WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE ZAMBIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY?

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Hello everyone, long time no blogging, but izzz okay I am back for now. Thanks to all of you that have kicked me out of the comfort zone. It is because of you that I keep going. Recently I have been carried away by lots of things. Some of you already know that I got elected union president for my university so you can only imagine the kind of pressure I am going through. I think after this post, I still have two more posts before we wrap up this year.

So this week twitter has been blazing with enormous pettiness, but thankfully not entirely. There has been attempts to air solutions to the Zambian Music Industry stagnation. I think stagnation for lack of a better description. Also there was extreme bashing of the industry, So I decided to do a post yet again about the Zed music industry.

I guess everything stemmed from the FILL UP FNB STADIUM tour by Cassper Nyovest where 68000 people in South Africa showed up for a concert not to see Chris Brown. Cassper is getting a reputation for doing this sort of thing, as he previously filled the dome. He was congratulated by so many of his fellow musicians who do admit the 28 year old has really shifted the level to greater heights.

So the aftermath of this historical occurrence among some Zambians on twitter was how it is that none of our artists ever came close to such a milestone, how it is that we are lagging behind compared to other African countries. First of all, I wish to state that comparison is the thief of joy. We can’t suddenly wish our own artists or demand them to do something that took years to build. Because Cassper filled a stadium doesn’t necessarily mean Chefy or Jay Rox should accept a challenge.  Secondly, Cassper should not set the trend for our artists.

What I think we should do is accept that our industry is an infant for now and if we keep comparing it to The Nigerian or South African ones, we may only end up disrespecting the very artists that make us dance every Friday night at the Lounge. We can’t overlook the potential that has recently resurfaced in Zambia. Have you seen Dizmo? Lol! The future is bright. We should give it more time and the system will resolve itself. I truly doubt if anything will suddenly change, maybe two or more generations to come and we could be there. I am the most optimistic person so trust me, i am only being realistic.

You know I wish I could take my own advice, but it is kinda hard because  every  day  I am on YouTube, I see a new immaculate video from maybe Diamond, Run Town or Tekno and involuntarily I am craving and demanding  to see a similar video by a Zambian.  I guess it is what fuels our anger when we wish our own people could be that good and they kind of aren’t. I guess the frustration isn’t entirely aimed at pissing off our musicians, but to actually push them to do better. It is so upsetting to see many African musicians making global musical history and none of ours is on the  list. We can justify our comparison as some level of nationalism.

So what is really wrong with our industry?

  1. THE INDUSTRY LACKS A FINANCIAL MUSCLE. Trust me, if a tremendous amount of money was injected into it, a huge difference would be made. Musicians don’t have enough money to do incredible videos. They lack sponsors and most importantly themselves are not wiling to invest their own money into the craft. If they keep waiting for sponsors, they will wait forever.  Anyway, what they do isn’t considered very valuable and so how do we expect them to make a living or rather be competitive? Very few people are willing to pay for albums or pay for shows over K100.
  2. POOR PLANNING, MARKETING. How many management agencies do we have in Zambia? Do we have real music promoters with actual contacts to the outside world? Anyway, before we go to the outside world, how well do our artists market themselves locally? Some artists are only famous in Lusaka. There are some songs that you will only hear in Mufulira and nowhere else in Zambia. Most artists just release a song and hope it blows, not realizing investing in marketing would make such a difference. This is why so many good songs remain underground.  After the song is done, the best most do is throw it on on one of the music blogs hoping, accidentally, it will be downloaded by thousands and become a country hit. what are the odds? Artists also fail to brand themselves. How will your fans respect you when they dress better than you? How will they respect you when you drink from the same spot as them? Artists fail to create themselves into a symbol of public admiration.
  3. THE INDUSTRY ISN’T AN OPEN MARKET. In one way or the other, I feel our industry is regulated, not by the government, but by the players themselves. Radio DJs already know whose new song they will play for free. What about the population of poor underground artists? If our industry was truly a free market, so many artists would have made it to the top and replaced the Mugabes. For years now, the top artists continue to be the same. Is it because they are truly the best? How many new artists have come through in the US since 2010?  Look at how many new Nigerian artists we have seen of late. Is P.Square still running the game? There is clearly no room for rotation here because the system is regulated.
  4. INCONSISTENCY: Lots of new artists lack a level of consistency. They really need to learn something from Roberto, Slap D, Chef 187, Ruff Kaida, Macky 2 etc. Its like some artists were born to be one hit wonders and exit. Like they just wanted to taste a bit of fame and that was it. They fail to keep up with the trends, they fail to study their fans and some times lack discipline and are not humble enough to learn from legends. Of course nothing is way to easy, but if others can manage to be consistent, so can they.
  5. ORIGINALITY: How could it miss the list? Zambians sound like everyone else not Zambian these days. I do not know how and why we have failed to brand Zambian music and sell it to the world. There are a number of hit songs we have, and for respect of the singers, I won’t name them ,whose concept was stolen from foreign songs. A lot of songs done after 2010 are devoid of that great Zambian substantial touch.
  6. CREATIVITY: Truly, we can not overlook the enhancement in the creativity, but some of us are just hard to please with the little exposure we have as music connoisseurs. Poor lyrics, poor beats, production. I think we need a music school. People need a level of education, to help them analyse, focus and predict situations. I believe when you spend more time on something, you create quality. Some people can create a masterpiece in a night, but not everyone. I personally see a lot of intellect in Pompi’s lyrics. I see great production from KB, Magg 44, T. Sean, Shenky, Jazzy boy, Stash, Magician, Ricore and Reverb. They can still go a little further to change the game, by introducing a newly defined  level of Zambian music production. Evolution is everything. The idea of stealing beats, concepts and songs should remain in 2017. Also with creativity, everything is possible. You don’t need to feature Wizkid to sell. I mean look at Roberto.
  7. CAVALIER ATTITUDE OF FANS: If it comes to being indifferent to something, Zambians win. Zambian fans don’t give a sh*t. You really believe with this current attitude anyone in the world stands a chance to fill a stadium? You can’t blame them anyway for not finding music valuable. I mean they are loyal to politics and football. Only H.E Mr Edgar Lungu and Chipolopolo fill the stadium. This means if music is well marketed, things could change.
  8. LACK OF GOVERNMENT POLICY. I think the government should enforce some play local only laws.
  9. DEMOGRAPHICS: How do you expect a million views on a Zambian video when only a minute percentage of the population have access to the internet? I can just imagine how many views would be on YouTube had it not been for the Zambians in the diaspora. How do you expect people to buy a ticket/album for K100, when they live under the poverty line? How do you expect to make money off a population that don’t appreciate your craft?

