In Malawi, recording artists and music industry players are still doing too little as far as music branding is concerned.

Branding is key if the local urban music industry is to explode in the way that it competes with industries in other African countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Zambia and Botswana.

Very few recording artists are fit to be called brands. These may include, Fredokiss, Patience Namadingo, Tay Grin and Theo Thompson, only to mention a few.

For a musician to become a brand there has to be a lot of investment.

“A brand requires a lot of investment, for people to trust an idea or image, for example Jordan’s, the name itself draws attention because of the person it represents but look at it plainly it’s just a pair of Nikes,” Kenny Klips said.

As a basketball fanatic, Klips explained branding by illustrating that Jordan’s are just Nikes only that the former represents a big name, billionaire athlete, movie actor and investor Michael B. Jordan.

To put it all into perspective, when people hear the name Patience Namadingo, what comes in their minds is some nice acoustic music fused with tradition.

The song ‘Msati Mseke’ (probably Namadingo’s most successful hit record judging by its views on YouTube), for instance, is acoustic fused with a touch of traditional dance ‘mganda’.

Namadingo’s management team invested a lot (and is still investing) in their artist so keeps growing as a brand.

Ecobank and DSTV (where the artist is brand ambassador) wouldn’t have entered into endorsement contract with a musician that isn’t serious with their career. Branding requires seriousness to some extent.

Kenny Klips

Klips also added that, in other words, branding is all about making an artist virtually powerful.

He said “To command that power requires a serious financial backing which our economy does not have.”

Asked to comment on lack of proper distribution channels being a factor holding back the industry’s growth, the pioneer rapper lamented the disappearance of music distributor OG Issa being a big blow to the ailing industry.

“The distribution of music to the consumer disappeared with OG Issa and the new distribution avenue of the product hasn’t been accepted by the consumer, so the producer of the product still strives his/her best to keep entertaining the consumer.”

He added: “The new avenue (of selling music) has been there, our site www.malawi-music.com has been distributing music ever since, through mobile money and online banking services but the consumer hasn’t caught up with this new avenue.”

For artists to start selling on online music stores, they first have to put their stuff in order. They have to do aggressive marketing and branding.

Elsewhere, musicians are making a killing from iTunes and Spotify.

And on this, Kenny Klips had this to say: “For you (artist) to sell on international platforms you need to have international fan base and requires international reach of which not too many artists don’t have, so who will buy their music if they are not known? But here there are household names.”

He continued that they (local musicians) can only sell music locally in the meantime. It’s in the country where there is a market so they don’t have to rush [to iTunes].

Kenny Klips has been in the rap game for more than a decade.

He’s been featured before by rap gurus like Hyphen and The Daredevils and is partner at Malawi’s biggest music downloading and streaming website www.malawi-music.com

Source : NyasaShowBiz

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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