I believe that i am somewhat of an authority on the topic of Zimdancehall. Primarily because i have been part and parcel of this movement since 2005 to present. I have seen many great artistes rising and i have also witnessed their unfortunate demise. Fortunately or unfortunately, my involvement in Zimdancehall has slightly shifted from my initial involvement.
Initially i was a recording artist from 2005-2013. From 2011-present i became a producer and from 2013-present i became a video director and editor. However, the main reason i stopped recording was because of my demanding academic pursuits. I had to concentrate on my undergraduate degree. However, i take this as a major step in my career. Now i have attained the pre-requisite skills needed by artistes to succeed. Forget the juju, they are many orthodoxy ways to marketing yourself. It my intention to proffer the solution.
First and foremost every artiste needs management. I recall Mr Hillary Mutake a music promoter telling Tocky that “as an artiste you are a company. You need a team to work with…” this was at the sidelines of the inaugural Zimdancehall awards in March 2014. That is the starting point. Management in this vein is not simply designating a managerial role to a guy who handles your show bookings et cetera, who in most cases is your relative or friend.
Let me use an illustration to aid you in understanding this concept. Take a huge firm lets say Econet. Every department has a manager. Finance department, public relations and marketing, legal et cetera. A person is employed based on the specific skills that he or she possesses. Also, employment is based on merit, that is to say a person is employed for his or her skills not based on his or her relationship with the employer. You don’t simply employ someone because he is your friend or relative even if they lack the relevant skills.
Now as an artiste you too can operate on such a model. Instead of having a single manager, find a team based on their expertise.Find someone to handle your public relations. Someone who speaks on your behalf to the press or to the fans.Preferable someone with a good English proficiency.It is this person who will convey even your deep seated thoughts to the world. As an artiste you do not have to always do your own PR. A PR works as your ‘lawyer’ in the court of public opinion. I have seen some artistes demeaning themselves on social networks in an attempt to play the PR role.
As an artiste find someone to handle your accounts and advice you in money matters. Ever heard of MC Hammer? He is an American Rapper whose story can be summarised as ‘from-rags-to-riches’ then back to rags. He became rich and he never had someone to handle his finances. In his extravagance, he had a 500 man entourage which he paid $500 00/month! He built a $30 million mansion. He had 21 racing horse whose price range was $1million – $250 00. In 5years he had spent $70MILLION! He became bankrupt. To avoid all this invest in assets not liabilities.Invest in assets that bring long term value. Anything that brings you more income is an asset. Don’t invest too much in liabilities like cars or boats.
You need to market and distribute your music. You need a team of people dedicated to that. Nowadays, with the advent of the internet music distribution is now easier, faster and more effective. Artistes are now using platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp et cetera to market their art. As an artiste you do not have to do that on your own, believe me its hectic. They are people good at that, engage their services.
Correct me if I am wrong, but i strongly believe that every musician wants to be known world wide. How can you penetrate the international music scene?Is it possible?Then why not engage people who know how its done?Oliver Mutukudzi worked with Debby Meltcafe, she helped him gain global recognition. You also need people who spread your music beyond geographical borders.
Negative publicity produces negative effects.
Most young artistes think controversy is the best marketing strategy. Maybe it is, but the question is who are you marketing yourself to and for what benefit? You may sing vulgar, you may impregnate a dozen of girls, you may fight in public and remain in the press.However, such type of publicity seeking has adverse effects. Artistes make money from endorsement deals. For example a big company may want you to be the face of their products and pay you handsomely. Would they engage your services if you always sing about “bronco”? I doubt. That is why some artistes are well known but they remain poor for the rest of their careers. People criticized Winky D for the “Mafira Kureva” song in which he denounced drug abuse. Even though he used to sing about marijuana during the inception of his career, his lyrics have morphed and he now sings maturely. That is a marketing strategy for you! Continue smoking weed, continue drug abuse well its your life but please do not sing about it or brag about it in the press!
Apperance is everything
“What you are speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson
Research shows that more than half of all human communication takes place nonverbally. When you speak before a group, your listeners base their judgment of you and your message on what they see as well as upon what they hear.
Do not dress shabbily! Dress smartliy. I give credit to Qounfuzed for being one of the most well dressed artiste.Freeman, Winky D et cetera are experts in that field too. In music , books are judged by their covers. You may go hungry for a week but as long as we see you well dressed we will always view you as our ‘hero’ our celeb. Apperarances are everything in this industry. Work on your dressing. Maybe related to that, avoid being seen in public everytime. You must remain a mysterious figure, let people spread rumours about you, well thats what makes a legend-speculations! However if you happen to meet people talk to them nicely.
Well this is just the starting point. A good artiste knows how to adapt to the ever changing dynamics in the music industry. Gone are the days when dancehall was about toasting with a horse voice. Nowadays the genre is more lyrically oriented than before. Adapt to different stlyes. Beenie man started recording way back when he was around 7years old and upto now he is still a force to reckon with. In Zimdancehall we have forgoten about those artistes we used to listen to last year. Your approach to music determines whether it is bublegum or not whether you are a one hit wonder or a none hit wonder. Its good to be busy but its good for you to be in Business.
By Tirivashe “Ras Tiraz” Chikumbirike