How Do Musicians Spend their Money?

Do not be cheated, Malawian musicians have managed to hit gold through our very patronage when we buy their music and lately, they are making more money with live shows.

If you want to attend a musical show at Ozone for example, be ready to part ways with a thousand kwacha. If you are to attend a show at Mzuzu Hotel Boma Park, keep K800 in the pockets, because that’s what they will demand for you to pass through the gate.

A minimum of 1000 people most of the times would have passed through the gate, meaning K800, 000 would have been pocketed. If the fans are as many as 2000 which is a common feat when the show is either for The Blacks or Lucius Banda then the figures are in seven digits. 

Added to this, there are street sales of the album through compact cassettes or compact disks which is minus the musical DVD which when thrown into the fray and with good patronage, the money becomes so big to be true. 

Then there is also Mechanical, Public Performance and Broadcasting Royalties, which most of the times come as a surprise to musicians who end up buying cars and other useless expensive consumable items for they do not have any single idea what to do with their money.

Malawian musicians will always complain that the market is exploitative and this is the reason they cannot prosper. While this, to a large extent could be true, there is also one area that they do not talk about; this is where windfalls like manna avails itself for their taking. And this comes when you look at the way money comes in.

I think we can easily follow the musicians and find out how they manage their worth.

It reminds me of what happened on December 29, 2009, when 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.

I wrote about it then, and then as is the case today, my interest is not to discuss whether that was a vote of approval of what he is churning out by the consumers or there are other factors at play, but my interest would be; has he really benefited from this money? Has he managed it properly?

What was also historical was the fact that since the establishment of the Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA) 15 or 17 years ago at that time, K2, 523, 459.16 was the biggest money it ever dished out to a single musician.

It has not given out again since then, I should hope this year, COSOMA is supposed to pay the musicians.

At least in 2009 Lucious 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.

Mbenjere to get this kind of money, accumulatively he amassed K2.35 million from Mechanical Royalties that an artist receives after they record with a record company.

On the other hand, K103, 000 Mbenjere earned from broadcasting royalties that comes from air play of an artist’s music by a radio or TV station. He also amassed a meagre K66, 000 from Public Performance Royalties unbelievably, this is the money that is earned when the artist’s music is played in public places like bars, hotels etc.

While I still doubt COSOMA’s capacity to ably manage the collection of money from all public places where music is played as no COSOMA official ever visits most bars and such places, I wonder how this is done.

 I still want to know how musicians, whose music is played there, ever profit from such ongoing.

There is no way; a bill for institutions like radio can beat that of public places. This is what I find sticky with the management of the Public Performance Royalties.

This is also not to mention the poor remittance on Broadcasting Royalties, by such shameless institutions like MBC.

My contention today is not about MBC, it is about the management aspect of these little resources that our musicians accrue.

At least Lucius Banda has numerous business establishments including Summit Cultural Centre in the Capital Lilongwe and Zembani Lodge and a music company with the same name.

Likewise, Mbenjere Music and Video Production companies at least have their works sprouting about, meaning this is an investment of some kind.

I am yet to find out how Joseph Nkasa or Thomas Chibade has invested their resources.

The Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Culture, which is supposed to be looking after the musicians, is doing little to change the status quo to egg on the investing mentality in our musicians. I remember director of culture in the ministry, Bernard Kwilimbe, himself a reputable musician, said at one time that there is a ignorance on the part of musicians as they not know that this is a calling that goes with proper planning. Planning comes from proper management, no?

While there is this knowledge by government, there is nothing that it has so far done to help improve the situation on the ground; one way to achieve this is to conduct several clinics within the year to equip musicians with music management.


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