Musicians want paradigm shift in local music

AS Zimbabwe enters an uncharted social and political dispensation following the establishment of the Government of National Unity, artists in the diaspora who spoke to Independent Extra expressed optimism that this new era will offer a clean slate for the modus operandi of the music industry.

Particular emphasis was placed on the need for the new government to deal decisively with the issue of piracy and to ensure that artists are not short-changed in terms of royalties.

Enoch “Nox” Guni — an award winning urban grooves artist now based in South Africa told Independent Extra he believes the Copyright Act is not stringent enough and does not adequately specify the cases where copyright infringement occurs.

Gorden Taurai Nzira, another South-African based gospel vocalist, suggests that Zimbabwe must follow the course the South African government took to deal with piracy in which it established an anti-piracy unit made up of highly regarded police officers to enforce anti-piracy laws and investigate related cases.

“I hope that our own industry gets this kind of support from the government because I have seen copies of pirated Zimbabwean music here in Cape Town sold on the streets.”

Gorden said Life Assurance Companies in South Africa are designing pension, medical and Life Assurance products to cater for the needs of musicians and other artists.

“This is a very welcome development for musicians here because these benefits can now be easily included in the artists’ contracts.”

Nathan Jera, a gospel musician who emigrated to the United Kingdom, laments that musicians in Zimbabwe have to struggle on their own to get to the top.

“It also depends on who you know in the music distribution industry. DJs in Zimbabwe do not promote music in a way they are supposed to.

Instead they segregate musicians and at times solicit for bribes. A lot of talent is put to waste as good musicians have been left out in the cold.

I feel that the music industry should have a complete paradigm shift and take people who are professional, who have degrees in music to run the show.”

Nox contends that whilst there was a political motive behind the move to impose the 75% local
content policy by the then Information and Publicity Minister Jonathan Moyo, the idea was noble in that it helped develop the “economic stamina” of the artists to fund themselves.]

“I still think that it could work because of the new hope that has been presented to us by the GNU.”

He added that what is now required is a complete transformation of how Zimbabweans view local music.

“I have been watching closely the industry in South Africa and honestly speaking, Zimbabwe has more talent. But it’s the support that the artists here get which makes them stand out amongst others in the region.

“Of course their market is way bigger than ours, and so is their economy, but with the right strategies, and the right mentality, we can get there.”

According to Gorden local productions still have some way to go before they can compete effectively as they need to improve. “This can be done if we acquire modern recording equipment and our engineers get more training at colleges.”

BY NGONI MUZOFA