Why clear role is key to music success [Citizen, The (Tanzania)]
(Citizen, The (Tanzania) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Dar es Salaam. The art is great, the enthusiasm is there and above all the creativity has been breathtaking, but even then all is not well in the performing arts in Tanzania.
It just doesn't make sense on the business end of things and as a result most artistes hardly gain anything from their creative efforts.
In the past many have pointed fingers towards those they accused of underpaying them but as years go by it is becoming a fact that it is more of a structural issue.
"What we lack in this industry is a well detailed structure on how everything is supposed to work, who does what and so on," Ruge Mutahaba once said.
In fact, most times artistes only come to realise that they are directing their energies toward the wrong direction.
This week at consultative workshop held at the Bank of Tanzania auditorium and moderated by a team from the US, several issues came to the surface to confirm some of these fears.
The team of American panellists was led by Chaka Zulu who manages Ludacris, Terrence J of the 'Think Like a Man Too', Ravi Shelton and David Banner a producer, rapper and an occasional actor.
The team was in the country on the President's invitation, based on the fact that music and movies currently employ thousands of young people.
And there was plenty to discuss, from topics such as understanding the structure of the music business to building brands, creating value and much more.
"It was a goodwill from the President who believes that films and music if marketed properly can be a great source of income for both those who are directly and indirectly involved," says a source privy to the organisers.
With over 100 artistes and stakeholders convening at the BoT auditorium the stage was set for a lively debate as differences were put apart and alliances were forged.
The mood had been set earlier on over the weekend with the screening of 'Think Like a Man Too' at Century Cinema in Dar es Salaam where the lead actor Terrance J was at hand.
The consensus among the artistes was that there was need to formalise the structure of the local industry which has plenty of talent yet nothing meaningful is being realized save for a few.
Exploiting local markets
Leading the four-man panel Chaka Zulu sharing his American experience said the current focus should be on independence.
"It is important that as an artiste you do most of the things on your own because it all starts with the creative efforts of an artiste before anyone else can be involved," said Chaka.
He urged the artistes that before they look for fields elsewhere to further their music they should first maximize the potential that the 45 million people in Tanzania provide.
"It all starts from that small local perspective, that little space before it can become a phenomenon," said Chaka who co-founded DTP as a record label.
But as he called on the artistes to exploit the markets available, his advice was that art should be their driving force.
"Unlike what many young people think, at this level art should be your driving force, the percentages will come later. As you grow you negotiate according to what you bring to the table," he said.
In a world that artistes come and go, the panellists advised that artistes as products have to brand themselves because that is what at the end of the day defines them.
"You have to brand yourself when people still believe in you, creating a brand and letting people know what you do will at the end of the day set you free," says Banner.
He adds: Choose the type of people that you want to speak to because no single artiste represents everyone, speak on things that people connect with, in that way you affect their lives positively.
He adds that through branding that is how corporate entities start developing the desire to associate an artiste with their products because if it is a successful brand then definitely they are sure they will gain mileage.
In recent years there has been an increasing desire by local artistes to do collabos with international artistes something that David Banner thinks is at times a trap. "Don't fall into someone else's image because when their period is over they go down with you," said the rapper.
Even at a time when some local artistes are trying to copy Nigerian music to suit the demand on the local market and beyond the team was categorical that this was not the way to go.
"Quick fixes only work for a short time and the only way to stay in the game for a long period is by staying true to your core values as these will always stand the test of time," said Chaka Zulu answering a question posed by singer TID.
As a product artistes were called upon to time the release of their songs to match the general feeling of the moment.
Giving examples from his native America actor Terrence J said different times deserve different types of music.
"You cannot release a summer song during winter, people might just not understand what your motives are," he said.
In the absence of a proper retailing system the team advised that support among the artistes is vital for any growth to be realised.
As such thorny issues reared their ugly heads there was an agreement that there was a long way to go and maybe soon the artistes shall come back again.
With the Americans gone, issues such as Cosota's role in the industry, taxation and even credit facilities to artistes are some of the thorny issues that require urgent redress.
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