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Managing Chameleone

IN CHARGE OF TALENT: Robert Nkuke aka Mutima, is in charge of singer Jose Chameleone’s affairs.  He tells the story of how he met Chameleone, and what his job entails, writes Emmy Omongin

How did you meet Jose Chameleone?
The first time I talked to Chameleone was on March 25, 2012. I had a show in Buloba Forest Park, I was an events manager then. The show was successful, so from then, we kept in touch. I used to call him for more gigs thereafter.

How did he come to hire you as his manager?
It was on Wednesday May 14, 2014, at me 2.16pm.  (I remember everything very well) when he called me. He said, “You man where are you?” “Who is this?” I asked. Then he replied; “Nze boss wo omupya (I am your new boss). It is Jose Chameleone.” I had Shs7,000 on me. I was confused and restless. I could not believe it, so I cried. It took me an hour to get to Munyonyo, where he was by then. I reached there and he told me he had been watching me (more like scouting). He told me he liked how I organised my shows and how successful they always were. We then signed a management contract for five years.

Which shows are those?
I organised the Masaka Street Jam. Then I also did his Valu Valu Xtra concert in Masaka. Actually, the very first time I held a concert, I contacted Chameleone. I had to use my laptop as a security to get Shs1m to make a booking. Thank God the show was a success.

What are your duties as Jose Chameleone’s manager?
I do what every artiste manager does. I book and schedule for him shows. There are people who book and make down payments a month or two to the event. So I have to keep reminding him about those shows. I schedule studio time and video shoots. We both decide which artiste to record a collaboration with and which video director to use to shoot a specific video. In most cases, he is the one who gets international bookings. I do the transactions on his behalf. I balance the money and bank it.

So does your artiste have a standard price?
Yeah he does. In Kampala, we charge Shs7m and upcountry it differs. We charge between Shs8m and Shs10m depending on the distance from Kampala.

According to you, who is Chameleone besides the musician we see on stage?
He is human like any of other person. He is very down to earth and kind. Chameleone is one person who gives advice. He likes to correct whenever he sees you in the wrong. To me, he’s like a brother, a father and a friend.

How does it feel like managing one of the biggest artistes in East Africa?
It is not very easy but by the will of God, I am able to do my job. You get to travel a lot, meet a lot of people and get to know so many cultures.  It comes with challenges too. Like some people pretend they know the artiste a lot so they prefer dealing with him directly but at the end of the day, he still refers them to me.

What has been your biggest highlight working with Chameleone?
Having to organise the One Man, One Million show. It was the first of its kind in this country, it was the first biggest show of my career, and above all, it was a success.

There are issues of your artiste receiving money for booking but never show up for concerts. Why does this happen a lot with Chameleone?
I can confidently tell you that it stopped immediately I took over Jose Chameleone’s management.

So what was the former management not doing right?
I don’t know. All I know is that it is all about informing your artiste in time and constantly reminding him about upcoming shows, and scheduling shows that don’t clash. It all goes back to organisation in terms of management.

Any best moments with your boss for the past one year that you have spent working with him?
They are actually two. My very best moment was when he finally made me board a plane. I had longed to step in a plane my whole life and when he (Chameleone) gave me the opportunity, I was very excited. We were going for a show in Mombasa. Then my second best moment is when he bought me a car last month, a VW Golf. I couldn’t believe it. I was very excited.

And the worst moment?
My worst moment is missing the UK Easter trip in April. I don’t like to talk about it.

What happened?
They just left me behind. Not that I missed the flight.

What else do you do besides managing Jose Chameleone?
I own an events company called Mutima Entertainment and also I own commuter taxis that make some money for me.

What do you think other managers should do right to lift up their artistes.
You see, there is a difference between Serena Hotel and Sheraton Hotel. Everyone has a way of doing things. Each one is special in their own way. So we all have different ways of managing.

What does it take really to be an artiste manager?
You must know how the music industry operates. From good producers, video directors, to top journalists who will push your artiste to the top. You must also be friends with other artistes and promoters too so that getting gigs is much easier for you.

How is your relationship with Chameleone’s family like?
Very strong. Actually Daniella is a very good friend of mine. The children Alba Shine Mayanja, Alpha and Abba are all my very good friends. Sometimes work is put aside to celebrate life as a family. I enjoy working with my artiste.

This probably confuses many readers; between an artiste and a manager, who fires the other?
The artiste is the one who fires the manager because the artiste is the boss. The problem in Uganda is that managers disrespect artistes. They think musicians are nothing without them. I on the other hand have a lot of respect for my artiste.

About Robert Nkuke alias ‘Mutima’
Robert Nkuke was born 30 years ago and has lived to grow and watch his Mutima Entertainment empire blossom; from organising small events in Ndeeba to staging massive shows like the Masaka Street Jam.  Mutima went to St Mary’s SS for both his O & A level and later did a short course in Business Management at Datamine Technology and Business Institute, Wandegeya before venturing into events management.
He came up with the Masaka Street Jam annual musical fete that features both top Masaka aristes and Kampala artistes. Three years down the road, Masaka Street Jam has always been a success. Revellers in Masaka Town look forward to this concert every mid-year to have a blend of both their own home bred talent and the Kampala artistes.

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