Maurice Okoth is an entertainment industry executive with over twenty years worth of experience at the helm of various entertainment firms.
From working with artists at MCSK to starting his own television show and entertainment channel to now driving changes at KAMP (Kenya Association of Music Producers), the Lawyer has had an illustrious career in matters entertainment and artists’ interests.
WoK caught up with him to find out what he has been up to, his passion for the youth and plans for the future.
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Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Maurice Okoth. I am a Lawyer by profession but I’m drawn to the entertainment industry more because that’s where my passion is. Since I was young I have always set my mind on doing different things and went ahead and did them. That’s why I always stand with Mark 9.23, because I believe I can do anything I set my mind on.
Most people know you as former MCSK boss. What have you been up to since leaving MCSK?
After serving as CEO of MCSK in 2016, I went back to legal practice for about two months but then I was not too happy working there. That is when I got an offer from the MD of TV Cosmopolitan (TVC), someone I had met while working at MCSK.
It is while working at TVC that I came up with the idea of Talanta Mtaani. I remember meeting a group of talented youth who wanted to have a show on TV. However, the proposal they gave me was not properly structured, and that’s when we came up with the idea of a talent competition show called Talanta Mtaani.
Talanta Mtaani is an empowerment program for talented youth. We focus on building capacity and growing talents into moneymaking brands.
So working together with the Swedish Embassy through the Civil Society Urban Development Platform (CSUDP), we came up with a curriculum to build creatives and artists into becoming brands in their own right.
I was also recently appointed as the CEO of KAMP (Kenya Association of Music Producers). In this role I hope to implement the already laid out plan to make lasting impressions and create a better association for the members.
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Which plans have you laid out to help you streamline KAMP for the best interest of its members?
For me, I fully understand the interests of the artists and the systems that work best for them. One of the problems artists used to face include lack of policies and a proper structure. In this position I would like to be held accountable for the policies we have laid out.
In a past interview I was asked what I would do in my first a hundred days and I said I would lay out all my elements for implementation of my five-year work plan in my first sixty days. One thing we want to do immediately is a broadcast licensing strategy. We have sent letters to broadcasters and they are willing to pay for our licenses. Second is general licensing strategy to effectively licenses for other spaces like restaurants.
We have also come up with a formula to pay out the money we collect from licensing and other sources. We are still in talks with the board and a member participation process to come up with a system that is beneficial to everyone.
One of the things we have agreed on is a hybrid distribution during our AGMs and SGMs. All this is already down and is well laid out in our newsletter.
Another thing we have talked about is alternative ways of licensing of matatus. We are going to work with people who do music videos and DJ mixes and collect license fees from them as an alternative source of income. All this is communicated to our members through regularly updated newsletters.
You speak very passionately about the youth. What drives this passion?
I would describe myself as a very passionate individual. I am a giver and I enjoy helping people. I feel that there’s a lot that can be done to empower the youth in the creative industry. I aim to leave a legacy through my work, and that is what fuels my passion.
What is your advice to the youth?
I’d advice creatives to diversify their craft to ensure continuity. Thinking outside the box and putting out good quality content will definitely keep them relevant.
A lot of the things I’ve done I’ve had to convince myself that I could do it. If they believe in themselves, have passion and doing whatever it takes to succeed, then they will succeed. It does not pay off immediately, but eventually they will start harvesting the fruit of their labor.
What do you enjoy doing outside your career?
I enjoy playing basketball. I am a fan of the Golden State Warriors team that recently won the NBA title. I also love playing Chess because it helps me with strategic thinking and thinking outside the box.
What would you like to be remembered for?
What I would want to be remembered for is something called Pride ya Kenya. This is an initiative to celebrate Kenya and what we have in our country. Whether it is the stories of our heroes or sportsmen, I would like to instill a sense of Kenyan pride for all of us, starting with our children.
When the wise men said mtoto umleavyo ndivyo akuavyo, they hit the nail on the head. What this means is children follow what they are exposed to. They are rarely exposed to local stories or cartoons that they can relate to. Almost everything they watch is made outside Kenya. They do not know about local heroes or success stories of local entrepreneurs. All this contributes to their lack of pride in this system.
My goal with Pride ya Kenya is to celebrate Kenyans’ achievements and teach the young ones to be proud of their country. If through this I get to change the children’s perspective about their life, then I will have achieved what I wanted to in my career. That is what I would like to be remembered for.