At 24, the young music video director, Scilla Owusu already counts A-lists stars such as Sarkodie, Stonebwoy, Burna Boy, and Fuse ODG among her clients. She has also worked with global brands such as Patoranking, Mr Eazi & Davido. Scilla's acuity, storytelling skills, creative capacity, and meticulousness have transformed the music industry, rightly positioning audio-visuals as an essential element of music marketing. Across the continent, Scilla's work is recognized as a benchmark for creating quality and captivating video content, organically earning her that enviable spot as the front figure in a male dominated-sphere. Fresh from featuring on the Forbes 2020 list of Africa's 30 under 30, the award-winning screenplay writer returned to Ghana and has within the two years been organizing youth-led workshops infusing professional expertise to improve knowledge, experience, and job opportunities within the creative industry in Africa through her social youth impact organization Youngtrepreneurs.
Youngtrepreneurs is a social youth impact organisation. They give creatives opportunities to be seen, heard, and compensated for the long-term through their creative vocational-led workshops in different creative sectors. Their goals are to emphasise practical techniques and learning on the ground in real-life scenarios.
Songtrust works closely with Scilla and the work she's doing at Youngtrepreneurs to bring music publishing administration to the many music creators that she interacts with. We caught up with Scilla to learn more about how she got started, what goals she has for Youngtrepreneurs, and where she hopes to see change in the music industry.
WHAT OR WHO INSPIRED YOU TO WORK WITHIN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY AND ADVOCATE FOR OTHER MUSIC CREATORS?
My journey into the music industry was unintentional. I initially started with film-making through writing and producing web series and short films after college. A year later, my brother encouraged me to produce music videos and from there, I stepped into the music industry. Years later, I started working as a video director. My love for music and multi-genres encouraged me to stay in the industry and advocate for others.
WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT GOALS FOR YOU AND YOUR COMMUNITY?
The goals I aim to achieve are to continue encouraging young African creatives in learning the business side of their craft and taking risks. I am a firm believer that learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere. I aim to do this by continuing to create more vocational workshops through my organisation, Youngtrepreneurs. Taking risks in my career is what has helped me to get to where I am today. For my community, I hope to continue contributing to the Ghanaian economy with the goal of expanding later into neighbouring African countries.
YOU RECENTLY PRODUCED AND HOSTED A SUCCESSFUL PRODUCER WORKSHOP, YOUNGTREPRENEURS. WHAT WAS THE MAIN GOAL BEHIND THE WORKSHOP AND HOW DID YOU MEASURE ITS SUCCESS?
The main goal behind our music producers workshop was to help equip producers with how to be business savvy. Furthermore, we also vetted the best talents to connect them with career opportunities, resources, and work experience to thrive in their entrepreneurial journey. Creatives were presented with the opportunity to practise techniques and learn on the ground based on real-life scenarios through collaboration. A practical example was by creating a 60 second instrumental from scratch within 60 minutes and so much more. Prior to the workshop, we were able to put things in place in order to measure the success of the workshop once it was complete by inviting each producer to set goals of what they wanted to achieve or learn personally at the end of the workshop and seeing if they achieved it. Based on the feedback and testimonials, 85% of producers' needs and expectations were met fully.
WHAT ELSE DO YOUNGTREPRENEURS OFFER BESIDES MUSIC TRAINING? WHAT ABOUT YOUR OFFERING IS SO APPEALING TO YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS?
Besides music training, Youngtrepreneurs offers a whole lot. Every year we focus on a different creative department and bring in the right industry professionals, unforgettable work experiences, and provide them with access to resources. Aside from music, we have also held a directing and cinematography workshop. By tackling different genres in the creative industry, we are gradually contributing to creating an environment where young creatives can thrive.
This is because our aim is to train young entrepreneurs to become confident in their fields and be able to bring their visions and ideas to life. What also makes us appealing is we continue to support our talents by presenting them with new, exciting, and sometimes life-changing opportunities by partnering with companies to give them access to tools and platforms that they can benefit from for 6-12 months and beyond after the workshop is complete.
WHAT IS THE PACE OF ACTIVITY IN GHANA AND WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED WHILE SPURRING YOUNGTREPRENEURS INTO ACTION?
