THE ZAMBIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY: INTERNATIONAL PLATFORM (PART TWO)

zambianmusic international platform

When Zambia got completely left out at this year’s Channel O Africa Music Video Awards, I knew a similar episode was repeated only this time it left me wondering what we lacked for us not to get an invite to the party. Was it talent? No far be it, we are really a talented bunch. Maybe competitive music videos? Then I saw Amarulah, and Auto Pilot. So what went wrong? Why don’t we slay were the big boys play? Why don’t we dance on the international platform?

Much as the musician is the one who ends up being the star, the real star is the fans. You see, without the fans, there is no Superstar and so if we don’t request for Ninalakwa on Trace or Channel O (for a start) there is no way it will air on our best international platform or be consistent on it. True support from Zambian fans is essential to help musicians make history. I mean we have done it before. We supported Ruff Kaida when he was nominated for a BEFFTA. Ruff made history and no one will take that away from him and most of all from us Zambians because an international award earned represents the motherland.

Ruff won beating D.Banj and Zahara

Ruff won beating D.Banj and Zahara

In part one I mentioned how Zambian Music had evolved. The fans, I believe, need to do the same. Envision the power of TEAM BREZZY, RIHANNA NAVY, BELIEBERS and the BEYHIVE to name a few and ask yourself if we are giving our local musicians enough support. Some are on the navy and these other mentioned teams, but ignore that we have local artists whose team  can do with our support.  Yes we have supported Zone Fam, Ruff and other artists get Awards and nominations, but that shouldn’t be the death of it. Consistency is imperative. We also need to change our mind-set from a negative and pessimistic to a more positive and optimistic one. We are capable of competing at international level. We just have to believe. The Zambian music industry isn’t like our national football team, it gets better and will save you disappointments and heart attacks and that is more reason to support it.

The government should invest in the industry for a change and implement laws to protect artists to enable them to earn revenue. Additionally, support isn’t just voting, it is also includes helping curb piracy and buying an album just to appreciate these people’s efforts. With that said, Maria Nyemba is releasing an EP (April, 10th) so get (BUY) a copy of your own. If these guys can make real money from their music and not just gigs, realistic competition will develop which in turns breeds efficiency and excellence. You know money is such an impetus. So with time, Africa and the rest of the world won’t get enough of Zed music.

A dearth of efficient marketing and management deprives artists of exposure. If you carried out a survey of how many artists actually have managers in the industry, you will note that only less than a quarter of a quarter do. There is a need for companies with professional managing and promotional skills and reliable contacts. How does one do a song and market it on their own? That is arduous. Every player needs to stick to their own role. A leaf should be taken from Zone Fam. Under, Duncan Sodala’s management they have taken a continental route and we are all proud of them.

The promotion I speak of is not sending irritating BCs of links to your song, as DJ Roxy puts it, the download my new song syndrome. It is about setting your music on a platform that will send fans grabbing it. If a video keeps showing on TRACE, psychologically I think (not proven :)) you will eventually like it. A true manager works in your best interest. They help you create a positive image to the public, they carry out research for you, they protect you, and they bring the money to you. How will you make it internationally without a manager? Find someone who can help you, your uncle, your friend, you partner; someone you trust and believe is capable of getting the job done. These are the little, but Macro issues that keep us off the international table. You can’t be your own manager, you are not Chuck Norris.

Roberto Mr- Ama-rulah

Roberto Mr- Ama-rulah

Long after its release last year, Amarulah only got to top charts on YFM in South Africa this month. While I appreciate that this is a breakthrough for the industry (and Roberto, I am proud of you my brother), I think it happened a little late. You see when Cassper Nyovest or Ice Prince drops a single, most Zambian music lovers will have it in a week of its release. That difference is what should be eliminated and without efficient promotion, we shall always take a tortoise step. Amarulah is a Giant; it had and still has the potential to sweep through the continent without even coercing people to get it by flooding them with download links. I think what lacked was efficient promotion to push it further in time. I want to see this video nominated for any relevant award at the next CHOAVMAs at least. I believe Roberto is one of the few Zambians artists capable of giving Zambia a winning image, internationally in 5 years’ time. If you recall, good woman was a jam that created ‘Doubting Thomases’ simply because it was hard for them to believe a Zambian performed it. With J.K, I don’t need to emphasise more, I hope he won’t just stop at Yemi Alade. Talking about more songs that didn’t get enough international recognition, I think Afro Swag by Kachanana ft Joey B was huge.

