With the digital era fast taking root, Malawi has also witnessed its music industry quickly shifting from analogue to digital platforms. Everywhere you look, you’re bound to see artists utilizing digital instruments to produce their music while the same goes for storage of what they produce; flash discs, memory cards and phones have certainly made things easier.
It is therefore not surprising to see those handling multiple tasks through one-man sound counsel and a single musician doing production all by himself being greatly admired. The same goes for radio deejays, some of whom are doing a lot to push up and coming artists who are also trying to ride on the digital wave.
From genres such as Reggae to dancehall, R ‘n’ B to Hip Hop and Afro Pop; a lot artists have taken advantage of the digital advancement to establish a name for themselves.
While things are working out for others, it is still a tall order for some.
Take for instance, Zomba-based Captain Chigwe, who has tried different ways to penetrate the music industry with little success.
Having tested the music terrain between 2013 and 2020, Chigwe feels he has done his best and now needs to rest.
“I have temporarily suspended my music endeavours. I need to work on a different tune of life. This, I think, will help me before I give music another chance,” he said.
He is adamant that only those with a lot of money at their disposal easily penetrate the music industry.
“It’s different from the early 2000 and late 90s when the media industry was just growing. I have seen people who were not well-to-do but they made rounds in music circles. Not nowadays, life is tough in music. I could have been very far by now,” he said.
But unlike Chigwe who has decided to lay off music for now, some up-and-coming artists keep on pushing in the industry.
One of them is Taurai Hau, a Mangochi based female artist, who has done a number of tracks.
Recently, Taurai worked with established artist Piksy on a track titled ‘Kungolo’ which was released on April 9, 2022.
In an interview, Taurai said ‘Kungolo’ is a story about a female lover who appreciates the love shown to her by her partner.
“Due to such care from her man, the woman swears to commit herself to the relationship. Basically, the song title is based on an adage ‘Zayang’ana Kungolo’ which is used to describe a troubled situation,” she said.
Taurai, who has previously collaborated with artists such as Nepman, said she decided to feature Piksy upon considering the theme of the song.
“Most of Piksy’s songs like Kameneka, Chindimalize, Unamata and Appetiser have themes similar to Kungolo hence my decision to collaborate with him,” She said.
People have been able to access easily Kungolo on almost all reputable online platforms, thanks to digital advancement.
But Taurai agreed with Chigwe that there are a number of setbacks that pull them down whenever they would want to penetrate the industry.
“For example, you release a song like this but many people still do not download. They never appreciate other people’s talents. They undermine up and coming artists,” she said.
She also pointed out that only a few number of radio personalities have the passion and desire to work with up and coming artists.
Dingalizwe Ngaiyaye, a Lilongwe based up and coming artist, echoed Taurai’s sentiments that in a way, lack of support from radio personalities affects their penetration.
“It takes few individuals to recognise talent and push you up. I think radios in Malawi should recognise local talent. At least 85 percent of their content should be Malawian songs, 5 percent should be from overseas and 10 percent from Africa,” he said.
Another Lilongwe based artist, Gospel musician Vincent Kadzakumanja, had a whole different perspective as he urged local artists to strive towards improving the quality of their work.
“Apart from the fact that we have different music backgrounds, I think it’s high time we improved the quality of work on our files. There are a number of things we have to look into when coming up with a project,” he said.
He said when an artist is working on a song, he or she has to think of his audience first and then message, before concentrating on beat and rhythm.
“People nowadays are up for message, is it touching or relating to events happening in our nation? We would need to think about these two, audience and message before anything. Otherwise there is more talent out there,” he said.
Collaboration is also crucial in music production, according to Kadzakumanja, as artists have different talents that, if they work together, can take them to another level.
Kadzakumanja himself recently featured Amapiano star, Avokado and two others in his new track titled ‘Mundikumbukire’.
He said the track happens to be one of the steps in advancing his career as he keeps on trying to make his breakthrough in music.
“I want to be on another level. I have done different tracks, relased singles and albums but this time i though I could team up with fellow artists for a breakthrough,” he said.
No doubt the music industry landscape keeps evolving with the changing times, not to mention the digital transformation. It will take those who are hardworking and dedicated to the trade to make a major breakthrough, while those who want quick fortune and fame will be left by the wayside.
They say if at first you do not succeed, you better try again.