Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Flash disk Patrons


To sell 700 copies at a single musical show, in one night and at K1000 a copy is a feat that can translate into something else. Already, this means K700, 000 a night and this is excluding gate, plus hire collections.
Assuming that the artist is going to perform in all the 52 Saturdays in a year, he would make K36.4 million in sales of their music alone.
Well, forget about this figure; this can only happen in my fantasy world. But the point I am trying to drive home is, Malawian music followers are helping the industry to drown into a quagmire of retrogression.
I am home this week reading my daily newspapers and suddenly, an article in the entertainment page just balls out into my face screaming: “Skeffa Sells more outside”. It looked like my one time entry right here, where I pointed out that this artist is more respected in neighbouring Zambia than here.
Right on the mark Skeffa Chimoto mentions Zambia as a place where he was able to sell over 700 copies of his music to fans that had patronised his show.
This is unlike home here where we have all sorts of Jack and Jill running some rundown cafe with two or a single rickety computer that is leaking out musicians’ wealth of their lifetime.
For you to get the music all you need is a flash disk or a mobile phone that can take in some media and some K100 and you will get all the albums that Lucius Banda, for example, has come up with over the years.
These ‘flash disk patrons’ for one thing, are always in the forefront cursing the artists for lack of innovativeness, ingenuity and progress, forgetting that for artists to achieve such they require resources.
If we were willing as a proud country to have our musicians reach the dizzying height we surely were supposed to dig deep in our pockets and patronise the work of our artists so that with our buying of their products they can be fired n an ingenious sense and give us even better material that can stand the international test.
I hear OG. Issah that music distributor that started some six decades ago has stopped doing something he has only known best in his life because no soul, no longer goes before his counter to buy music. People have now found a way of getting music cheaply and without regard to its maker.
One might laugh off the decision by the distributor, but one thing you might not realise is that even patronage of music through flash disk would be snuffed if materials will no longer be forthcoming.
The musicians themselves feel the pinch that is why in every music video album our musicians produce these days they will make sure to warn against piracy.
Much as we might gloss over such warning in the conviction that there is no system in this country to track down music pirates in earnest, one thing which has to stand out clearly is the fact that we are helping in making our music industry achieve some mediocre status.  
In the past I used to scream mad at radio stations, including the mother institution the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) which at one time equally behaved like a flash disk patron.
They would get the music through the flash disk but still fail to pay for royalties incurred because the music was being played to the public as it were.
The same was the case with entertainment joints that have our music as its heartbeat. If you remove the music it means you are getting rid of the pulsation and consequently killing it.
Owners of such places, just like owners of radio stations have realised that there can never be without music. Pity though they have this feeling that music just comes into flash disks without deeply thinking about sleepless nights that one spent to compose the lyrics and even the accompanying instrumentation to come up with the music that brings fame to their joints.
There is something terribly wrong with a culture of getting things on a silver platter. It feels the same way as the culture of getting free lunch. It kills the spirit of discernment where you have a special place for the maker of your favourite music.
Because the moment a patron has respect for the artist who makes their favourite music the only way to give back is when you buy – read me tight here – buying their compact discs of DVDs and not letting some virus infested computer empty hard earned music products into your flash disk at the expense of the maker of such music.
One other good thing is that we have our music selling at very affordable prices and there is no way anyone can claim that they can manage a music player but not the music that gives the gadget meaning for its existence. 
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