Selling Singles to Dodge Mediocrity


A single in musical parlance is when an artist has released just one track for the consumers. While in other musical industries best singles have scaled the heights and turned artists instant millionaires, in Malawi it is a different story altogether.
In the past, Ben Michael Mankhamba was so good at releasing singles which in the end he would pool into an album.
While the disadvantage is that others have become known as one-hit-stars, other clever artists have used it as a yardstick to gauge if they could be accepted in the industry.
But like it is the trend in the world of art, a masterpiece is never common; and for sure other artists have released just one song and that has been their end, no one has ever heard of them, but their one song has stood the test of time.
Other songs though, have come and achieved fame but disappeared from the musical scene together with their performers. Remember ‘Maganizo Kukoma’ done by Rudy K and Ital Man? What about Wiza Kaunda? He sang about discrimination that people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS experience. These only hit the market with these single tracks but then disappeared.
Then there is that Lilongwe based reggae star who show biz as Danie Muyaya and The Yebonaz he released a reggae track ‘Timba’ but never came on the scene again at least until now.
There is also Nameless an artist that came on the scene with ‘KC and Bobo’ and then ‘China’. Another appealing song with a powerful message and compelling voice by Alex Kamonga called ‘Chibwana Chimalanda’ only came hot as a single.
An artist called Nepman also brought his ‘Malipe Dance’ and disappeared the same with Physics and his ‘Cholapisa’, who even when he tried to come back, he is failing to reach the standards he had set with this one.
What I am saying is that it is never known whether the single tracks that, by Malawian standards, froze the musical industry when they were released, were part of album compilation or just singles.
Some consumers that I have talked to say some artists have traded them a raw deal when out of 10 or 12 even 14 tracks album there is only one that is a hit while the rest becomes mere flops.
I have in mind one by Tingo and Khemeneng’e who notched out the hit ‘Ambuye Muwapase Moyo’ like was the Balaka based Innocent Banda with his track ‘Tiyambirenso Chikondi’
Another track ‘Chimtofu’ by Ashawishe was placed in an album where the rest of the tracks are mediocre and since the artists is also a radio DJ he has ever confessed that he was forced to come up with an album to accommodate this track.
A question that artists would ask is how else do you get wasteful? Is it serious to release just a single track after making a sleeve, buying CDs and doing all the stuff? My answer is simply yes it is possible.
Provided it is well guarded against piracy, this one track can sell big time, other than watering down its finer quality just for the sake of adding quantity to the album.
The other option is to try to start exploring on-line sells; and with the age of computer where piracy is the in thing, artists must learn to patiently spend their time doing nothing but perfecting a single track that should still linger in the ears of consumers long after the musical player has been switched off. A track that is not even bubblegum; but one that is as timeless as the music industry deserve.
Malawi has reached that stage where it should rather have two quality songs produced by its artists other than trillions of tracks made by thousands of artists that are all but mediocre, and a shame to let other people from other parts of the world listen to.

drummingpen@columnist.com

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