Also to attain international level, more collaboration is needed. I one day want to see Sarkodie ft Urban Hype, Chef 187 ft Tiwa savage, Slap D ft Aka and M.I. , Mampi ft Wiz Kid. Do you guys share the same utopia as mine? You may laugh at this, but that’s because you are just being negative, Macky 2 ft Rihanna can be a killer song. Our West African and South African brothers have done it, and so can we. If they don’t want to do collabos with us, which I don’t believe, we should make them come to us. No one can stop talent.

I have always thought that investing in music by opening up music schools will be a huge plus for the industry. There is a need to have professional artists who know that there is more to music than standing in the booth. This will deliver us to the international platform as well.

Lastly, unity is key. If Zambian artists can come together and combine ideas, I don’t see why we can’t break barriers. Working with different people is efficient; creativity is at its best then. I have a feeling there are two artists out there who have never collaborated, but when they will fire will be created. When you know it’s about the money and the fame, you better drop your ego. Criticising your fellow artists when you are not doing enough yourself will amount to nothing. The BanDunka movement was unnecessary.

I am inspired by how united Nigerian artists are united and extend the unity to South Africa and Ghana. How Davido acted at the 2014 BET awards was truly mature, he preached unity through action. I wonder how many Zambian artists would do that before they use it to claim they are the best. So guys I implore you to be humble, love each other and you will see how far you will go. I don’t want to watch African music awards without Zambian representation again, it makes me feel we are out dated and irrelevant when i  and you know how blessed we are.

So in 5 years, I believe we can terrorise international Channels, radio stations, charts and blogs, but like Swish said we will still be here if our attitude never changes.

 

 

CREDITS

I would like to thank the following for playing a role in one way or the other as I blogged about music

  1. Duncan Sodala (Zone Fam Manager)
  2. Chanda Kangwa (DJ Roxy. Radio phoenix)
  3. Swish (Hip Hop Artist)
  4. Seya FundaFunda (artist)
  5. Vue Smalls (Producer)
  6. Jasmine (upcoming Entreprenuer ,CEO Zee Music)
  7. Everyone reading this, you are the best
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THE ZAMBIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY: THE EVOLUTION

ZAMBIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY

The Zambian economy may have struggled over the past decade, but the Zambian Music Industry has enjoyed a smooth evolution to a much more contemporary level. With so much western influence taking course, the audience for this developed/ evolved music has come to surpass that of the more cultural and Zambian like music- Kalindula. Kalindula music has never really sounded different to our ears. It continues to bare the same old characteristics, but remains a successful genre.

Thanks to computer software, making beats has never been easier. Supported by advanced sound recording systems and the emergence of never seen before talent, nothing less than good music is expected. However, good music also depends on several other factors. Back in the day, competition between producers was not really defined. Today, Teyabana iyo (No kids allowed). In the past, a beat was either made at Roma side (TK), by Jerry fingers, Ben Blazer or sling beats.

But, today. Wow! Just Look at the work the new players have done. The likes of Dice, Shom-C ,Tonny Breezy, Cream Dollar, Tsean, MZenga Man, Vue Smallz, Skillz, Dj Buggar, Magg 44, Baska Baska and a lot more others. Who could have envisioned this back then? These players have redefined Zambian music. Their ever creative minds have produced ‘sick’ beats that leave you dancing, sentimental, in euphoria and decades later, will breed nostalgia in you.

Around 2008, Zambian music witnessed the birth of a Producer who has greatly contributed to the becoming platinum of musicians who have in turn influenced the game greatly. Baska Baska came on the scene as a master of unique beat creation. The way he played around with snares was very interesting. Dandy Crazy’s first Hit- Mami can be accredited to him.

But redefining music is never complete without the owners of the voices- the singers. First of all, salute to the legends, Mc Wabwino, Crisis Mr Swagger, J.k, Ozzy, Danny, K.Millian, Nasty D, Ba Crazy, Joe Chibangu, General Kanene, Slap D, Hamooba,TY2, Mozegetor, Macky 2,Roberto, Ruff Kid now known as Ruff Kaida, Alubusu mhsrip, Mampi, Shatel, Black Muntu, The third, Mainza, Pompi, Petersen , Danny Peddle among many others.

