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The stages of a Spoken Word Poetry business.


This article was extracted from a lecture that was delivered online via a Whatsapp group on Saturday September 5, 2015. It has been slightly edited and modified for your reading pleasure.

Alex: Make welcome the renowned King Olulu

Adire: Welcome sir, can’t wait to learn new things from you

AdehJones: welcome sir

Olulu: Hi guys, hope ur weekend has been great thus far, and I hope I learn from you too

Alex: Mr Olulu is a man who has done so much for spoken word poetry in Nigeria, and you just need to google WordUp to know he is a poetic icon. We are glad to have you here sir.

Olulu: Thank you for having me. let’s talk about the Business of Spoken Word Poetry – specifically “the stages of a spoken word poetry business/ how to build a spoken word poetry business.”

Oghenetega: Welcome

Olulu: Spoken Word Poetry has 2 major “occupational” roles, they are – Performance and Management

Osasere: yeah am in

Olulu: Most people are focused on the performance aspect


Olulu: Some try to mix the two together


Oghenetega: Hmm

Olulu: Few like me, are more interested in the management aspect of it, that’s why I call myself a Poet-prenuer

Oghenetega: What’s the management about?

Olulu: Cos there is a big business aspect to spoken word poetry

Oghenetega: Sounds strange. Haven’t heard it before

Olulu: Strange? Poet-prenuer?

Oghenetega: Yeah

Olulu: I coined it from Entrepreneur.

Oghenetega: Oh, that’s it

Olulu: So how do u build a spoken word poetry business? There are various stages involved. But we will talk about 4 for today.
The stages are: Market Research, Product Development, Market Fit and Market Niche. Mind you, these stages also apply to both the performance and management aspect of spoken word poetry. As a performer – you are the product/ brand.


Olulu: As a manager – the event you organise /the poet you manage is the product/brand

Oghenetega: Sir?

Olulu: Any questions thus far? Shoot

Oghenetega: Yes o

Olulu: Let’s have it

Oghenetega: Could you explain those terms?

Olulu: Which term exactly?

Oghenetega: Market fit????etc

Olulu: I will come to it, one step at a time.

Oghenetega: Ok, yes sir.

Olulu: So the 1st stage of the business of spoken word poetry is, Market Research. There is a market for every product, but there is no product for every market. You cannot appeal to everyone.

Oghenetega: True

Olulu: Not everyone will be wiling to pay to watch u or pay to come to ur event, so know your customers. Who are d people that enjoy what u do?

Oghenetega: Hmmm

AdehJones: Demographic study…..

Olulu: Can your poetry sell in church and also in beer parlours? Can your poetry sell in schools and also on the street? So in doing your market research, you need to know thyself. Who are u?

Oghenetega: True

Olulu: Why do you do what you do? What do you plan to achieve from it? Where can you do it? How do you plan to do it and achieve what you want to achieve? The key questions start with “why.”

Osasere: hmm

Olulu: That’s is why you need a vision statement. At i2X Media Company Limited (an entertainment company being run by my friends and I), our own vision statement is “to develop a vibrant spoken word poetry industry in Nigeria and beyond.” So what does that suggest to you? It means, when you see us or hear from us or think about us, it must be about spoken word poetry. We must a resource center where people come to draw from.

Oghenetega: Hmm

Olulu: Of cos, we can’t satisfy everyone, but everyone that comes to us must go satisfied. Thus, we strive to support poets and poetry activities, as well as, ensure the creation of opportunities for the growth and development of poets and poetry activities in Nigeria and beyond. The long and short of this is that, when u know “WHY”, the “HOW” is easy to do. In fact, the “WHY” ensures you can come with as many “HOW” as possible.

Oghenetega: For the promotion of spoken word right?

Olulu: Generally, even outside poetry. Why and how….Why do I want to get married? Why do I need an education? Why do I want to a poet? Why do I need to be a christain? Why do I need to help people? So your market research must start with “WHY”

Alex: Sure everyone needs to answer the big question “WHY”?

Olulu: Exactly, even beyond Poetry. Any questions thus far?

Obehi: Hmm

Olulu: Of cos for your market research, you need to also know who likes poetry? Who enjoys my poetry? Who will pay for my poetry? Where are they? How do I get to them?

Alex: I actually first learned about the business side of spoken word poetry when Olulu brought Shihan (USA) to Nigeria.

Olulu: Next up, Product development. So can someone tell me what is a product? And what does a product do?

Ksmart: A product is something that is meant to add value, it could also be a “brand.”

Oghenetega: A product is the poet

Olulu: Hmm

Obehi: A product is a creation of the creator and it is meant to sell the values of the creator

Olulu: No wrong answers, all correct. But I like to call a product – a solution provider. Why? Cos a product is meant to satisfy a need. Food is a product, it satisfies hunger, Water is a product, it satisfies thirst

Oghenetega: Oh

Olulu: So if a poet is a product, what does d poet satisfy?

