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Music rating a contentious issue

Rating arts products, especially music, has been a bone of contention for a long time globally.

Drum Beat with Godwin Muzari

Whenever music charts or awards, which are not based on unit sales or a clear voting format, are structured, debates erupt.

Because of different audience tastes and varying popularity of music styles, music critics can be at loggerheads when rating music.

The major question: Who should rate music?

A recent music chart show on a new radio station was a case in point in relation to this issue. While presenting their daily charts one morning, the DJs mocked one song that had been suggested for the charts.

They concurred that the song would never make it onto their Top 10 songs list because it was mediocre.

A listener had suggested the song but the DJs had the final say. So, who should rate the songs? Should listeners’ tastes not be considered because presenters have negative perceptions towards a song?

For a long time, local radio stations came up with charts daily and weekly without involving listeners in selecting music.

We had Top 20 and Top 10 charts on different radio stations but the way of rating music remained a secret. These stations would only invite votes for end of year music charts.

There have been concerns that presenters manipulate music charts to suit their tastes or serve personal relations with musicians.
Of course, DJs vehemently deny these accusations but when pathetic songs make it to the top of music charts while good tracks are left out, questions will always be raised.

What the presenters mentioned above did was to openly influence the structure of their charts when listeners should participate in choosing their favourite songs.

Even when audiences are asked to vote for the songs, via various means, it seems the power to determine the final lists is vested in unseen forces that are prone to manipulation.

Unfortunately, the trend is not only tantamount to a business entity’s failure to respect its clients but it also discourages creativity.

When artists, like the one in this case, get embarrassed on a national radio station their confidence suffers a knock.
Instead of celebrating creativity and realising that music is not only about fitting into prescribed boundaries, some presenters are ruthlessly massacring talent to the detriment of the music industry at large.

So, how should an upcoming musician feel when humiliated on national radio?

Rating music might differ depending on varying policies at our broadcasters but presenters should try to be professional and avoid demeaning musicians openly. If anything, they should inspire musicians and reward good products with due recognition.

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