Kenya spends more money importing artists for lavish concerts than it does paying Kenyan artists to perform at concerts.
Kenyan corporate sponsors provide hundreds of millions of shillings per year to sell their brands through activation events, concerts and other promotional avenues.
Every now and then, they throw in an image or brand ambassador who gets a couple of million shekels in the bag (if they’re really lucky).
Without these events and opportunities there would be a dying, if not dead, entertainment industry in Kenya.
Music albums used to be the respected way to earn a living and a reputation as a musician. In the streaming age, millions of listeners raise a fraction of a coin towards artists and billions for the services themselves. Savvy musicians play this game like seasoned gamblers but, the house always wins.
It’s been asked before, “How do we build a Kenyan music industry when media outlets list foreign music preferentially to Kenyan produced music?“.
Radio and television stations answer by claiming that Kenyan music isn’t of the quality that their listeners deserve (or some such spiel) to listen to or watch and thus they broadcast foreign music which, in their opinion, fits their advertiser “demographics”. The same reasoning is applied across the board with film content, though with the addition that is is cheaper to purchase foreign content than produce Kenyan content (Ohhhkay).
Let’s start with the basics.
Question Your Reality
- Who in these radio and television stations is qualified to judge music quality? Are their offices filled with music aficionados or music critics? Better yet, are there stations that quietly hire practicing musicians to gauge common elements of music like pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics (loudness and softness), and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture, sometimes termed the “color” of a musical sound? (source: Wikipedia)…The common retort to this is that you don’t have to be a musician to judge good music or as the saw goes, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like…“
- Does a business that requires music to draw in listeners, attached to presenters who engage listeners that then sell advert space to corporate entities who need a captive audience to market to, have any business in choosing which music their listeners enjoy?
- Does a business that chooses the music listeners enjoy have a conflict of interests when that same business also remits monies to rights collection agencies for the music they have chosen, by whatever metrics or juju casting they employ to decide what is Kenyan and up to their standards?
- If it is accepted that anyone may run their business in whichever manner they see fit, so long as the customers are enamored and the shareholders are happy, then radio and television will never be the carriers of Kenyan culture to the masses through authentic art and music. These companies will reap greater profits as artists stage ineffectual protests for more airplay and government agencies concerned issue random statements to up the airplay without any tangible results.
- P.R.O’s / C.M.O’s (in Kenya) are…an interesting case study for the discerning mind. That’s really the only thing to say about that.
- Do you, dear reader, care enough about Kenyan music and culture to actually question the playlists on your favorite stations?
- Do Kenyan artists realize that the radio and television era is dead, awaiting only burial. and that the Internet is the only way to get content unfiltered to consumers ears?
Expand Your Mind
Let’s finish with a little light reading, just a click away:
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