Music promoter-cum-musician Brian Samaita says the future of local music in Zimbabwe is on the verge of collapse due to a plethora of challenges, chief being the paltry royalties offered by radio stations.
By Moses Mugugunyeki
In a recent interview with Standardstyle, the Murondatsimba Express front man said there were many challenges that have not been addressed in the industry since independence. He said this was the reason why Zimbabwe was playing second fiddle to other African countries like Zambia, South Africa and Nigeria.
“Take for instance some of our radio stations are paying 20 cents in royalties for a song played on their station. In the past it was $5, but today we are getting as little as 20 cents,” he said.
He took a swipe at the industry’s “powers that be” for allowing musicians to be exploited left, right and centre.
“If we operate in such a way, I don’t see new players coming in the music industry. It is expensive to record an album and out of it you get peanuts,” said the Mutare-based singer.
“New guys cannot go in the studios and record because they cannot afford. It is only the ‘big’ guys who can visit the studios and record. This is killing the industry,” he added.
Samaita, whose songs are receiving fair airplay locally and in Mozambique believes the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe is doing nothing to promote upcoming musicians.
“There is latent music talent in the country, but the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe is failing to expose and nurture that talent. There are so many upcoming music groups whose talents have gone to waste because they have failed to record,” he said.
Samaita released his third five-track album titled Tsono early this year, which is doing very well. Songs on the album are Dzinza Rake, Sando Dzangu, Kabasa, Tinosvika Chete and Simon Zuze.
“The album is doing well in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. I will soon tour the country and prove to fans that Sungura music is here to stay. I know many people out there want to have a taste of our live music shows and this is what we are going to do soon,” he said.
Samaita has two more albums — Nemiwo Munazvo and Murodzi Wepfungwa — which were well-received.
“My songs touch on social issues, among them love, marriage and family,” he said.
Samaita was born and grew up in Chinhoyi, where he did his primary and secondary education. He did a course in engineering and worked for a transport firm in Chinhoyi, before he was transferred by the company to Mutare.
“In Mutare, I met Spencer Kumulani now with Utakataka Express who later introduced me to Somandla Ndebele. I was so in love with Barura music, so Soma took me to Tongai Moyo who at that time was playing some kind of Barura music,” said Samaita.
“We became friends with ‘Dhewa’ and he supported me as I embarked on my solo career. I also supported him as a promoter until his death in 2012. I managed to release my first album Nemiwo Munazvo in 2012 and it did very well on radio stations. Soma did the backing vocals on all the songs on the album.”
Samaita who of late has been performing at weddings and corporate functions in Manicaland said piracy was also killing the music industry.