Hangout Festival organisers have said local artists need to be more organised and always demand detailed contracts before committing to perform at an event.
Hangout Festival national coordinator Levi Msakambewa said this following a fall out with two local artists, Kell Kay and Ennoh who alleged that they were treated unfairly by the organisers, leading to their decision to withdraw. The festival took place over the weekend in Salima.
“I will admit that we had several challenges that made us fail to fulfil some of the demands that the two artists made at the last minute. But we had no written contracts with them, save for the verbal agreements,” he said.
Msakambewa said though the two artists accused the organisers of several failures, the truth is that they made the demands at the last minute and it was hard for them to do the needful.
“With the international artists, it was easy to handle them since we had detailed written contracts signed by both parties. They fulfilled their part and we did likewise. On the local front, I think both sides can do better,” he said.
Musician Kell Kay wrote on his official Facebook page hours before he was scheduled to perform at Hangout Festival that he was not going to do so.
A day later, another artist who was billed to perform at the same festival, Ennoh, issued a statement alleging mistreatment from the organisers.
“The amount they were going to pay me was stinking exploitation. However, I accepted. We, therefore, cannot fault them for that. The only irritating thing was they never responded to my calls when I called to inquire about certain things,” reads his highly-charged statement.
The two artists’ statements ignited the long-standing debate that local festivals prefer international artists as headliners while ignoring or paying local artists little.
In separate interviews, musician Lulu and Black Missionaries Band leader Anjiru Fumulani admitted that most local artists do perform at events without signing contracts.
Said Lulu: “I think artists get excited to just go and perform at an event that is being hyped as big without demanding a legally-binding contract.
“In my case, I either sign a contract or give them a quotation of my services which clearly stipulates what I expect from organisers. We must accept, we as artists are perpetuating our own exploitation by the event organisers by not signing contracts.”
Fumulani, on his part, said as Black Missionaries Band, through their manager, they always ask for written contracts to protect themselves from exploitation. But he admitted that at times gentleman’s agreements come in, especially when artists become familiar with organisers.
“We cannot entirely fault the organisers. As artists we can do better by demanding contracts, but if you go around and ask, the majority does not ask for contracts. Only a handful of us do sigh contracts at certain events, not always,” Fumulani said.
He, therefore, advised artists not to show that they are desperate when organisers approach them for a possible performance at their events.
“It’s all about value. These international artists value their work and they demand a detailed contract which they read and understand. I think artists also need managers,” said the Ma Blacks frontman.
In an earlier discussion, Sand Music Festival founder Lucius Banda said every artists has his/her price.
“Every artist comes as a package and that artist negotiates his price accordingly. Let every artist bargain their own price for an appearance,” said Banda during the SandFest which took place last month.