Godwin Muzari Showbiz Mirror
The Government’s intention to licence 25 radio stations across the country within the next two months could indicate a bright future for local musicians. Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Secretary George Charamba recently announced the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe was in the process of short-listing applicants.
Although musicians would generally be happy that the opening of airwaves gives them more space for airplay that popularises their songs, they should be more excited about the prospects of such a development in terms of royalties.
For a long time musicians were short-changed by Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation that struggled to honour its obligation of paying royalties to musicians.
Zimbabwe Music Rights Association was always at loggerheads with ZBC and their fight over royalties spilled to the courts.
So disheartening was the situation that Zimura director talked about how musicians would come to their offices inquiring about the royalties.
Some of the musicians would be desperate and would at times plead with the association to give them any amount.
Some of them would ask for bus fare to return home after being told ZBC was still to remit royalties.
Last year, Zimura had to use funds from their license fee collections to bail out musicians.
The situation was bad. Although musicians get royalties once a year, they value that income so much.
Airplay royalties are now the only other major source of income for most musicians besides live shows since piracy has eroded music sales royalties.
Very few musicians in the country get contracts for commercial advertisements.
The majority of musicians depend on shows and very few can pull the crowds needed to have income for a decent living.
Musicians like Taruvinga “Sugar Sugar” Manjokota, Gift “Case” Amuli still have good songs that are played on radio yet they are finding the going tough in live shows.
It is now hard for them to attract fans to their shows. Such musicians would keep attentive to any news involving airplay royalties..
They know they can get something for the works they did long back.
Even Steve “Dhongi” Makoni who was the highest paid musician on the list of last year’s royalties said he got reprieve from his debts after getting royalties.
From the few shows that he staged over the year, Makoni could not pay the debts and Zimura came to his rescue.
Towards the end of last year, musicians received the good news that Zimura had sealed deals with Star FM and ZiFM Stereo for the stations to pay royalties.
When the stations honour their promises, musicians will be smiling all the way to Zimura offices in June.
Now that more radio stations are on their way, the future looks brighter for musicians.
Even if half of the proposed stations pay royalties, most musicians will be saved from their miserable lifestyles.
The majority of musicians in the country are suffering. Instead of making money out of music, the art has exposed them.
Theirs is a case of suffering celebrities.
Music has made them famous and very few have something to show for it.
A situation when musicians would collect royalties from more than 20 stations is every artiste’s dream.
For the past couple of years, the rates for airplay royalties have ranged from between US$3 to US$5 for every slot a song gets on air.
For musicians that make hits, it would be possible to have a song played for more than 20 times a day considering that some songs are played more than once a day on a single station.
Calculations here should indicate that in a whole year, even a song that gets average airplay can earn its creator a handsome income.
Those artistes that can come up with about three hits per album and others that have numerous previous hits might be telling exciting stories in the next year or two.
Musicians should be eagerly awaiting the new stations.
If everything is done according to plan and procedures for royalties are followed, lives will change for the better for our musicians.