Artists and their worth



Good people, last week our cover story discussed an issue that has been a bone of contention for quite some time in the arts world- that of performance fees for artists in the country. While some artists are deemed ‘affordable’, others are billed as ‘too expensive’. But then one has to sit back and reflect on why artists differ in their billing. I will attempt to answer this question.

To begin with, it is a fact that when one wants good things, one should be ready to pay some good money for them. Again, the same applies to our artists. If an artist is good, their work will speak for itself.

On top of the good work and the talent, organisation, presentation and investment come into play.

I am talking about an artist whose stage presence oozes with a lot of rehearsal time, fashionable clothes, clear modern and powerful sound equipment and what have you. These things, my friends, are what determine if an artist will be ‘expensive’ or ‘cheap’.

I recently saw some impressive pictures of gospel artist Faith Mussa who launched his Mdidi album at the Bingu International Convention Centre before a sold-out crowd. The stage spoke for itself.

Everything about the stage spoke of perfection. The stage set-up, the artist’s dressing, his band mates, the supporting acts were all on point! And when he asked patrons to part with K10 000 to see him perform, patrons paid without complaining! This is what great stuff is made of.

In the same vein, we have other artists who want to do things as usual.

Artists who will  perform wearing clothes they wore the previous day, looking worn out after the first song, without any choreography or special effects to their set.

Such artists are the ones who will demand K1 000 as gate fees for their performance.

What I am trying to say is when we complain about high fees from some artists, we should be fair in our judgement. Artists are supposed to get value for their investment and talent.

We have seen lots of talented artists who fail to upgrade themselves. These artists will always be average no matter what.

And then we have others who may not necessarily be talented but have invested heavily in their trade and will be making a lot more money by demanding high fees for their performances.

This is all up to the artists to come up with a price tag which they feel fits them.

I for one go for quality. If I want good quality entertainment I will pay for it. If I want zachisawawa [average] I will also go for those ‘cheaper’ shows where people push and shove each other and where safety of patrons is not guaranteed.

Otherwise, this debate about some artists being too expensive is really misplaced. We ought to choose which type of entertainment appeals to us the most. I always get fascinated when I watch our friends in developed countries.

During a live performance, you will see so many stage directors, costume designers, dancers, sound engineers, among others. This is what makes the shows unique and great.

And when patrons are asked to pay high fees, they will pay knowing that they will be thoroughly entertained and in a way they will forever cherish.

So, let this be a challenge to our local artists. If you want to be great, act great, don’t settle for the usual average stuff.n


The author is a guest writer.

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