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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- LACK OF GOVERNMENT POLICY. I think the government should enforce some play local only laws.
- 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.