7 March 2014

Ghana: Young Entrepreneurs Search for Stars

Kobby Koomson co-founded Moonlight Café to reach out to young underground artists and discover new talent in music, poetry and the spoken word. Koomson and his partner, Sydney Sam, believe that creativity must replace financial gains as the main driver of entertainment.

"Our primary focus is to change the face of entertainment in Ghana and Africa in the medium term," says Koomson, "because entertainment here has become more of a financial thing than for the sake of the art.

"People go into it because they have talent and they want to make money. It doesn't come with the desire to do better than what is already there. There is less creativity.

"So we are trying to bring back the feeling of creativity in entertainment."

Moonlight Café is born at Kwame Nkrumah University

It all began three years ago when two college freshmen, Koomson and Sam decided to turn their love of music and poetry into a public show on their university campus. And with a shoestring budget they pulled out of their own pockets, Moonlight Café was born.

Koomson describes he and his former college roommate, Sam, as lovers of music and poetry. "I used to sing a little when I was in high school and I used to dabble in poetry, too," Koomson says.

A popular rapper, M'anifest, was named best rapper at the 2012 Ghana Music Awards. He sings for an enthusiastic crowd at Monlight Café event at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi.

They registered Moonlight Café with the student club at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and later on other college campuses.

"We do it for the students as part of the student club, so we don't need to go outside campus to get any permission. If we need we get it from the school authorities," Koomson says, "we are good to go."

Quickly they recreated their model on two other Ghana college campuses and with teams of organizers on each campus they spread the word to audiences and potential new performers through social media and on public radio.

Koosman and Sam had ambitions beyond their college campus and Moonlight Café was quick to be reproduced on two other campuses across the country. Through social media and public radio, teams of organizers reach out to far audiences and potential performers.

"We have teams on every campus we operate on, so fundamentally the teams on campuses go around doing publicity for the artists who sign up."

Moonlight now looks for new stars

"What we did in the first two years was to put on performers who are already known," says Koomson. "Popular and famous artists who get people to come to the shows.

"But this year, we have realized that the show itself has gotten to a point where it gets people to come either way, so we are dropping the whole concept of using star artists."

The new strategy is to focus on the upcoming artists so that we can build and develop their talent much better. Now they hold auditions for all of their new performers.

"It's really social media that help us reach them," Koomson says. "From time to time we go on radio shows and they help us go on the air to get new artists.

"And as long as the art is good and the talent is there."

The duo helps to create the branding for new artists and their shows to give them more exposure in the growing Ghana entertainment industry. Koomson and Sam want to change the face of the country's entertainment industry.

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