Urban musicians appear to have found a new niche and fertile ground for their live performances away from their usual urban set-ups.
Recent trends have shown that many artists are now exploiting the market potential in rural areas by hosting their events in districts as opposed to the cities.
Eli Njuchi, who recently launched his new album Red Flag in Mangochi, is among the notable musicians and following in his footsteps is hip-hop artist Gwamba, who has scheduled his album launch show in Kasungu Municipality.
Artists such as Kell Kay have in the recent past also commanded overwhelming patronage in distant venues such as Karonga.
Both the artists and event organisers say the change is systematic and a result of longstanding efforts.
Creative manager Prince Chikweba, who is also Eli Njuchi’s manager, said the outcome is a phase that every industry goes through. He credited the status quo to collective efforts that artists are investing in to approach music as a business.
He said: “People are able to see what is being invested and are putting value to it. The phase we are in is what defines what is sustainable and what is not.
“Artists have to be aware that no-one owes them anything and they have to put in more effort to earn the attention of the audience.”
Chikweba said for long the rural market was neglected in terms of leisure activitiesif not restricted to activities funded by non-governmental organisations. He said now artists are penetrating rural areas to create demand by showcasing their value.
Rapper Gwamba said it helps when music is approached as a business, stressing on the importance of conducting a thorough market study. He also highlighted the need to break the monotonous nature of the events in cities.
He said: “We have events lined up every weekend in town which feature almost the same names. We cannot have people go to Golf Club to watch the same people every weekend. We need to go where there is real demand for our music.”
Gwamba said social media has worked to the advantage of artists as they are able to reach out to more people easier. He attributed the shift to the maturity and quality of musical content which has made masses embrace the musicians easily.
Event manager Wisdom Phanga concurred with Gwamba on the lack of variety in most town events, saying the decision to try in areas that are rarely exploited will also benefit many.
“There is huge potential for urban music in the rural areas. The only challenge is our economy. If we do an event in the city and charge K2 000 that is too little. But if you host a similar event in the rural areas you are expected to charge less. If you measure this against the cost of organising the event you will see it does not make economic sense,” he said.
Excess Chiligo, Mikozi Network chief executive officer, said: “The rural and semi-urban dwellers show more love for these artists because they rarely see them in person.”