Malawi Music failing Television


The question that is sometimes posed is whether or not music and television relate in any way. Television is the place where one can watch readymade music videos or watch live performances of musicians.
One other major characteristic of music videos is that it gives an opportunity to showcase dancers.
In Malawi, musicians have only started getting acceptance now, unlike in the past when parents would not encourage their sons and daughters to venture into music as it was regarded wayward.
There was just a bad name linked to anyone doing music although ironically they would cherish the art of listening to music and enjoying it as it were.
Now, while musicians were looked at with disdain, dancers were regarded as the worst kind of people. Everyone else dancing in different places, except, of course Kamuzu Mbumba and all other performers at such events were regarded as outcasts.
The coming in of television helped the society to appreciate that dancing to music or performing as a dancer is another form of art that deserved appreciation and respect and not disparagement.
Now if you look at music videos Malawi is churning out per given time, you are left with nothing but helplessness because the system to allow such music see the light of the day is so restrictive.
The sole, so called public broadcaster has left powers in a few individuals who would always want to get a little something every other time musicians want to provide their music to them.
Malawi always complains that her music is not breaking the international market and therefore it is not bringing money on the table.
There are of course many marketing and distribution aspects that Malawi musicians do not know how to handle.
Most international musicians would send press kits to local media, radio stations, television stations, venue managers, record labels and studio executives in order to either create or increase their visibility.
Now, coupled with lack of knowledge to market and distribute our music, Malawi music has no enough media channels that it can use to sell her musicians.
Programmes that are musical in nature are not enough to contain the production that is ongoing at the moment.
The point at which we have reached as a country is that we at least need a television station that will solely be dealing with music or better still we need more television stations that equally and ably deal with entertainment.
This is why to an extent lack of provision by the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) to give out television licences to those interested to run them is not only hurting the intended targets, but it is making our music industry suffer as well.
In other countries, television showing of latest music videos boost its patronisation as it has a lot of people buying the copies or even enquiring how best they can achieve more, as it elicit revs from different experts.
We have different private firms where we are getting both quality and mediocre production of music videos. Without any set of standards or criteria we get music that is beamed on the television which leaves you with a bad aftertaste.
You are always ashamed of the person performing because you realise that for such run of the mill production to chance airtime it has passed through a number of hands. It does so much damage to the aptitude of those working for the television station.
Government through MACRA has therefore tremendously contributed to the poor quality of music video production in the country.
Because there is a single television station the problem is in two folds; one problem is that the television will beam anything provided such mediocre player has palm greased the one in control.
The second fold is that those behind such productions will do anything in disregard to quality because they know whatever they produce will come out, nonetheless, because it is not about quality but bribery.
This leaves no room for completion because a healthy competition breeds innovation and creativity. Are you surprised therefore that even when our music is struggling to break even on the international scene, our music videos are a notch so low that one can not dare show them to foreign audience?
Is this how we want to grow our music? Do you now understand how irritated I become when you complain that our music cannot sell outside Malawi?
Feedback:drummingpen@columnist.com

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