How Bad Rama plans to build a powerful music empire

Chief executive Ramadhan Mupende, alias Bad Rame (left), and musicians signed to his label, (2nd left-right) Queen Cha, Marina and Safi Madiba.

It is three years since 44-year-old Ramadhan Mupende, commonly known as Bad Rama, founded The Mane, a record label which has since signed singers like Safi Madiba, Marina Debol, Queen Cha and rapper Jay Polly.

The Kicukiro-born producer has established himself as one of the best music managers in the local industry and his quick rise has boosted his hopes of expanding his business beyond borders.

He spoke to Sunday Magazine’s Eddie Nsabimana about the successful journey of his music record label and how he plans to turn it into a powerful music empire.

Who is Bad Rama?

I am many things but all that is connected to music. I am an artiste but now am more involved in managing ‘The Music Label’.

How did you end up in music management?

I have always been passionate about music and entertainment. Although I was also into sports while growing up, especially football and karate, it was music which stuck with me. 

I quit doing music in 2005 because our music had little air play due to few radio stations, only one TV station and people then didn’t know how to share our songs via YouTube.

Artistes at that time had all their eyes on Contac FM and Flash FM to have their music played and I lost patience because I had little hope that my songs would be played.

Although I quit doing music, I didn’t say leave the industry in general because I kept doing managerial activities with artistes behind the scenes, just because I love music.

I had a dream that I would make a comeback someday, maybe not as an artist but as a music entrepreneur, and here I am.

But it did not come easy because I did a lot of jobs in construction, public works, tourism, transport looking for resources to invest in music which was my dream business.

Who did you sign first at The Mane Music Label? And why?

Marina was my first signing when I started my music label in 2016. I wanted to start with an upcoming artist.

Only a few people knew about her music when she signed for The Mane and I am so proud of how she quickly rose to stardom under my management and is increasingly getting booked by the diaspora.

It shows me that I am doing great work.

Is that easy to manage more than one artiste?

It is not easy at all even to manage one single artist, because at the end of the day they are humans. You might do your best to help him/her move from a level to another in their music and make the best out of them but sometimes the common understanding about how things are being done might be a challenge.

How much have you invested in music activities so far?

The last time I carried out an evaluation, I already spent USD 200 000 in my music activities and it is six months since I did the evaluation, which means the investments have increased.

Do you manage to make returns?

It is a journey. I am now investing and I hope to gain returns in the future because the local music is increasingly gaining potential.

I am building my music empire and you can’t expect returns immediately but I have high hopes of gaining huge returns in the future as long as I am alive given that the industry is showing signs of flourishing.

What don’t people know about Bad Rama?

That question is complicated. I can’t say anything about it because I don’t know what people know and what they don’t know about me.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in music management?

I would be a tour guide. It is a job I used to do for four years and I really enjoyed it. That is why I like to travel. It is my hobby!

What is the future of The Mane?

Actually, Wasafi record Label which is owned by Tanzanian musician Diamond inspired me to invest in music.

The way they built their music empire in a well-organized manner and how quick they came to the top in the Tanzanian music industry really inspired me to think of doing something for our industry.

I had that privilege to interact with its management to gain tips on how best I can turn my record label into a powerful music empire.

I want to see The Mane expanding its music activities beyond the borders. My dream and wish is to find ourselves organizing big music events not only in Rwanda but also abroad and making sure that the artistes signed under my record label can benefit from those activities in one way or another.