Efe’s Notes: Meet the 25-year-old who owns a record label

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There are those who love music and there are those who live music. Bernard Siaw Oware is of the latter category.

It is his deep love that pushed him to invest his GHS10, 000 savings from a tally clerk job in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) into starting a record label. At the time, Bernard was still pursuing tertiary education in Dubai after his brother had invited him over.

His travel was made possible because his brother worked with an organization that allowed workers to invite one family member over to work and be sponsored through school.

While reading Computer Science at the American University of Ras Al Kaimah, the 25-year-old was also teaching himself how to produce music.

"I got into music production just because I like music,’ he reveals. ‘And I always wanted to help those who don’t have support to push their inborn talent." Thus, Bernard seized every opportunity to spend time in various studios where he would "create beats for people who got talent [and] polish their music.”

Upon returning to Ghana in 2016, he went to the oil city, Takoradi, in search of talents. There, he says, is "where the greatest talents come from." And he knows because he had done his research and was sure that "the best talents [as far as music is concerned] came from the West".

In Takoradi, he met Edward Ansah (aka Bubulubu) and Jeremy Justin Amofah (aka Real Sean) and later, Desmond Appiah (aka Kobby Seeker) from Kumasi. He signed the three on Flames Nation Records, which Bernard established in April last year.

However, starting a record label is such an overwhelming task, especially when your aim is to help new, struggling talents in an economic environment as harsh as Ghana’s.

Yet, Flames Nation Records hasn’t tired-out supporting the dreams of these unsung heroes. From two rented studios in Accra and Takoradi, they have produced a number of singles and other tracks like ‘K3 Vim’ by Kobby Seeker, featuring YaaPono and Qwesi Flex and ‘Borne One’ by Bubulubu,’Money’ by Real Sean featuring Opanka, ‘Bumpa’ by Bulubulu featuring Black Metal.

Despite the successes, however, Bernard’s business, like any other startup, faces a number of challenges including; lack of financial investment and difficulty in getting airplay, especially by top radio stations. Currently, his hometown radio, Obuoba FM (Obo Kwahu), as well as Life FM and Accra FM are the few stations helping to promote his music.

For now, he is relying on his parents for financial support as he manages the family’s wholesale second-hand clothing store in Accra. He also relies on earnings gained from call-ups his artistes get to various shows.

As a notorious optimist, Bernard, nonetheless, believes fame is not far from his reach.

Together with partners Ekow Smith and Isaac Tandoh, promotional and production managers respectively, the team is working on forging more collaborations and relationships to get their music playing across all broadcast platforms. They are also putting things in place to establish a studio, which the young CEO says will be ready for operations by December, this year.

“By two-years, I will be out there, from the many,” Bernard assures. "Our songs are good because my management and I go through them thoroughly to ensure they are sound and good to hear before bringing them out.”

This strategy, which Bernard Believes is consistent with societal values, is an advantage that separates Flames Nation Records from the rest.