Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Getting a decade’s Pay in One Day


It would really be unfair to think that an old saying, ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ fits well with the monetary scenario of our musicians.
This is where it is said that once our musicians get money it evaporates in a split of second; even more quickly than boiled water in a Sahara desert.
To start with, someone explained to me that the reason some of us that are under a payroll of companies that we work for seem to be doing well, even until we retire, is because the companies control us, especially on how much we can spend within a month.
The salaries we get, which is then divided by way of a medical scheme and pension help us not to waste money unnecessarily.
The scenario is different with musicians. You remember how some musicians became millionaires overnight and how he blew all this money by living a high life, only to be dragged out of the Ivy League when they spent all the resources meant for their future.
The money that I would make in a decade can equal the money that a musician would make after selling a single album within a month.
What this means therefore is that we need the musicians to be taught, or to realise that this money that musicians make after sell of a single album is not to be spent today only and this is where the aspect of savings comes in.
Apart from very few musicians that have managed to invest, most musicians die very poor not because they never had an opportunity to amass a lot of wealth, but because they never managed it well.
Of course we have exceptions like Stonard Lungu who despite very good music that he produced over the years he never had an opportunity to earn money from his toils.
If you go on the market, you will be able to get any album that you would want to get for Joseph Nkasa or Lucius Banda, but you will not find anything at all for Lungu.
There was a time that I was looking for a track that Lungu had done and when I asked him he said he does not have it but I could get it from the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation.
This is because the industry has no money but a few have managed to get money out of luck.
When I talk of luck, what quickly comes to mind is the situation of Maskal and Piksy; one is the ambassador for Access while the other is for Airtel respectively.
When you think of how much Lulu and Dan Lu have been around in the industry as compared to Maskal and Piksy, you would realise that these would have been considered for the ambassadorial stints.
But luck does not follow a known pattern and this is why the monies that the artists are making today, better be well managed.
Their income today might peak or plunge unlike those that are on a salary.
The reason there is a failing on the part of managing these resources should not be left in the hands of artists themselves.
Bodies like the ministries of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture, Copyright Society of Malawi and even the Musicians Association of Malawi (MAM) should cultivate the entrepreneurial aspect of what these musicians meet in the course of their careers and how best they can invest their resources for posterity’s sake.
The bodies mentioned above should really be ashamed when musicians ask for alms even when they have a pool of wealth in their veins.
It is because of lack of action from these bodies that the Music industry in Malawi continues to be elusive to the main player who matters in the business.
The musician should stop to still being a beggar even in the face of all the talent, effort, sacrifice and courage to bring something on the music market.
For the musicians to be able to invest something has to also be done to some of the culprits that make musicians fail to achieve anything at all. The Malawi Broadcasting Corporation – MBC loves to play the music from the local artists although they do not love to pay back in form of royalties.
At one point Cosoma complained that MBC had a debt of K50 million in royalty arrears.
Executive Director for Cosoma Dora Makwinja left me with an impression as a woman who is resolute to protecting talent.
She once told me that as a body, she will ensure that not only is talent for the artist protected but that the artist also benefits from his or her endeavour.
As a country, we are yet to be on the road to achieve anything in this aspect because vultures are on the loose to pounce on anything that is on the market which they reproduce and sell while the artist is not even aware of what is happening.
So while we try to teach the musician to invest, let first help them market their music which we terribly failed to do with Lungu and let’s pay what is due to musicians.
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