Here is the second installment of our “Day Off with Sadiq” series—a three-part interview with 3Music Awards CEO Sadiq Abdullai Abu, on the scheme’s intention, its place in Ghana’s event and awards ecosystem, and a behind-the-scenes walk through this year’s event. (Read part 1 here.)
Sadiq lowers his hands, and carries on his elaborate anatomization of the 3Music Awards stencil. His next point relates to a clean artistic brand. 3Music aims at being “refreshingly different.” It is why so much time went into the entire imagery of the brand he says. Here too, insight is what will drive you.
There’s also brand positioning and knowledge about the space and ecosystem, something which would reveal to you that it is most likely in your interest to not fall too much on partner brands in the first couple of years, as they’re very likely to “dilute your brand.”
The goal must be to establish your brand position and experience strongly, before resorting to them—by which time they’d have decided if using your brand as a vehicle is strategically beneficial or not.
Again, one cannot undermine the value of solid research. Sadiq observes, that in how this year’s VGMAs reflected 3Music’s nominations for instance, there’s some form of validation. 3Music wasn’t founded to challenge the VGMAs though, he stresses. “We are not here to compete!”
Of course, “in terms of a public perspective, they would think that—but we [3Music] are here to chart our own path. And that’s why you see certain differences. Ultimately, “we believe that we can co-exist,” he adds, before rising to turn off the air conditioner, which has been humming above the window to our right; yawning the entire trip. He must have noticed my arms tremble under the cold. Perhaps, he too has had enough of the cold breeze the apparatus has been spewing for a while. He returns to his spot on the couch, and rubs a slightly bulging belly under his shirt. He sighs and coughs again, covering his mouth with a fist.
Sadiq may be poster boy for 3Music, but there’s an entire contingent of bright brains behind the enterprise. The Year 2 project, he acknowledges, rested on the shoulders of experienced hands as much as it relied on the vision, spirit, and drive of younger folk. This balance has evidently culminated into something special.
Also, his team’s “penchant, resolve, and disposition, in terms of being progressive enough to listen and gather feedback” has also drawn experts and “closet consultants” from even competing brands to offer direction where necessary.
3Music Vs. Fantasy Dome
On both occasions, the awards have come off at the Fantasy Dome, Trade Fair Centre—Accra. Virgin territory, it is an option the 3Music organisation settled on as a consequence of its “audacious target” and “quest to be totally different.”
To Sadiq, the intent to be different must be reflected in the scheme’s various touchpoints; communication, how visuals are represented, how nominees are announced, voting mechanisms and how the whole experience is physically activated.
Until the Fantasy Dome, the only other options were the Accra International Conference Centre or the National Theatre, which inadvertently would “invoke memories of what we wanted to be different for.”
Sadiq likens the Fantasy Dome to a canvas; a plain sheet to curate whatever experience producers can imagine: tables, VVIP settings, infinite props. “The Fantasy Dome gives us the opportunity to think and dream as much as we want.
“Edey like bare land—it gets you thinking […] if you have a house, you’re limited to that house and whatever space has been created. Regardless of whatever challenges they [Fantasy Dome] have, for all creative event producers, that’s the place to go.”
He goes on; a big dreamy smile lining his face: “it’s big, it’s spacious, and it has depth—you can do everything you want to do.”
But what about the financial muscle it requires to achieve that level of radical creativity?
The response is that of a typical creative: money has never been an obstacle. “We think of ideas before we even think about money. We are better off thinking about an idea first; and then coming back to consider how feasible it is.
“You’ll be surprised that some of the things you’ll do may not even require money; just a combination of ideas and willingness by others to make it happen.”
That’s how his team has prevailed. “We’ve thrived on being crazily optimistic, than to solely focus on the resources we have; because we do realise that we can go up and above ourselves.
This year, the awards was supposed to have included a whole gala, an elaborate Obrafour throw-back set which was going to generate massive talkability; a “purple room,” to cater to artists backstage, a customized staircase for the Adina/ Akwaboah set, even an entirely different intention for the Shatta Wale opening set. All these had been fleshed out elaborately, and multiple dry runs had been held to tighten all loose ends.
A Red Bull commercial pops on the television, invoking uncomfortable chuckling between us; chilling memory too. In the buildup to the event, when there was so much to do in so little time, the energy drink was a trusted companion –all he wanted in terms of nutriment.
It would also turn out to be the death of him.
“The world sometimes rewards luck instead of hard work, but it always rewards out-of-the-world thinking,” opines Sadiq.
The day had arrived. Finally, their ingenuity and dedication to the 3Music Awards vision was going to be rewarded.
They were set to go.
A convoy of vehicles conveying Shatta Wale zoomed through the main entrance of the Trade Fair Centre. Patrons loitering about the auditorium scrambled into the hall. They wouldn’t want to miss even a second of Shatta’s unprecedented performance, which would effectively mark the commencement of proceedings.
Yet, at that very moment, a car carrying a sinking Sadiq sped out of the venue, heading to a hospital nearby. Reason: a few minutes to show time, he had been found sprawled on a pile of boxes—unconscious.
Not good. Not good.