I still believe Zambia has done good so far, just that because other industries are moving at a faster pace, we tend to think we not doing enough.Any way this just a subjective perspective, everyone is entitled to their own opinion really.

 

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Zambian Twitter- The Evolution

 

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The last couple of years to 2010 saw an escalation in internet accessibility and consequently a rapid increase in the number of Facebook sign ups. This was a trend common among so many youths especially those in high school and college. However, the twitter field was more less a desert. Enthusiasm levels were not so high for sign-ups.

There was a very minimal number of Zambians on twitter. The majority of these were in the diaspora and had benefited from early exposure to the social network because of the countries they lived in like the US and the UK. Many locals had not heard about twitter and even a few of those who signed up wished it came with a manual.

However, the population has come to grow. The arrival of the Blackberry Smart Phone saw more people sign up because the smart phone allowed them to use the app which proved more convenient and easier to use than the web version.  As the smartphone became more and more affordable more people signed up. With an affordable data plan, the blackberry was convenient for the most urban users.

In no time was some news of some Zambian users attaining verification. Crisis Mr Swagger, a Zambian rapper was the first to announce an official verification. More Zambians, musicians mostly, followed after him in obtaining verified accounts.

Zambians were also beginning to get together to discuss issues. Insaka became a popular Zambian twitter platform of discussion. Every evening, Zambians on twitter would hold discussions under the hashtag INSAKA.

By the years, Insaka lost popularity as people discovered other ways to utilise their twitter. South African twitter has been known to be so open where Sex is discussed openly and freely by users and this spread to a few young Zambians. A lot of female users claimed to be feminists suddenly and many political commentators sprung up.  Pan-African traits of Zimbabwean twitter also spread to the Zambian side.

Currently is an account called Zed Curate where each week, a new Zambian shares with other Zambians their experiences and directs topics for Zambians to discuss. Politics, the economy and social life are discussed mainly.

Of late, myriads have crossed over from Facebook. It is possible to hear stories of users who left Facebook for twitter. Some think it is all because the new audience is more mature, but Chansa Kapapula, a prominent blogger and Zambian twitter pioneer thinks people are just choosing to embrace a new social network.

Many youths have used twitter to raise awareness of social and political irregularities. Disliked politicians are usually bashed on the platform and some view this as a form of entertainment. But not only politicians are humiliated, in an environment with self-imposed, Grammar ‘correctors’, fashion police, everything is possible.

Zambian twitter remains an interesting community to be a part of.

 

NB: You can Interact with me on twitter here

#IAmAZedblogger

One of the most functional utilities online has been the hashtag. It proves to have many advantages one mainly allowing huge topics summarised into a single word allowing myriads of people to discuss it in ‘unison’. It makes it easier to know what is the most talked about stuff when a hashtag is repeatedly used by millions worldwide and later resulting into trending topics-the most talked about. Facebook recently adopted this tool, showing how eminent it is in the social world.

As bloggers in Zambia, the use of the hashtag has come in handy. We have come up with a hashtag we are calling #IAmAZedblogger .This hashtag is actually a project initiated by one Martha Kundwe who currently basically blogs on fashion.I got introduced to it last week and I agreed with her ideas on this. So this is just the beginning and is set to hopefully fully expand next year.

This system is not in any way complex. We will simply share our posts on twitter, facebook, instagram etc. using the same hashtag #IAmAZedBlogger .This way it will be easier for us bloggers and you readers to find our posts on these networks. It simply serves as an advertisement of our works. All bloggers are encouraged to use this tag and is currently strictly Zambian as it aims to unite the nation’s bloggers perhaps in due course we may come up with a continental regional tag and so on.

I personally feel this is a good idea as it presents us with a platform to be exposed.I mean what is a blog without viewers? It is like you building a mall where only you shops. We need our work to be appreciated, rationally criticised and analysed. We are not paid to do this, but inspiration among ourselves and you the readers will allow us to attain a feeling of satisfaction. I would like all Zambian bloggers to come out and show us their very best.If it means we have to compete with a goal to produce quality work, #letsbringit.Lets support each other by following eachother’s blogs and sharing every post. Let’s blog on topics that will build the nation positively.

To the readers, a blog is not a personal diary. We do this because we know you are there to consume the written art. So your support is what matters the most. You do not just end by reading, your mind should always compel you to share, like comment on the post,Retweeet and any other way you could to show us the appreciation we may deserve.A post may be useful to someone far away from you,so always be ready to share.If you think you too can write,why not join the team than waste your skill?

So lets tweet #IAmAZedBlogger.Compliments of the season 🙂