Malawi’s Richest Musician


Do Malawians know at all who the richest musician in Malawi is? Do we know our musicians accumulate their wealth? But do they have wealth? Some mind boggling questions that we need answers for.

I was checking Forbes 2011 list of ten highest paid musicians and I discovered that most of the artists are making it through live performances.

By rank of the wealthiest the following is the Forbes’s list:
U2 – 195 million US dollars
They are called the ageless rockers who are wrapping up the most lucrative tour in the history of music.
By the time U2’s two-year trek ends this summer the band will have sold US$700m worth of tickets over two years and played to more than 7 million people.
Bon Jovi – 125 million dollars
Bon Jovi raked in more when they inaugurated the New Jersey’s New Meadowlands Stadium with three consecutive sold out concerts last May and another in July.
The Band grossed US$200 playing 74 shows over the past 12 months and released a greatest hit album.
Elton John –100 million US dollars
Sir John has sold 250 million records worldwide over the past 30 years and isn’t slowing down, grossing US $204 million on 102 live shows in the past 12 months.
Lady Gaga – 90 million US dollars
The Queen Monster grossed US$ 170 on 137 shows in 22 countries over the past 12 months; though high production costs significantly reduced that sum.
Michael Buble – 70 million US dollars
The Canada crooner rode a lucrative concert tour, heavy radio play and strong album sales all the way to a spot among the most top 5 earners.
Paul McCartney – 67 million US dollars
The former Beatle could just sit back and collect checks – he’s the most commercially successful songwriter in the history of popular music – according to Guinness World Records – but the road beckons. McCartney grossed 130 million US dollars on a mere 30 shows over the past 12 months.
The Black Eyed Peas – 61 million US dollars
The business friendly rockers grossed US$68m on 62 shows around the World over the past 12 months and added to their coffers with lucrative endorsement deals with Samsung, Pepsi, Honda, Verizon, Chase and others.
The Eagle – 60 million US dollars
The ageless rockers continue to take it to the limit – especially on the road, where they make the bulk of their money.
Justin Bieber – 53 million US dollars
At age 17, Bieber is the youngest on the list, raking in cash from an international tour.
Dave Matthews Band – 51 million US dollars
The band grossed over a million per night for the course of 68 shows in the past 12 months.

Looking at the list, it is total disappointment that no African musician has made it to the least and this tells us a load of stories of either our musicians or the kind of audience that we have.

Turning back to Malawi, if you will go to classified pages in this title you will discover that there are beautiful pictures of both gospel and secular musicians that are on the road.

I tried to talk to Skeffa Chimoto and the Black Missionaries two weeks ago for a show that was to take place in September and I was told they are booked up for the year or something closer to that.

I am not sure how best our musicians organise their shows, but since we have no records to show how much they are raking into their ‘wealth-hold’ after every show I run the risk of speculating.

The question would then be: do we know that this particular musician is wealthier than the other by how frequent they appear in newspapers on a number of shows that they conduct?

We have been made to believe that those artists that make it big are the ones that do so through royalties.
COSOMA has at least made us believe our musicians are wealth and have managed to bring smiles on the faces of most artists through royalties.

But do we have anything on records to tell us how much the musicians are fairing when out on tours?

It takes time before COSOMA comes up with such list; the last one I saw was on December 29, 2009, where Lawrence Mbenjere set a new record when he became the first musician to cart home money in excess of over K2.5 million in royalties.

What was also historical was that since the establishment of the Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA), K2, 523, 459.16 that Mbenjere got was the biggest money it has dished out to a single musician.

And at the same event, Lucius Banda carted home K1, 094, 579.10, Thomas Chibade K712, 742.48. Joseph Nkasa who in 2003 got a million got K597, 942.27 this time round.

But at least Lucious and Black Missionaries and lately, Skeffa are the ones we see on the road all the time, are they the richest musicians on the Land?
Feedback: drummingpen@columnist.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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