Obehi: Waow!

Ksmart: I would say “quest 4 knowledge and enlightenment”

Olulu: Hmm

Ksmart: Or Entertainment is some cases…

Obehi: But similar poets may be tacking the same needs in their poetry, won’t it then become a hustle on who can outsell the other, when its about ensuring the needs are met and not about the hustle to be a more outstanding poet?

Oghenetega: Good point Obehi

Obehi: Thanks tega

Ksmart: @Obehi – after becoming an outstanding poet,what next?

Olulu: @obehi, people’s needs are different and unlimited. If u scroll up, I said…

adehJones: No poet can outshine any poet!!!

PRESTIGE: No product can outshine any product.

Olulu: There is a market for every product (poet) but no product (poet) for every market. Without naming names, we know some poets who are more into politics and social issues and some who into love, some are into motivation etc.


Olulu: The key things are what I will call product specialisation and product differentiation. The key words – Specialisation and differentiation, and I will put it llike this – be a specialist in your area, and be different from every other person/ poet

Obehi: Ok. I understand now sir, thank u. I have to know my market and be unique at it to satisfy the needs in society

Olulu: Exactly. Let me further break it down by using music as an example – who would u invite to perform at a jazz festival? D Banj or Asa

Ksmart: Asa

Olulu: Who would u invite to an owambe party? Wizkid or Timi Dakolo

Ksmart: Wizkid

Olulu: Now all these names are musicians or poets?

Obehi: Musicians

Olulu: Exactly

Ksmart: Musicians

Olulu: Therefore, when you develop your product to satisfy the market, no one will be confused about what you do. The product must satisfy a need. For example – Word Up and War Of Words – which are our main poetry events are products. What do they satisfy? They provide a platform for poets, while Word Up is to showcase known and established poets, War Of Words is a poetry competition used to discover and develop new and exciting poets. They are same products – cos they are both poetry platforms, but different products cos they satisfy different markets. So let me rush it a little, my time is almost up. Market fit is the 3rd stage and it is simply, you finding the market you are meant to satisfy. People at this stage know your kind of poetry and appreciate it. When certain events come up, they seek you out. And this leads to the 4th stage, Market niche. Niche is a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service, also, it is a territory owned or controlled by an entity. When u have a market niche, at this stage you are either the “top dog” in your market or among the top 5, and at this stage, you can charge for ur performances / events. People are willing to pay to see u perform, cos they see u as an expert and an exceptional poet/ event. I would like to stop here for now, hope this made sense to you.

Ksmart: Sure!!!

Obehi: Yes!!!!! Thank u soo much!!

Olulu: If you have questions, shoot. Let’s have it.

Anita: Thanks

Ksmart: Very insightful. How do you discover what specialty or area fits you?

Olulu: Hmm, knowledge and information.Poetry as a talent is like a big expanse of land, specialty is what you decide to fertilize it with and plant on it. As a poet, what do you feed ur mind? What do you expose yourself to? What determines your speciality is what you have on inside of you based on what you have been exposed to.

Obehi: I am becoming ever more enlightened that spoken word must grow beyond the limits of my school and out into the world. But i have to know exactly where it should grow in the world and not get lost in it. Thank u

Ksmart: Hmmm

Olulu: @ksmart – simple experiment, read only politics for the next one week or one month and then try to write a poem you will see it will be a political poem.

adehJones: Comic poetry on my mind…..

Olulu: @obehi – Spoken word poetry is a means of communication, a tool to develop literacy, a form of entertainment and a job creation tool/means of livelihood. It is huge and can not be limited to your school. Find your niche and own it.

Ksmart: Please one other question,(maybe out of place tho)…I discovered most poets are usually too “serious”…does this always have to be d case?

Olulu: As per been serious, this does not always have to b the case, your personality comes into play here, exposure, knowledge and information also.

Ksmart: Hmmm

Olulu: For example, very few poets can perform at a noisy and crowded bar and get d people there to listen to them. If you perform a deep or serious poem in a bar you will lose them. But if you do a funny and simple poem, they will follow you.

Ksmart: Exactly!!

Olulu: So your audience play a part of what poems you do.

Oghenetega: Oh…

Ksmart: Thank you sir,well said

Oghenetega: Thank you Sir

Olulu: Thank you for having me

Oghenetega: thanks for sharing your time Sir

Olulu: Pleasure is all mine.

Obehi: Thank u sir!!! Its been more than illuminating.

Alex: Mr Olulu you have done what Napoleon could not do, and we are proud and glad to have you here. Thanks again to everyone who showed up for class, I am sure it was a time well spent.

adehJones: Sure, it was

Osasere: awesome insightful, I’m redefining now, thanks mr olulu and mr alex thanks for creating this.

The End


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