ZAMBIAN MUSIC, WHY HASN’T IT CROSSED BORDERS , WHY HASN’T IT PAID OUR ARTISTS WELL, WHY HASN’T IT CHANGED THEIR LIVES? WHERE HAVE THINGS GONE WRONG?
By Jonathan Ngoma
One Dance by WIZKID , a collaboration with Drake has made him the first African Artist to Win the Billboard Music Awards.
This got me thinking with pain.. Why has our industry not gone that far. In some areas I’ve answers but the other picture still begs answers probably from the industry itself.
African music has reached its sweet point and its getting even better. How ever it’s concentrated in a few countries and regions. Ghana, Nigeria, Congo, South Africa, Tanzania now Uganda are flag carriers of the continent.
WHY NOT US?
Here I’ve 10 points to consider if we are to move a step further. This is simply my thought yours are welcome too.
The countries doing well that I’ve mentioned have a population which supports Industry growth. Its not hard to put together 5,000 people to watch you perform out of 100 Million Citizens.
This means if you have good music you are able to get a good pay from shows and album Sales,even a successful song can change your life in countries like Nigeria. This can’t happen here not even Woodlands stadium has been filled by a local artist b4.
2. MUSIC CONTENT
Good Music doesn’t end with a good beat. As much as it’s a big factor it doesn’t end here. I’ve seen acoustics hit international waves before. We need to write good music apealing music.
One of the people who attended the Mosi Day of Thunder was not impresed with the fact DIAMOND performed most of his songs in SWAHILI. To them it was a turn off.. How is Zambian Music Different? Don’t we mainly sing in Nyanja and Bemba for the 14Million Zambias half of which are in rural areas with no acccess to radio.
3. PAY CHEQUE
We havea dead association called Zambia Association of Musicians. What it does upto now i don’t know although I’ve seen them do speeches on funerals that I’ve attended.
ZAM has alot of work to do if it’s to be relevant, ZAM is as good as is LAZ but it need to regulate this industry so that my brothers can earn from their hardwork.
Put a standard on what businesses need to pay for a show. Negotiate good music recording deals for your people , help them package their music to acceptable standards. Get a cut from these deals to run the association. If I was an artist I don’t think I was going to be paying subscription fees because there is no return what so ever. PULL UP YOUR SOCKS.
4. ARTIST IMAGE
Image is KEY! As an artist you need to invest outside a music show to build your image, look good, look expensive.
If a business entity or organisation wants to call you for a performance they should be like ” UJA AZADULA he won’t accept that fee. You need to sell yourself in that way. MTN NIGERIA has more than 7 brand Ambasadors with millions of nairas pay cheques, Pepsi , SAMSUNG we have these companies here. But your image hasn’t sold itself to the corporate world so the outside world can’t see you. If it has then the Corporate world need to do their home work.
A small section of Zambian artists has had an opportunity to collaborate with established artists that if you see a promo of a song you will be like ok we are now getting there. This collabo will push us there.. coz remember you are doing it for us. Then the song comes out it’s below average. Opportunity lost.
Similarly I know of artists who have just not had an opportunity to push their music. Their skills just need that one opportunity to breakthrough which others have failed to maximise. I PRAY I DAY LIGHT SHINES ON THEM.
6. IT’S A BUSINESS
MUSIC is a business. This is is what everyone must know. Just like owning a barbershop , a carwash , Pub, a Saloon. Music is! You need to manage your little earned resources to improve your “business”
Account for your expenditures, diversify. Remember its a framed career you will not be our favourite forever. I want Davido to pay you for a feature. You where in this game before him.
As industry try and be United. Don’t only come together because a friend has died. Create an proper avenue where jealous and envy are spared. Drop off pride. Come together as musicians discuss music share ideas on how you can improve it amidst a difunct Association.
8. MISTAKING JUNK FOR GOOD MUSIC
This is the music we listen to in one month then the following months it’s skipped if you are playing a collection Cd made from City Market. As listeners we need to stop making such mistakes we are killing the good music. JUNK Is JUNK dont give it your ear. It has the power to corrupt you, lest you forget how good music sounds like.
9. AVOID TALKING ABOUT PIRACY
Please avoid talking about piracy every time you have an opportunity to discuss the industry challenges. Who in the successful music circle have you ever heard complain about it. Your money is in Music shows, Endorsement deals, Managmennt Deals.
CD sells wont change anything. Free Music downloads are part of promoting your Music. It’s showing you love when we buy. Don’t take it as a life changing income. Push for good deals out there , but remember Image first.
In your Music try by all means to sound like YOU!
Don’t be Tiwa Savage Part 2, or JAY Z Part 6.
At the start I prayed that Lord help me write without mentioning any ones name.