Morocco World News sat down for an interview with Moroccan music manager Mani about everything from being an immigrant in France to giving back to Morocco.
By Najoua Bijjir
Paris – He is a luminary in the world of well-known artists. Among his clients are none other than Rihanna, Akon, Pharrell Williams, Snoop Dogg, Sean Paul, Nas, Tyga, and 50 Cent. Music manager Mani, 44, has been involved in the worldwide music industry for two decades through his successful business the American Artist Company.
You’re the president of the American Artist Company. What kind of services do you provide?
We are a booking management company and we provide touring services for well-known artists, such as Drake, Bruno Mars, and even the Gypsy Kings. But we’re a lot more than that. We’re also involved in publishing, the movie industry, and product branding. I just came back from India where we had a private event with Tinie Tempah and we’re going to collaborate with Philipp Plein to shoot a commercial for 50 Cent’s sneaker brand.
You founded your company twenty years ago. Why was the mainstream audience not familiar with your achievements?
I founded my company in 1999 in New York. The reason the mainstream audience didn’t know me is that I chose not to be in the spotlight. My number one focus has always been to work hard and it was never about being famous.
‘I always tell my parents: You gave us everything.’
You’re from France and originally of Moroccan descent. What was your childhood like?
I was born in Fez and at a very young age, I migrated with my parents to Dijon, France. I grew up in an area similar to a ghetto. My parents didn’t speak French and we had very little money. Yet I had a very happy childhood because we had each other.
We came with nothing to France and I always tell my parents: You gave us everything. They gave us love, and that’s the only thing that matters.
‘I was always committed to my career’
How did you start your career as a music manager?
When I was 12 years old I went to conservatory, where I won the top prize for dancing. The Ministry of Culture provided me with a grant to study at the Broadway Dance Centre in New York. I was very committed to hard work, taking classes during the day and practicing each evening. Later I became a choreographer and a modern jazz dancer. I was always committed to my career and I had to work hard to stay in shape. I danced in Broadway productions such as Charlie Chaplin and I performed during concerts with Stevie Wonder and Janet Jackson.
When did you decide to make a career-switch?
When I was 24 years old I realized that I couldn’t dance at a high level for life. I started to build up my connections with well-known artists through my work as a choreographer and a dancer. I realized that I had two dreams and they were: One, being my own boss and two, waking up whenever I wanted to. There’s nothing better than having your freedom. In some ways freedom is very expensive. I believe you have to work hard to make it happen.
What do you consider the most important things in life?
My family and my friends are very important to me. I love to travel, be free and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I thank my parents for that.
I grew up in a ghetto and I stayed away from trouble, only because I had a strong relation with my parents. I couldn’t image doing something wrong and causing them harm. My parents gave us, all five of their children, the confidence to be who we are.
Education is also a very important thing in life. I believe that a loved and educated child is unlikely to do any harm.
Once we came with nothing, and now we have everything. I’ve learned that people always want more, they always want something else. When I was younger, all sorts of stuff amazed me. Now I have it all, but I am not impressed by it. Money can give you freedom, but at the same time it is nothing. Money is just a key.
Having my own family with kids really changed my life. I used to close my phone during major concerts. I was never reachable and was very busy. After I married things changed. I’m still busy, but now I want to stay in touch with my family all the time. Whenever I see my child, I forget about everything else.
How would you describe your ties with Morocco?
It’s always great to be back in Morocco. Fez, Marrakesh… you name it. I am involved in different festivals in Morocco. Next year we will be organizing two big festivals. You can stay updated by following me on Instagram.
Aside from your career you’re involved in philanthropy. What particular projects are you working on these days?
We’re starting up a concept called BVibes Management that helps potential talent to become successful outside of Morocco. I like to inspire others and do more for Moroccans.
I’ve traveled the world and I’ve seen Moroccans everywhere. They’re always creative, inspired and involved in entrepreneurship. They’re visible in all sorts of fields. We Moroccans have everything we need to make it happen, and that’s a great quality. I believe that when you receive, you have to give.
Do you have tips or advice for our readers?
To go far, you have to know where you came from. You have deep roots and you need to be proud of them. Be proud to be a Moroccan, an Arab and a Muslim. To achieve your goals you have to be committed and work hard.
Success is like a recipe; you have to use the right amount of ingredients for it to come out.