TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
“My business is build by other human beings. I can’t be mean to the very people I sell my product to.” -Zonke Dikana (True love, May, 2018)
I for once used to think it is only in Malawi where the issue of sells, piracy and of course deals matter a lot than other countries. Nay! Even in other countries, music is taken seriously, and artists, musicians, and the bandwagon in this line of duty know that music is the source of their bread and butter.
So, like any other business, they treat music as a market product just like malambe juice or those clogs you hide in your closet. The question that got my head swell was: Why do we play with this product here in Malawi?
As your SCC has come to a conclusion that lots of artists amayesa (test) the game of music if it will really work. Of course it’s just a metaphor used in any business, because money is not a game but a need to survive in a country like ours.
Checking that opening statement by Zonke (above) reminds me that artists here in MW lose the very basic things in how to run their music as business.
To say the truth this letter has erupted with what other established (not all) are doing by incorporating real business ideas in their music: we talking selling brands with financial advocacy in it, thus at the very same shows artist are collaborating…rephrase that-are partnering with the corporate giants to support their cause, some even are taking on board organizations that share their musical concepts, and the deals are not free: Mullah baby!
In turn, the fans are getting this entire package free of charge or atleast at a meaningful price, but most importantly, these artists are expanded their fan base. No wonder, some of these artists are still holding the top charts of music in Malawi. Almost everyone follows them and know who they are; a good business concept.
I am not saying you should all do the same free of charge shows or follow the above ultimate strategy to sell your brand as an artist. Nop! But if you want to make it in the warm heart at the moment, then at least get some business in your music; treat it as an investment. That means if you made 100 bucks from your previous show, you will know what to do with that kopala.This is no illuminati, but networking, investing and impressing your audience.
Mind you, to impress the fans that buy your music or consume your products, you have to understand what they like, and want from you. That means you can’t just put your music online, but try linking up with them face to face; movement is important here. Be visible. People will know you matter. The same happens to big authors like Stephen King who have written excellent works, but people won’t read their material if they just sit in their closet of their big mansion or castle somewhere. They do book readings with book fans. It is true everywhere in the world. Put your time in it, or you will receive no calls for deals or folks won’t offer you any help.
And talking of deals, another musical business concept in Malawi is the recent first ever big example of a signing of some top artists, coming together to push music to another level-the business level; showcasing how business is done, hope this is no testing. Let’s just watch the throne.
The recent big name signing is a lesson to some of you that it does not matter if you started a long time ago, but if you don’t expand your brand, you will still remain where you were years ago, and people will be wondering who you are.
Musical legends like Wambali Mkandawire continue to experiment and make classics albums, and those who respect their craft buy their works. This is a dude who has sung in multilingual, and has another of his albums with no lyrics but good music, and ask him why? He understands that his fans are heterogonous, so he respects their tastes together with his; an example of a true artist, and a great musician.
Even if you listen to NEW J Cole trap album, you will hear some French in there, what of Distant relatives by Nas and Damian, did you hear the Bambara touch in the hook? Need I mention almost if not all of Diamond Platinumz’ songs? That Swahili touch? These are examples of what it means to understand the buyer-seller relationship. As an artist know where to place your standard bar.
I mean enough has been said, and those who have ears have heard what the people have said, make your music business, respect your fans and shoot for the moon. Otherwise quit the game! Period!