Whither Malawi’s Music Labels?


Weighing football against music sounds practically impossible, but I like comparing the two; more so when it comes to signing contracts and other related issues.
More than once, music labels in Malawi emerge and disappear leaving lives of the would be benefiting musician still the same if not worse; while signed and sealed contracts remained locked up gathering dust somewhere.
This is where the urge to compare the two comes in. You hear a footballer has signed a contract with such and such club and you know how much money he will be carting home and all what have you, but with music, you find that the story is never the same.
I will mention but a few music labels that have ever graced headlines in the country. Let us help one another to trace where they now are, what they are now doing and how many artists are singing hallelujah because they are beneficiaries of such music labels.
“Rush Records is a Malawian owned music company that offers music production, Artist management and music project management,” scream the introductory remarks of this label on its website.
It claims that it has produced and managed Goodson Gomonda, Fugie Kasipa, Basement, while Kenny ‘ Shawishe ‘ Klips, Desert Eagle, Young Kay are among many others under the label.
Then there is J & D Record Company, which recorded Limbani Banda’s “Umodzi ndi Mphamvu” album in 2008, besides producing other albums like George Mkandawire’s ‘Pemphero’, and Sally Nyundo’s ‘Usadandaule Malawi’.
J & D’s website says it is currently working on albums for Agorosso, Rudo Mkukupa, Evans Mereka and Zebron Kankhunda, as well as Sweeny Chimkango, I am not even sure when it was last updated.
As if these labels are not enough, then there is Black Rhyno Entertainment Company whose CEO is local hip-hop mogul himself Tay Grin.
When this label emerged like all the rest it was noisy; the message was … it had come to work with Malawian musicians that are determined to further career and promote country’s music industry abroad.
One of its objectives was to push more Malawian musicians to feature on video music TV channels like Channel O, MTV Base, and Trace etc.
Long before all these emerged, Zembani Music Company bent at uplifting unknown musicians and turning them into household names.
I do not want to laugh off efforts that have been shown by these labels out rightly but while I am giving them the benefit of doubt I want us all to agree if ever, since we started hearing about these music labels we can say without fear or favour that Malawian musicians have now made it.
I do not know how much you can say about Peter Mawanga who also has a record label known as Rhythm of Life.
By the way, Mawanga is that super Malawian musician who hogged the lime light as Peter Paine before he started fusing indigenous Malawian music with international standard recordings to create a unique Malawian genre.
Through his label, Mawanga found what he calls Talents of Malawian Child (TMC) where he is now teaching orphaned children to form and develop music groups. The label is supposed to record, produce their work, market their albums and organise performances for them, indeed typical of a record label. The proceeds of the albums are supposed to pay the orphans’ school fees besides clothing them.
Whether all this is now happening is not for me to say…
In short, are our Malawian music labels doing what they are supposed to?

Feedback: drummingpen@columinist.com

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About Gregory Gondwe - Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Gregory Gondwe is a Malawian journalist who started practising journalism in 1993. Until March 31, 2012 he was regional editor and bureau chief for Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS). Gregory is also a media consultant assisting several international journalists pursuing assignments in Malawi. He holds a Diploma of Journalism and an Intermediate Certificate in Journalism among other media-related certificates. He is also columnist for Malawi's first and oldest weekly, Malawi News. He can be contacted on gregorygondwe@gmail.com.
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2 Responses to Whither Malawi’s Music Labels?

  1. Moses Masangano says:

    The problem may be the Bussiness Environment since “Piracy” is a thing of the day. You have to know that these Labels run their duties on Revenue and this malpractice of Piracy Hinder their sales on the Market which makes them to shut down. My argument is that, only if the Malawian government can play a role to set Policies against piracy then these record Labels and future record Labels will perform better and our country can become a Music Exporting Nation and not an Importing Nation as it is in the present day.

  2. Moses Masangano says:

    The problem may be the Bussiness Environment since “Piracy” is a thing of the day. You have to know that these Labels run their duties on Revenue and this malpractice of Piracy Hinder their sales on the Market which makes them to shut down. My argument is that, only if the Malawian government can play a role to set Policies against piracy then these record rebels and future record rebels will perform better and our country can become a Music Exporting Nation and not an Importing Nation as it is in the present day.

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