Jive Zimbabwe is a local initiative that thrives to enhance local music consumption in Zimbabwe and beyond that was founded on October 25 2012, which is also the International Arts Day. The company is registered under the Zimbabwe Companies Act [Chapter 24:03] with its core business being to promote and distribute local art products and services.
By Benjamin Nyandoro
Last Tuesday marked four years since the birth of Jive Zimbabwe and in this article; I look at the road that we travelled since our existence.
Founding event at Kebab Centre
We organised a one-week-long (October 19 to 25) launch at Kebab Centre, which featured Sulumani Chimbetu, Mannex Motsi, Judgement Yard, Jah Prayzah, Munya Mataruse, Dembo Brothers, Talking Guitars, Urban Grooves nite (Stunner, Ex-Q, Trevor, Cindy, Ba Shupi, Leonard Mapfumo, etc) and Peter Moyo. It turned out to be a baptism of fire since it was a loss and it took us time to recover from it. However, many thanks to Jah Prayzah who asked me not to pay him and Chimbetu, who donated the PA system for the launch.
How it all begun
Jive Zimbabwe was inspired by a gig that I attended in 2009 where Chimbetu was performing at Lion King. I asked to meet him, introduced myself and told him that I could do more. Since then, I started working with him and other artists joined in on a friend-helping-a-friend basis.
In 2012, I then said I could do more for more artists and sustainably, because all this time since 2009, I was just doing it for fun not making any revenue, thus the model was not sustainable if I was to assist even more artists. I ended up hosting more than 10 websites for artists that included paying for hosting and managing content.
Maiden album launch
In December 2012, Jive Zimbabwe hosted the Jean Masters album launch at Jazz 105. Jive Zimbabwe does things differently and cares about quality of products. We printed 2 000 copies of a 10-page CD booklet with lyrics of Jean Masters’s Misi Haifanane album. It was another loss on our part, but it was a learning curve. However, Jean Masters appreciated the effort.
Jive Zimbabwe focused on developing technologies that help promote local arts. We built a robust website with Webdev, an investment that was to the tune of $5 000. In August 2014, at Jameson Hotel, Jive Zimbabwe launched an online music store that allowed artists to create a login interface upload music and monitor downloads. The online store responded to everyday concerns that artists do not have an account of numbers of CDs or music downloaded. The launch was attended by Jah Prayzah and Soul Jah Love, among other artists. After the huge investment, there was no traction on downloads. Probably our market is not yet ready or not well-exposed to transacting online.
In response, Jive Zimbabwe recently signed a content distribution agreement with access to more than 10 territories. Signed up artists will have their music streamed and downloaded for a fee. This initiative will see artists getting revenue from their work, even outside holding any gigs.
Another attempt by Jive Zimbabwe was to host gigs without printing a single poster. We hosted seven concerts at the Book Café in 2015, from January to July, monthly, with Victor Kunonga, Mokoomba, Cynthia Mare, Africa Revenge, Tariro neGitare, Munya Mataruse and Mbira DzeNharira versus Maungira ENharira. However, Book Café closed doors. The gigs received relatively high numbers, with Mokoomba recording the highest.
The ‘famous’ October 2 concert
It goes without saying the October 2 concert dubbed Celebrate Local that was held at the Harare International Conference Centre, which reminded us of the 2012 launch which turned out to be disastrous. It didn’t come out right. Numbers were low. We felt the loss; it was huge and heavy to stomach. We, however, took many lessons from the concert and very useful in our planning for concerts that we hold.
In January 2016, Jive Zimbabwe decided not to hold concerts, but offer event management services to artists and promoters. The decision came after considerations that once Jive Zimbabwe started offering event management, offering such services to promoters and also hosting its own events may amount to conflict. To date, Jive Zimbabwe works with 2 Kings Entertainment, Chipaz Promotions, Sound Event Management and Devine Assignments, among others.
Benjamin Nyandoro is the executive director of Jive Zimbabwe. He writes here in his own capacity.