Musicians Union of Malawi (MUM) have accused the broadcast media of not doing enough to promote local talent as they favour international music.
Speaking at a press conference in Lilongwe, the musicians took turns to lambast what they termed as unpatriotic behaviour by both radio and television stations’ focus on international music such as from Zambia, South Africa, Nigeria, UK and US.
“Radio and television stations are not helping us in Malawi. There’s too much international music much to the detriment of the growth of the local industry. How do you expect a Malawian musician to earn a living then when they are not being promoted through radio and television play? This means little loyalties from Cosoma,” vented MUM president Chimwemwe Mhango.
He added that most of the countries which enjoy massive airplay in Malawi do not play Malawian music.
“When you go outside the country, you are amazed with the respect people give to our music because it’s distinct, uniquely Malawian. But what do we do in turn? Play Zambian music which I must say is not good at all,” fumed Mhango.
His sentiments were echoed by R’n’B crooner Lulu who said Malawian broadcasters give too much undeserving respect to international musicians.
“For some of us who have been privileged to travel outside the country, we know that you cannot listen to a Malawian track as often as possible on radio stations in South Africa, Kenya or Nigeria.
“Yet when we host musicians from such countries, right at the airport they get a treat of their own music. This is not on as it is killing the industry because we have so many talented artists who are even better than more than those we glorify. We have the potential to conquer the music scene in Africa and beyond, but only when our effort is appreciated and accorded the support and respect it deserves,” explained the artist.
Other artists who contributed to the emotional discussion were gospel artist Rudo Chakwera, who challenged that her father, the legendary jazz maestro Isaac Mkukupha, has nothing tangible to show as a musician despite years of experience in the industry.
She also wondered how local stations come up with international music charts.
Ex-MUM president Wellington Chatepa suggested that radio and television stations in the country adopt a deliberate policy to play, for instance, 90 percent local music.
However, in an interview, celebrated radio presenter Frank Kandu of MBC Radio 2 said the local industry will not grow through music airplay on broadcast media, but rather production of good music.
“Radio stations will not play trash just to promote local music. Music is like any other business as such radio stations are driven by demand. Most of the lacal music is not as good no wonder we are playing music from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and other neighbouring countries because the artists there have something that a Malawian would want to listen to.
“By the way, about 80 percent of music played on MBC Radio One is local and Radio 2 FM has about 40 percent of its programming dedicated to local music. Again, if we are not playing local music, then how come Cosoma say we owe them a lot of money in royalties?” he questioned.
Kandu also said international musicians invest in music production, a rarity among locals.
He said: “Artists such as Beyonce, Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, Adele and even in near-by South Africa where names such as AKA, Black Coffee, Uhuru and Mafikizolo just to mention a few, have quickly come on the limelight, have spent time to produce quality music while here artists are in a hurry. You listen to some music and ask yourself that was there a producer really?” n