Saturday, February 16, 2013
Breaking the International jinx
Lucius Banda says he wants to break the international jinx by start selling his music to the international market, in earnest.
I don’t know where he is getting the courage to think that this time round it will work, considering that he made his first album in South Africa and even went back and forth to record one or single tracks in subsequent albums. This is also not the first time he has said this nor will it be the last time.
Recently, one of the known music producers in the country Percy Manyozo, who owns Pro-Pee Studios in Blantyre, while admitting that as music makers they are culpable for poor quality production, said musicians themselves share the blame.
Manyozo thinks there might be two ways to explain the poor quality music on the market.
One, the musicians might just not fit to be called musicians but resources and not talent allow them to utilise musical studios. The worst case scenario which is two is when the producers leave such a person to do the work on their own without giving them directions.
You might despise the young Manyozo but seriously take what he is saying with some respect, considering that he has produced artists like Maskal in his debut album Nthawi as well as Young Kay, Piksy, Armstrong, Dan Lufani, Code, Sam Simakweli, Third Eye, Lomwe, Tigris, Cyclone, Kumbu, Blasto and Black Missionaries.
This is not anything new in what he is saying; only that it is something that is coming latest on the scene.
I think Lucius seems to have been tired once more to always roll with the punches in as far as poor quality output is concerned and he decided to descend south again.
Lucius has at one time tried to make me walk a mile in his shoes when he invited me to Nyimbo Studios some two years ago to have a feel of what is involved when recording.
Now he has not only gone to South Africa to record but he has also collaborated with the South African outfit that used to back the fallen Lucky Dube, The Slaves. He is to record six songs at the studio that used to produce Dube. You cannot dispute such ambition if you consider the quality of Dube’s music.
I am not sure if a few times that he was in South Africa in the past exploits he ever tried to market his music on the international market. But this time round he says he intends – put it in his words - ‘spread through the world’ the music he is currently producing.
The local market has been tried and tested and I guess it has been found wanting. The Malawi musician, who is able, has decided to stick to the road, travelling from Nsanje to Chitipa from January to December just to become somebody.
It has, however, proven to be tricky when it comes to producing music and finding a buyer. If the musician will have such a buyer flocking to get his music then it is not through the selling points but the rundown rickety-computer infested, grunginess looking spots spread all over urban locations, with signs ‘Timabena music’ or ‘We burn music’.
This is where the artists are losing out and this is where the Musicians Association of Malawi has to come in. In the days ago I used to think that MAM cannot bring any beneficial returns to the musician because it was being led by people who either knew little or knew nothing about music.
But with the ushering into the top spot of Rev. Chimwemwe Mhango, who besides his theology studies also boasts advanced musical studies, I thought maybe it is time the Malawi musician enjoyed the much needed upliftment.
But what do we have? The same old song.
By now we surely should have had a few artists reading music. By now MAM should have invited the international experts to let the musicians undergo a kind of training where they would learn that after producing CD or DCD albums what marketing expertise should be employed.
By now the so called music labels should have been taught what is expected of them in terms of promotion and distribution for example.
Running music label is not about making one artist signing to become a mobile phone firm ambassador or joining hands with a bottle store that has outlets in other countries where your so called ‘artists under our label’ can go and get exploited.
No wonder Lucius’ intention to get the international market is to let his local producer Ralph Ching’amba, also in South Africa, to try to cut some distribution deals, for him, with companies there to that his music is spread globally.
Come one people! How long have we known Ching’amba? And how many artists has he so far produced? What is so special this time that he can do the job?
By the way, does MAM conduct need assessment for the music industry and its players? If it does, would anyone care to tell me what is required?