In Zimbabwe music production or better still the music industry is not taken seriously and lacks professionalism. It is characterized by people who usually get into the business solely for money.
Producers in the music industry are the ones whose job is to oversee and manage the recording of artist music. Producers also control the recording sessions, coaching, and guiding musician. They are also the unsung heroes behind the scenes of many hit songs.
Producers are inspired by various things to enter into the music production,
‘I was pushed into music production because I have always wanted to create things from scratch.
This is actually the biggest push factor that drives producers into music’, said Royal Chatendeuka a hip hop and RnB producer of Royal Prince Beats.
What differs now is that most producers will specialize and chose a genre that they become good at.
Tman Chirenje aka Mt Zion the producer behind the hit maker Hit maker of Mawayawaya by Shinsoman, Godo by Stunner, Ndashamisika by Trevor Dongo, and NaMwari by Maskiri highlighted that most of the producers are self taught. This has had a negative impact on the quality of music produced and eventually results in low subscribers and few radio air-plays; this in all fails the industry.
Piracy also poses a great threat in the Zimbabwean music industry. While many artists are against it, a few dance-hall artists ironically do not mind it. They claim that it helps to promote their music through various social media.
During an interview with the ZimSentinel, Valentine Shumba aka Blinx an upcoming producer who has worked with the likes of Lady Squanda, Killer T and Metaphysics and now based in Germany said,’ for the dance-hall artists piracy is a blessing as it has resulted in their songs circulating all over social media, thereby expanding their fan base.
However Mt Zion disputed the claims saying ‘piracy is failing Zim-dancehall artists to have money, money is more important as it enhances the livelihoods of people’.
Mt Zion is of the view that there is no money in the music industry, ‘if I was in America I would be rated at least in the top 5 list of best music producers, now I only make enough money to survive. There is no extra cash for luxurious things.
“ People now hardly purchase the original albums from artists, they opt for cheaper discs that are being sold for 5 rand for 2 this has brought set back in the Zimbabwean music industry” said Tman.
“Music production is indeed profitable considering the work you put into it. It becomes easier with increases in knowledge” alleged Royal Prince, this means that those who are into music need to invest in themselves first before they want people to invest into them.
He also went on to say “I believe in the Zim Hip-hop it is mostly the producers who are getting the money as there are many hip hop artists in need of beats.
Mt Zion and Blinx incited that most artists are surviving on live shows that they host as music sales have dropped drastically.
Artists are also no longer taking their music to Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (ZIMURA).
Last year Trevor Dongo went to ZIMURA and was told that his songs was only played 3 times on Power FM. The truth of the matter is that the song actually played for almost the whole year and should have resulted in more money for the musician.
Mt Zion applauded the Ministry of Information and Publicity for 75 % local content policy for both radio and television for this seeks to promote local talent.
Mt Zion urged producers to be creative so that their records will be appreciated and stay for the coming generations, “if we aim for quality our future will be bright”.
“Producers are not united, everyone want to be on top, currently there is no committee for producers ,a committee was once formed to plan about how to run contracts, the meetings which took place in the Africa Unity Square saw a few producers attending, ” narrated Tman
In Zim-dancehall, more than four songs are produced in a week which is too much for the listeners. It has led to increases in competition for listeners and poor quality music,
“Some underground producers charge as little as $5 or $10 per production instead of the reasonable fee of 300 to 500 dollars” said Blinx
A number of artists prefer cheap producers to experienced ones thus undermining the duty of the producer and tainting the music industry with poor quality songs. Zimbabwean producers must be serious and agree on one reasonable fee, not rushing to make quick money.
Blinx went on to say that most producers are just producing music for the artists for the sake of money, without minding whether the artist is vocally gifted or not. , ‘we just produce stuff that’s equivalent to the money we get, it’s all about survival’
Royal concluded saying “we should have professional producers, professional sound engineers and music writers”.