The year started on a rather sour note for gospel artist Emmanuel Maseko and probably all music lovers from the city of Mzuzu. Maseko had good plans for his album launch show.
He made best efforts to invite some of the respected names in the gospel music circles. He went into agreements with them and made sure he made monetary deposits of a good chunk of the agreed appearance fees.
Having gone that far, the Mzuzu-based artist thought he was home and dry and a perfect launch event was within touching distance. Little did he know that some of his colleagues in the business had other plans.
Come the day of the show at Squirrels Park on New Year’s Day, two of the artists he had agreed with- Ethel Kamwendo Banda and Favoured Martha were a no-show. Maseko had it all in his face to justify the absence of the two to the audience who all-along were told the duo would be available.
On entering the agreement, Kamwendo-Banda we are told demanded a fee of K150 thousand, of which K130 thousand was paid. As for Favoured Martha, she demanded K180 thousand and an upfront payment of K150 thousand was made.
Both artists, in the end gave different reasons for their stay-away from the show. But the excuses only came after the show. A big inconvenience to the organisers of the show! As we went to press Kamwendo-Banda had repaid the money but Favoured Martha was yet to.
No matter how genuine the reasons for their no-show were but this conduct is not acceptable and certainly should not be allowed space in as far modern ways of conducting business is concerned. This is in no lesser terms cheating. Unfortunately Maseko shared in this burden.
The posters and adverts which are flighted prior to shows need to be respected. That is why the act of including acts which will not take part in shows on posters is never admissible either. People are wooed to events on the pretext that some particular individuals will be present according to the running adverts and posters.
In the spirit of fair trade and honesty, every effort should be made by all parties involved in such arrangements that come the day of the event, they should avail themselves at the venues. If not then communication suggesting otherwise, at least two days before the event should be made.
Anything less smacks of thievery and lack of respect to the binding agreements and commitments in place and above all the fans who flock to these events. This case is not an isolated one. The act of absenting oneself without prior notice from shows is common practice among musicians. And it stinks.
Musicians must start respecting their trade before outsiders. How will the industry attract serious partnerships if players continue conducting themselves as if what they are doing is just to pass time? If they go on a bargaining table with such dis-organisation littered all over their conduct, what they will walk away with will be crap.
This week the nation appeared in shock and disbelief with the revelation from rapper Fredokiss that he has earned about K80 million in the past year. Here is one lad who knows how to build, manage and market his brand. Ultimately he knows what he is worth and he settles for nothing less.
At one of the festivals held last year, Fredokiss confidently confided in this publication that he was probably the highest earner at the event among all local acts. He said he had given the organisers a take-it or leave-it stance when they were negotiating their deal.
If they were not meeting his demands, he was not showing up. At the end of the day, they showed they needed him more and they accepted his demands. One importance of knowing your value and safeguarding it.
If musicians will not work on their brands they will continue being exploited in this trade. Let them get their act together. Let them earn that respect. Let them start inspiring confidence in the eyes of both potential partners and their fans. n