Today we accredit the evolution of the game to the present players. The industry is simply flooded, but standing out more than others initiates recognition. Also the consistency of some legends is simply stupendous, Jk’s for example. We celebrate the best that ever did it in the modern day: Macky 2, the genius minds Chef 187 and Stevo, the sweet voiced, Judy yo, Afunika, T.sean, Brisky, B.Flow,Salma, kantu, Pilato, B1, the unmatchable P.jay mhsrip, Dalitso, Kay Figo, Magg 44, Muzo, OC, Willz, Swish,Slap D, Jae Cash, Zone Fam, Bobby East, Abel Chungu and myriads more.

Technology has been a useful tool. Not only does it allow for easier production of music, it also enables easier distribution of music, given the escalation in the number of Zambians with access to the World Wide Web. Indimba.com is with no doubt the biggest Zambian online music distributor apparently. Packed with latest jams from well known artists, indimba.com allows you to pick out whatever hit (mostly done after 2012) you wish to have and what’s more? For free. However indimba does not give enough attention to underground or upcoming musicians just like most radio stations. Believe me there is so much talent out there that deserves recognition and if they are not supported, the growth of the industry remains stunted bearing in mind that variety is the spice of life. Why should an artist have to pay a local radio DJ to have their song played on radio? That is preposterous. Talented underground artists deserve every support they can get to make it. However, Zambianmusicblog.com does endeavor to feature a lot of upcoming artists and itsretunes.com is a great hub for contemporary gospel music lovers. All three websites are however doing quite the job though. We never had such 10 years ago. Music is easily ‘replicated’ in the process and everyone gets a copy, but beware of the rising piracy problem. Also the first ever Zambian music app called Zee music is available for download on ITunes and Google play. This one really supports so many underground artists.

JK and Salma

JK and Salma

Coming to music videos, we may want to focus on a particular trend setter: Jordan Katembula. By observing his videos from Ka gelo to Telemundo loving, you can nearly describe the transition of Zed music videos. I have never seen Zambians fuss so much about a Zambian music video more than when J.K delivered KapiriPiri. Yes, the beautiful Salma Dodia was on everyone’s lips (mostly because she was mixed), but how elegant and impeccable the video appeared is what made history. Zambia had for the first time seen a somewhat western video done by a Zambian. As J.K continued to produce more high definition pictures and winning awards for them, he started getting other artists out of their comfort zone to spend more on videos and today we have seen the plummet of videos shot using simple digital camera. Musicians are excelling at videos. Zone Fam have been good, Chef 187 just to mention a few.

If you look at the GBM video by Pilato, you may easily despise it because the setting is not really attractive. I think whoever directed that video is mad genius. Does creativity get any better than that? The gist is, artists are getting attached to the idea that a perfect music video is one that shows beautiful scenery. I mean why pretend. The industry doesn’t even pay that well and the owner of the car and money you flaunted will get his items back after the last scene is shot. The Amarulah video is really amazing, most spectacular; I mean why can’t we see it on Trace or Chanel O? Roberto is just as good as Diamond from Tanzania, but he isn’t being recognized as he should be. Anyway that is another story I will look at in part two, which will feature the international platform and Zambian music. So look out for it.

Lastly, the industry has become so vicious and entirely competitive. I mean do you remember how long it took for us to get over a hit more than a decade ago? Nasty D’s song lasted more than 18 weeks on the Local Rhythms Count Down, today that is impossible. There is always a new hit waiting to displace the current one. With creative artists like Macky 2 we are no short of hits. I picked the Local Rhythms Countdown on Radio phoenix, because it has been the most consistent chart that has represented the people’s choice. Seeing Five-four and Salma’s song on the chart showed that Zambians had started appreciating Zambian Hip-hop performed in English. Later, two of Camstar’s songs joined the chart. This was an evolution indeed. DJ scratch I believe from phoenix deserves some appreciation for having promoted this kind of hip-hop on his show every Saturday evening at 9.
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out part two coming soon.