In the Groove: Musicians say goodbye to the year 2022

Winky D

Christmas has come and gone. Not many musicians made a lot of money during this festive season. Most of them have these words to say: “Goodbye 2022. Welcome 2023. We need brighter New Year wishes.”

Many musicians found it tough going in the year 2022 to the extent that some had to quit the industry altogether.

The reason most of those who quit gave was the fact that they were not earning enough money to make ends meet.

The rent had to be paid. Electricity (Even though there were hardly any supplies from Zesa for the past three weeks) and gas bills had to be met.  School fees had to be paid for their children. Above all, they and their families had to eat. Many would work just once in two weeks. Music was just not doing it for them as some would earn just $10 a night.

I am yet to be told of one Zimbabwean musician who smiled all the way to the bank in the past 12 months.

Every Zimbabwean artiste I met in 2022 told me that they were struggling to make ends meet. The top musicians were barely surviving, but that is the music ‘business’ in Zimbabwe for you.

One top artiste who was in the process of building himself a luxury home in one of Harare’s suburbs since 2018 had anticipated finishing this project by 2022 but all was in vain. He did not make any significant money in 2022, so the plan stalled.

He is wondering if he should start looking for another job. In my conversation with him, I tried to encourage him to continue with the music path by telling him that he was an inspiration to younger musicians who looked up to him. I even wished him a happy new year by telling him that the year 2023 was going to be different.

The year 2022 was tough on everyone but tougher on a lot of career musicians. That’s why in 2023 as a New Year’s resolution, we must acknowledge our privilege and provide support and love to the people in need in any way we can.  Musicians who can afford it, have the power to change people’s lives, to make their lives just a little bit brighter and a little bit lighter.

If it is any consolation, the lyrics by Busy Signal should encourage the struggling musician to dream of better days in 2023:

Jah Jah know


These are the things I see

Right in front of me...

As I open my eyes oh I give

Thanks to life oh oh oh... oh yes Lord

As the days go by...

Out comes the sun

Shining on my face again, aha

Grades get me high, high so I can meditate, oh whoa

Dreams of brighter days aha, aha, aha

Highest grades we blaze aha, aha, ah

Dreams of brighter days aha, aha, aha

(Giving thanks) giving thanks, giving thanks

Giving thanks, giving thanks to life

This year, among the world’s chaos, the troubles and struggles of musicians and all marginally underprivileged people must change significantly.

There are several ways in which we can deal with this miserable situation.

The music industry is evolving faster than ever. Each year new platforms and mediums skyrocket to prominence, minting household names and reshaping the way audiences connect with artistes. Platforms such as Tik Tok, iTunes, Spotify, Sound Cloud, Pandora, Amazon and You Tube have transformed the music playing field. Simultaneously, new technologies put creative tools into the hands of people who previously couldn’t access them.

 Although I have been at the forefront of encouraging career musicians not to give up, predicting the future of the music industry in this rapidly evolving landscape is tricky. We’ve had the chance to discuss music trends shaping the future (among many other things). An influx of new revenue models has appeared for modern artistes on channels like Twitch, TikTok and even Twitter. These platforms are growing the music industry’s income at a record rate. But the technology’s role as portals to build a loyal following and achieve that point of sustainable living as a recording artiste is beyond complex to maintain.

Many artistes in Zimbabwe survive on live performances. With the collapse of Zimbabwe’s record companies, very few artistes in Zimbabwe make money through their recordings as the technology moves on.

In a saturated and turbulent music industry, what the modern artiste goes through to reach relevant, convertible listeners is beyond the difficulty of an uphill battle. A few years ago, compact disks were sold through artistes’ trunks. Some artistes would release albums and drive around selling their projects to people on the streets. Today, not only are streaming remunerations poor when distributing music digitally, but payouts are often late and can even risk cannibalising an up-and-coming artiste’s fandom by dedicating too much time to a single channel.

Although people in Western countries have now gone back to distributing music through vinyl records, that technology is considered by many people in Zimbabwe as archaic. The record companies in Zimbabwe even sold their record manufacturing pressing plants for a song thinking that kind of technology would never come back. However, there is a going back to the vinyl trend in Europe and the United States of America. Record players and long-playing albums are back in fashion and this seems to be catching on throughout the world.

Digital music distribution is currently the dominant mode of consumption these days. Many artistes have now gone on digital platforms. Spotify alone has close to half a billion users around the world, including almost 200 million paying subscribers, but artistes are paid out less than one cent per stream, on average. This could be one reason why some artistes have become sceptical about streaming as a way of earning a living. In Zimbabwe, many artistes prefer to go on the streets and sell their own CDs. That way, they are guaranteed cash which goes straight into their pockets without representation from record distributors. But if the 12- inch vinyl album comes back, these artistes would be in trouble because the manufacturing of vinyl records is more complicated than reproducing CDs.

Destroyed fandom can create cavities in a genre’s organism, ultimately leading to its downfall or stagnation as a style. While we have seen a resurgence of independent artistry distributing music independently and never seeking out label representation, today’s recording artistes need to eke out every extra dollar they can get from their creativity to stay relevant. Fandom, identity, recreation, engagement and connection are an artist’s basic needs, but the centre—consumption—forcefully flows through to streaming services and dilutes the cultural capital, costing more to produce than it earns the artiste. In today’s creator economy industry, the artist hopes to rid the world of this dilemma and offer alternative streams of income to the creators who provide us with the music which makes this world a prettier place.

Everyone hopes that 2023 will bring prosperity to the musician as they say ‘goodbye’ to 2022.

We hope that as we bid adieu 2022 and get ready to welcome 2023 the artistes in Zimbabwe are also ready to come up with their new compositions.

 New Year is the beginning and start of many deeds. It should also be the beginning of new songs in every genre whether it is Rock, Zimdancehall, Sungura, Jazz or Reggae. Around the world people look up to New Year with new hopes, zeal, and positiveness.

Last week, on New Year’s Eve, Winky D welcomed everyone who attended the gig at the Harare International Conference Centre with an album launch showing the world that he doesn’t need an international artiste to fill up the HICC anymore. Chipaz Promotions at the same time also put up a Zimdancehall New Year celebration at Harare’s City Sports Centre which was adequately attended.

 As we say goodbye to the year 2022, it is my hope that every musician should start making money from their craft this year. The government should also establish grants or loans for the struggling musician in order to encourage the building up of their skills and to keep them employed.  Everyone greets and wishes each other a happy New Year. Family members, friends, music fans near and dear ones gather and celebrate by welcoming this new year. It is time to take along good memories and to create some more beautiful ones. Happy New Year everyone!


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