By Richard Chilango Jr and Wisdom Chikonga, Contributors
To say music is a rewarding and lucrative industry that brings forth daily bread, is a discourse prone to debate. There was a time Malawian artists strived to get their music downloaded from websites by heavily promoting their products. Fans responded and downloads skyrocketed.
For a while, you could swear that the local music industry had created a benchmark or some sort of foundation on which subsequent developments would be built on.
A couple of years passed and downloads begun plummeting before musicians could even reap and enjoy the benefits that downloads bring forth, there are a few speculations of what may have caused this. But, that is a topic for another day.
The download depression was a major blow to both artists and website owners in such a way that musicians searched and opted for alternative means of reaching and building a fan base. As a result, artists slowly begun to withdraw from uploading their music on websites that required an uploading fee because they saw no benefits in doing so.
Musicians finally conformed to using free hosting websites such as datafile host then finally decided to start sharing their music on WhatsApp, which was the lowest they could have gone. Mind you, WhatsApp has been a major disruption to the development of our music industry, fans no longer visit websites to browse for new music but instead wait for the artists themselves to create a WhatsApp group or broadcast and send them the music directly, a development that hurts the music ministry.
In an interview, Panji Harawa, who is one of the co-founders of Malawi Talents online entertainment platform, said there is need for artists to take responsibility and set a decent standard by shunning the habit of sharing their music on social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp in the wake of stimulating website music promotion.
Harawa said: “It is not professional for artists to share their music on social media platforms free of charge. On the other hand, audiences have to cope with the step-up in intensity at the business end of website music market. Audiences have to withstand the financial demands that come with downloading music on different websites.”
Harawa who owns Malawi Talents together with Aulphan Kumwenda and Moses Msukwa, was speaking on the basis that there is still light flickering at the end of the tunnel and maybe the local industry can still make strides in website music commercial.
He said: “Now that the country is making headway towards digital migration, artists need to embrace website music promotion once again. The Covid-19 pandemic appears to be fertilizing the need for musicians to depend on websites to market their music. I’m just hoping that there will be consistency from these artists once the pandemic is gone.”
Recently, we have seen established artists like Toast, Phyzix, C-Scripture and the likes indulging in strategies, which allow them to sell their music on effective local websites. Most of these artists have made a decent amount of money from their sales and this has motivated upcoming artists like Eli Njuchi to adopt such schemes to make a little something out of their music.
On Monday, April 27 2020, South Africa-based artist Robert Ching’amba Jr, alias Zeze, released his music video on Mikozi website and it took 96 hours to reach 15 000 views. A development which indicated the power that website music promotion holds in this digital age.
Speaking from his Braamfontein apartment in Johannesburg, Zeze said: “I’m very thrilled with how quick my video has reached audiences on a larger scale. It is an encouraging development for me as an artist. I would like to use this opportunity to urge my fellow Malawian artists to make use of the local music websites at their disposal if they are to have a large catchment area and make money out of their songs.”
With the coming of the pandemic, Zeze joined the trend of Malawian artists who have reached out their music to audiences in a digital fashion, after sharing his latest video on Facebook through the Mikozi application.
What is more appealing is that the video titled Power Couple took only 96 hours to reach 15 000 views and all the comments attached were encouraging. Novahiwa Sauzande, a fan on Facebook commented: “Game mwaiponyela kunthambo za magetsi.”
Zeze said: “I never saw it coming, the online music sharing strategy is very rewarding because it presents artists with a huge catchment area and exposure is one important factor in the music industry.”
The artists did earlier post a snippet of his upcoming video on You Tube, and he says he felt the attention he got was just a fluke until history repeated itself when he shared Power Couple.
“Now that we are faced with a pandemic, it is time for artists to exercise diversity in terms of exploring music sharing strategies that suit the immediate status quo,” he said.
Zeze started his music journey as a Seventh Day Adventist church (SDA) artist embracing acapella music before rebranding to secular music in 2011 when he dropped Tseke Tseke alongside his relation GD of Daredevils. His breakthrough came in 2014 after featuring GD in the Chikondi Chikangoyamba hit song. Recently, he released Gabadinho, an Amapiano song that was trending as DJ Maphorisa’s song. To this day, Zeze has collaborated with artists such as Tay Grin, Daredevils, Jillz and Provoice just to mention but a few.