Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Living as a musician in Malawi

Making a fortune in Malawi as a musician is not easy because the industry is disorganized with no regulation, leading to loss of revenue for the sector. However there are activities allow for the music sales going on unabated in the industry. Unlike in the past, though this time round musicians are no longer depending on the sales of their musical albums on the market but rather conducting local tours for live performances.
Recording Deals
True to observations made by a Malawian registered company Rhythm of Life, Malawi has no established record labels, no professional recording studios. There are no meaningful record deals except on a few occasions where a group of performing artists have teamed up to offer contracts to performers which include recording deals. Malawi has plenty of uncoordinated and unprofessionally run recording spaces mistakenly called studios. Most musicians end up establishing such spaces.
Record Sales
Before musicians would visit these places and some other professionally operated studios like Andiamo Studios owned by the Catholic Church and MC Studios which would record musicians. Soon after getting the master copy they would then take it to Afri Music Company for duplication and distribution of their albums.
Until last year this company has been doing this for the last 30 years and had seven wholesale outlets that it was supplying where street vendors would visit to purchase music albums that they would sell at retail.
At that time the vendors would travel from all across the country to purchase album cassettes for re-sale but soon after the company was closed musicians have been struggling to sell. At that time one artist would sell 600,000 pieces but now they can afford even 500 copies.
Lately there has been introduction of online sales which has left out Malawi’s biggest music buying populace.
Live Performance & Touring
As a result of this most musicians are resorting to conducting live performances in different spots of the country from January to December without enough resting space and time for new productions in studios.
The challenge in this aspect is lack of musical equipment. Other entrepreneurs have taken advantage by investing in this aspect and hiring out their equipment to the musicians.
There are at least three investors in Malawi that are known to lent out their musical equipment and these include lawyer Jai Banda who trades as Entertainers Promotion, sound engineer Lemekezani Phiri as well as Mibawa One Stop Multimedia and Events Management Centre owned by entertainment entrepreneur John Nthakomwa.
Radio/TV Airplay
This is another challenge as people or DJs at the helm of these media platforms are abusing the system by demanding bribes from musicians if they want their music to gain airtime. Musicians fall for this demand as the more the local TVs and radio stations play their music the more they will gate famous even when it does not translate into anything on the financial gains.

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