By Howard Mlozi, contributor:
Some musicians in the country have called on DJs and media houses to give local music 70 percent airplay as part of uplifting the music industry.
The call follows debate on social media recently, which was sparked by renowned youthful gospel musician Shammah Vocals.
The ‘No Reverse’ maker posted a question on his social media page asking as to why DJs in radio stations, weddings, entertainment outlets and players in television stations prefer playing foreign songs at the expense of local music.
The artist observed that DJs have an obsession of foreign music.
Shammah’s question attracted mixed views from people with a majority attacking the country’s systems which fail to protect and empower local artists.
“The problem is not the DJs but the systems that do not prioritise and promote local products fully. We have the Buy Malawi Strategy, but it seems to be biased towards foodstuffs and clothing only.
“We need government to step in full force in order to give directives on how local music should be treated,” Kifram Banda, a Lilongwe-based music fan, said.
Another fan Jay Mpha said DJs were not to blame because they only play songs that excite listeners.
Mpha said most of the hit songs that are given airplay are done by foreign musicians from countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
However, Inkosi MacPherson Nchessie blamed the tendency of copying foreign music styles by many local artists as a setback.
“Local artists are to blame for poor promotion of local music. They are fond of copying other country’s music styles. So, which serious DJ can choose to play a stolen song over the original one? The issue is quality and originality,” Nchessie said.
He said until local artists become original and interesting, their music will be enjoyed by everyone everywhere.
Recently Nigerian musician Mr P, formerly of award-winning group P Square, called upon Malawians to support their own by embracing their music.
Creatives in the country have called on the government to fasten the establishment of Arts Council which, among other things, will be mandated to regulate the promotion of local content, which is key to contributing to artists’ welfare through royalties.
However, a manager at one of the private media houses, who did not want to be named, said the government should level the business playing field in order to achieve a fair promotion of local content on radio and television.
“This is a welcome development to set or give a highest percentage of airtime to local content. But, at the end of the day, this translates into royalties to be paid to artists through Copyright Society of Malawi.
“So, the government should start giving business to private media houses just like it does to the State broadcaster so that they can also have an economic muscle to pay royalties to artists,” the manager said.