Music mentorship programme Passion to Profession

From Afternoons, 1:35 pm on 17 December 2020

Many young people in South Auckland are passionate about music but don't know much about the business side of it, says musician and entrepreneur Toko Manuel.

Five years ago he established the mentorship programme Passion to Profession to show creative young people in his community some options.

Toko Manuel, Repfm managing director and co-founder.

Toko Manuel, Repfm managing director and co-founder. Photo: Supplied

Performing isn't the only way to play a role in the music business, says Toko, who's been in the industry 15 years.

"There's events, there's merchandise - so many avenues people aren't aware of that are so close to their dream job or their passion."

Toko says reading the self-help book Rich Dad, Poor Dad was a life-changer that taught him the value of money 'generators'.

His personal ones are mentoring in schools, Passion to Profession (which is funded by local government) and setting up kids with work experience.

He's also had first-hand insight into the business over ten years working with multi-award winning Kiwi rapper Savage (aka Demetrius C Savelio) 

"I'm right next to him and I see the process. It's not hard for me to pass it on to them and say 'this is what it takes. This guy is living proof of what can happen for you guys. The man is so intelligent in what he does and how he's done it. He's a real inspiration to the students who come through.

"I've finally realised, it's not about the tools, it's about your ear. Your ear tells you what's good and your ear tells you what's bad … I know some kids with broken laptops that are making chart-topping music. They're so creative, we've just gotta nurture that.

"Let's just figure out if [a career in music] is what you want first. And if that's what you love let's figure out how that can be your job from here on out. Passion to profession. Turn it into a business."

Toko Manuel is also the managing director and co-founder of the radio station RepFM