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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SONG REVIEW: MIXXY’S PA EASY ft AFUNIKA

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Micaiah Ng’onga ‘Mixxy‘ is a third year Survey major student at the Copperbelt University. He is one of the Zambian upcoming artists on fire. He  has  done  a  couple of  other  songs  that  have  received  airplay on  some radio stations  and  clubs in  Lusaka. He has worked with Royal Prince and Mari fro­m  Cabin records. On  this  new  jam, he  features the king of New Version of Kalindula, Afunika.

Pa easy is a song that reminds us of how speed kills. Mixxy is advising us to take it easy because the consequences of speed is crushing.

The  proverbial being that  ‘life  ain’t  no  crystal stair‘ limits the shocks of  the  results  of  shortcuts taken  to succeed. Many people  take  shortcuts to  improve  their  lives  or  decide  to  create   a  dangerous or risky definition of  pleasure.

These  days  young  girls and boys tend  to  become  regular club partakers  which  is  really cool if  they  think  about  it, but  the  thing  is  they  have  yet  to  go  to  university,  but they  are  exposing  themselves  to wrong  people and  creating  a  wrong  impression as  they  become  alcoholics at  a  tender  age. They  begin  to engage  in  adult  activities and  as  Afunika sings in  the  chorus, Ichalo ichi Chilalya  (The  world eats), a bemba saying symbolic of   death. There is HIV and other consequences through such behavior which again results to death. Mixxy urges young youths to wake up and take  it  easy because everything  has  it’s  own  time.

To terminate suffering or because of  envy of people acquiring possession, people  seek  shortcuts to  get  money  or  get  rich. People  tend   to  take  part  in  illegal activities like  corruption and  theft. Eventually the  crimes  catch up  with you and  you  are  put  behind bars. Before this  happens to  you, Mixxy reminds  you  to  take  it  easy.

There  are  plenty  other  situations or  examples where  we  can’t  take  it  easy  and   so   whenever  we  try  to rush let  us  be  able to  think  of  the  consequences and  eventually refrain from  such an  action.

You  can  have  a  listen/download of  PA  EASY HERE. Please  remember to support MIXXY and share. You  can  also drop your  views of  the  song  in  the  comment box  below.

THE ZAMBIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY: INTERNATIONAL PLATFORM (PART TWO)

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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