Top-earning African musicians

The emergence of new media has helped proliferate the work of content creators in the last generation. Musicians fall into this category. New media is a pivotal element in the growth of musicians’ profiles. The internet has helped content producers to traverse regions and cross terrestrial borders.

By Admire Kudita

Digital satellite television has been instrumental in this regard as entities such as Netflix, MultiChoice and Kwesé-iFlix are helping the work of content creators to reach audiences in areas where it was previously unthinkable.

A decoder and a satellite dish have become as critical to modern urban living as the transistor radio once was. In the process, media stars are being churned out by the entertainment industry which is the biggest beneficiary of the technological change.

Forbes magazine and other publications have over time released a list of top earning musicians in Africa.Their evaluations are based on a number of objective and subjective measurements which involve factors such as “endorsement value, popularity, show rates, sales, awards, YouTube views, appearance in newspapers, investment, social media presence, influence and others.”

Top of the pile is Senegalese artiste and music entrepreneur Akon. His reported net worth stands at US$80 million. According to Soundscan, he has sold over 35 million albums globally and bagged a number of accolades. Though born Aliaune Thiam to immigrant Senegalese parents in Missouri, United States, Akon shuttled between the two African and American continents in his early days. He has retained contact with his ancestral homeland and has a couple of solar energy business projects on the continent.

The second in line is Rebecca Malope who has long enjoyed the mantle of queen of gospel music. Rebecca is peerless for having been a gospel music purveyor was in vogue. She has reportedly sold 10 million albums in South Africa to date and released over 35 albums, with most of them attaining platinum and gold status. She is a formidable and highly bankable entertainment industry brand who commands television and radio attention. She is reportedly worth US$5 million.

The third position is a toss up between Oskido, Tuku and Black Coffee depending on which publication one is using for reference.

Some will place Nkosinathi Maphumulo who trades as Black Coffee ahead of the other two.The music producer and disc jockey has thrived on the strength of his dee jaying prowess and quite possibly the popularity of dance music and club culture in places such as Ibiza in Spain and Miami, Florida. He commands hefty appearance fees.

He reportedly charges over US$30 000 per gig aside from his technical rider as a star performer. He is said to be worth US$2 million alongside Oskido who is a Bulawayo-raised music industry don. Tuku’s net worth is hard to establish though he somehow finds his name on the Forbes list.

Nigerians such as Don Jazzy, WizKid and Davido all feature in most of the top 10 lists. If one takes the account of South African industry watchers, however, Aka the hip-hop artiste appears to top them all with a reported networth of US$11 million. His portfolio is said to be enhanced by corporate endorsement deals. He is an international music star.

Zimbabwean musicians must scale their operations and break the sound and language barrier. The current crop of youthful musicians must understand that monetising their craft is largely a product of their ability to command large audiences.

The current pre-occupation with performing for Zimbabweans in the diaspora is self-sabotaging because it creates a false sense of success. The real money is in conquering not just fellow Zimbabweans, but in winning over the potential billion-strong African market before they take on the world. What is their excuse when technology has helped to level the playing field?

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