. What’s so unique that the revelers should anticipate for?

Roberto: I was part of the previous talent show alongside my colleagues Lam Tunguar and Triple X Bol Sultan and unfortunately, they both ventured into politics as I also went a different direction. That is why it died. But here I am to revive it like it never before. The only difference it has is that the name will differ from the previous one which was called talent search.

Sarah: South Sudan is diverse with different creatives among them dancers, poets, singers, comedians and spoken word artists. What talent is Dream Hope entertainment looking for?

Roberto: We are being particular as management of this upcoming event and we are looking at only singers as we also plan for others in the long run.

    We shared a number with all media houses and social media for people to get registered and be part of this show. Once registration is done, we will select only 12 people who will compete against each other for the grand prize. We are authentic and unique in our way. The winner, first and second runner will be awarded prizes courtesy of our entertainment company.

Sarah: What strategy are you using to unite the entertainers as we speak right now, there’s a lot of hatred and disunity amongst them.

Roberto: The reason for this talent show is to bring all of us under one umbrella. This one of a kind and entails transparency in fact the 3 winners will automatically get to be signed under my record label

Sarah: As a promoter who has studied the industry for years, what’s your take on the artist union in terms of governance and making sure that everyone in the arts industry enjoys liberty.

Roberto: According to me, I think the union has a long way to go and plenty to put in place. If and only they can push for the media bill to be debated and passed at the legislative assembly, it would be for our good. Proper regulations are put in place for the stakeholders to follow and in the end helps the artist benefit through their music.

Sarah: As we wind up, some artists keep complaining about the penny they are given whenever a foreign artist jets into the country. The reason they are given is that they are giving them a platform. Is that not an exploitation of talent?

Roberto: We have witnessed a couple of them come into the country like Ruger, Diamond Platinumz, Harmonize, Spice Diana, Mejja just to mention but a few. These people also started from scratch to where they are today. My humble request to our artists is that for now they should enjoy and utilise every opportunity given today in preparation for what the future holds. There is no condition that is permanent, when their time to shine comes, the sky is always the limit

Sarah: What do you listen to during your free time?

Roberto: In South Sudan I love listening to Coco San’s music. In fact, we might work on some projects together if there need be.

Sarah: Any final remarks to people in the entertainment sector?

Roberto: All I can say is that the industry still lacks a lot. We need to be united in order for us to achieve a lot of milestones together. The body that can do that is the artists union. We still have a couple of things to put right and this has to be done collectively.