The pace of activity in Ghana is steady. One challenge I have faced while spurring Youngtrepreneurs into action is working with established musicians. Depending on the nature of the workshop, we partner with an established musician within that field to help extend their fan base and network with our winning talent to maximise their exposure and elevate their career. However, sometimes the established musician can come across as unreliable or not fulfill their duty within a timely manner, which has sometimes prevented us from meeting our initial targets and deadlines.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU TO EDUCATE YOUNG MUSIC PROFESSIONALS ABOUT THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?
It is very important to Youngtrepreneurs to educate young music professionals about the music industry because “we can't build the future for our youth but we can build our youth for the future,” as Franklin D. Roosevelt said. It is called show business for a reason and it is important to be just as knowledgeable about the business side of the industry as much as the creative side. The better educated they are, the easier it will be to develop their career in the long-term and not remain stagnant.
THROUGH YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT'S THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY TO PROVIDE THIS INFORMATION TO YOUNG MUSIC CREATORS? HAVE YOU NOTICED ANY TRENDS IN HOW TO BEST PROVIDE THIS INFORMATION, FOR EXAMPLE THROUGH VIDEOS, DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCES, ETC?
Through my experience, the most effective way to provide this information to young music creators is through workshops. The music industry can be very cutthroat, and, as we know, confidence is very important at every stage of life. Workshops provide you with space to speak publicly, interact, and network with individuals whose interests align with yours. Having real-life demonstrations with solutions help to prepare young creators for the real world. Downloadable resources, worksheets, and booklets are also very helpful because it allows music creators to go over information in their own time as not everyone learns and absorbs information at the same pace.
WITHIN YOUR COMMUNITIES, HOW OFTEN IS MUSIC PUBLISHING DISCUSSED? IF NOT OFTEN, WHY IS THAT?
Within my community, music publishing is rarely discussed. The reason being is that we do not have actively running institutions that make it their duty to educate music creators. The infrastructure is not built for publishing to thrive in Ghana, so creators feel like it is pointless. The older generation of artists became successful in their own right without publishing, so they do not think it is necessary. However, this is clearly not the case. I find that sometimes creatives in Ghana or Africa, in general, limit themselves and think their music only has to target the specific country that they create in. Music is a universal language and can be shared anywhere. Educating creators on publishing can benefit them in the long term by sustaining them financially. A great example would be what we have seen in the pandemic, as the majority of people relied heavily on digital resources to sustain them.
HOW DID YOU COME ACROSS SONGTRUST?
I was introduced to Songtrust by my friend Kingsley who is the founder and music executive for The Rare Art Co. We were having a discussion on publishing in Africa and he mentioned Songtrust. He spoke about the benefits of using Songtrust for his own musicians and producers he manages in Ghana and how the platform has helped them in their career thus far. He introduced me via email to Mandy Aubry, the Director of Business Development, EMA & APAC of Songtrust, and the rest was history. It was an amazing introduction, after a year and a half of planning Mandy has been so resourceful, patient, and cooperative. She is a huge contributing factor to our producer’s workshop.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND SONGTRUST TO MUSIC CREATORS? IF YES, WHY?
I would wholeheartedly recommend Songtrust to music creators. My reason being is that the company makes it their mission to find your missing royalties. That was the main aspect that attracted me to Songtrust the most. It is very common for songs to become viral, but the numbers are not reflected in your account because you didn’t register your song or know about publishing. This platform is so helpful to creators, and it is good to know it is “not always too late.” Furthermore, the platform is so efficient and easy to use. Songtrust pretty much does all the work for you so you don’t have to. After you have registered your song, Songtrust automatically manages the administration of music publishing assets, performing rights, and digital licensing, and many more.
THE MUSIC INDUSTRY LANDSCAPE IS CHANGING AND EVOLVING, PERHAPS MORE IN THE PAST FEW YEARS THAN THE LAST DECADE. WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO SEE IN THE FUTURE OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY? HOW CAN MUSIC CREATORS, ESPECIALLY THE NEW GENERATION, BETTER ADVOCATE FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR FELLOW ARTISTS?
For the future of the music industry, I hope to see more workshops in Africa specifically focusing on publishing and royalty information. Now, more than ever, African music especially, is becoming global and it’s very important that those two things are in place in order to protect music creators. New music creators from the new generation can better advocate for themselves by participating in workshops, masterclasses, developing their audience, educating themselves on the business, collaboration, outreach, and so on.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR YOUNGTREPRENEURS?
The next step for Youngtrepreneurs is to extend our workshops physically into neighbouring countries, such as Nigeria, and countries in East Africa. The overall goal is to continue to enrich as many young creative talents across all aspects of creative genres and build the youth of the future.