Drama, drama, drama. Apparently music is not working for Africa’s digital entertainment powerhouse iROKO Partners. iROKING, the company’s Spotify clone, may soon be no more.
Considered one of Nigeria’s leading digital music platforms, it showcases some of the country’s most prolific and exciting artists. Since launch, the platform clailms to have recorded over 350-million YouTube hits for its artists and over 1.1-million users downloading tracks from its online and mobi platforms every month.
According to a press release by the company, it is “streamlining” its music offering by distributing its operations to its global office rather than a core team in Lagos, Nigeria.
“We remain committed to our artists and our users and continue on our mission to support and develop digital distribution for Nigerian artists,” says the statement.
This isn’t quite the case says the newly ousted iROKING CEO, Michael Ugwu, who has run the music platform since its launch.
Ugwu was apparently let go for “gross misconduct” and breaching his noncompete.
“He [Ugwu] was dismissed earlier this month with immediate effect for gross misconduct. It came to light that, whilst under contract and salary of iROKING, Michael Ugwu set up and launched his own digital music platform, in direct competition with iROKING,” says IROKO Partners.
Ugwu says he was let go because the company is looking to get out of the music game, citing a Whatsapp message from Bastian Gotter, one of the iROKO Partners founders.
“In the land of iROKO I guess restructuring means getting out of a sector. Nigerian artists please beware of iROKO Partners apparent commitment to developing the digital distribution space,” says Ugwu.
He also says that “a decision to wind down iROKING was taken before the iROKO management ‘apparently’ fired me. I was verbally asked to become COO of Spark Ltd which I summarily refused stating my intention to stay in the music space,” says Ugwu.
The former CEO also denies having violated any noncompete and demands that iROKO show him proof.
He also states that things are not all well in the IROKO family with mass exodus of staff having exited the company because they “felt it was safer to seek employment elsewhere”.
Last year iROKO Partners Lagos had circa 80 staff, now there are circa 15 remaining. At a time many of us were loyal to the iROKO cause, however serious structural issues have arisen so much so that many have felt it safer to find employment elsewhere. I wish the remaining staff members and management the best of luck in their future endeavours.
Credit: Venture Burn