Eight years ago, a Malawian musician needed to part ways with K12, 000 to produce an album in a studio. Now a 10 track album can cost the musician close to K50, 000.
But within this eight-year period, the musician is still getting K25 from a copy of their album from distributors.
At one time the Prof confronted Musicians Association of Malawi (MAM) President Costen Mapemba why musicians, he is supposed help protecting are still slaving for the distributors.
Distributors like O.G Issa had even the cheek to declare that they were operating on losses and therefore they could not raise the stakes for the musician.
Imagine in 2003 we were buying a compact album cassette for K80 and this is the time that the musician was getting K25 per copy. What is ironic is that while the prices have been going up, the musician has stuck with this pittance.
It has now taken verbal fight between the distributors and MAM President to now have it adjusted by K5. Mapemba almost made me laugh my lungs out when he said in fact the distributors wanted it hiked by K3.
The excuse still given is that O.G Issa, for example, has been distributing Malawi music over 14 or so years at a loss and he has not stopped. Do you believe this?
While MAM is still to blame for failing to put in place a system that can check exploitation by ensuring that alternative channels of distribution can be utilised, for reasons I am not ready to presume, they remained undecided.
There is no one that can think the future of the musicians but the musicians themselves.
The starting point is or was the establishment of the musician association which is at the moment trying to become the Musicians Union of Malawi – of course this is a story for another day.
In my mind of minds, I still believe as a music guiding body, MAM needed a robust approach to enter deals with other retailers of repute.
Take Shoprite, Peoples or Metro chain of stores et cetera for example, I doubt if MAM has ever tried to take steps towards establishing sections within these retail facilities after entering musical deals with them.
Music, at most is not something that a consumer will wake up one day to buy. It is only on special occasions, that are most of the times provoked by celebrations of sorts or when one runs into a hit that has captivated them that they would start hunting for such particular music.
People buy music when they are hit with something that enters their earshot. They would pause a bit and enquire what music it is before purchasing it.
Usually they would do that when they visit retail shops like ones mentioned above. I know the company that distributes Wambali Mkandawire’s music has taken advantage of book shops and internet cafes in the country.
MAM therefore should have stricken deals with all points that use music for their good to market such.
MAM needed to create a properly built mechanism that would ensure that a musician profits at the end of the day.
There is a ploy that the distributors employ which rips off musicians. Everyone in the music industry is aware of it but there has just been a resignation where everyone thinks they are helpless and cannot do anything about it.
MAM would have even established independent selling points for musicians by involving the very musicians to be marketing, promoting and distributing music.
If we had a number of alternatives in the aspect of marketing, promoting and distributing music, distributors like O.G Issa would come crawling to get a deal from musicians, knowing what gold the music industry is offering.
Nyimbo Music Company says it has structures that will enable it achieve this. This could be the starting point and with involvement of all genuinely concerned stakeholders, a better way of making musicians victorious can be achieved.
If you still look at K30 that the artist would have to get per copy, you still will have to endure with the headache of calculating what would be the gains that the distributor chalks home.
And this has to be against what this will help to push the poverty stricken musician deep into penury.