Digitised music and local musicians


ONCE upon a time the music industry had a relatively uncomplicated business model — band or artiste records song, record label sells song, artiste and record label make money. And of course the artiste made a sustainable living from this old system.


Musicians such as Alick Macheso, Oliver Mtukudzi and Thomas Mapfumo will definitely testify that those days were different compared to the new digital era now in place. The new era has brought about restructuring within the music industry, not only with whom they produce their music, but how they broadcast it to their audiences.

The digital revolution has brought with it many features such as the newest form of consumption or, in other words, music streaming. Artistes do not have the ability to immediately send his or her music through a popular medium, reaching an enormous user base at varying speeds.

When popular musician Jah Prayzah released Watora Mari, a duet with Nigerian musician Diamond Platnumz, they reached over a million views on Youtube in one week. A clear indication that social media is indeed helping our local artiste reach greater audience without having to undergo the immense process of going on tour.

Technology has altered the structure of the industry, and the role of the artiste has shifted as a result. Their lives have become our lives, a reason why anything that affects our favourite artiste also affect us. The digital era has managed to build or destroy music career.

No longer do powerful record labels have complete marketing control over a music artiste’s image. Through contemporary consumption patterns, a teenage electronic DJ can reach hundreds of millions of listeners with digital media and an unknown band can reach celebrity heights of popularity with a viral Youtube video.

Two specific dynamics in the contemporary music industry have changed how society perceives musical influence in culture: the means of music consumption and the presentation of the artiste to the public. These factors have been revolutionised through technology.

In past decades, the album concept in music consumption generated hype, creating an event around the release of music. A new vinyl record was a cherished prize for the music fan asks those that were around during the era of musicians such as James Chimombe and of course, System Tazvida.

But the digital revolution has repeatedly changed this type of consumption. First, mass piracy and digital downloading affected not only sales of an album, but the album itself.

Back then full-length albums were sold in their entirety, however, new forms of consumption allow the user to cherry-pick individual tracks from an album the reason why Zimbabwean musicians like Ammara Brown now opt to realise singles and not albums.

Through social media, the freedom of interaction between music artistes and their fans has never been greater. It’s simply a click and you can witness the daily life of your favourite musician. The content creator and the content recipient are able to communicate with incredible ease and timeliness.

A continuously increasing number of people can tweet at a music star through a single click on a mobile device, providing a means of accessibility that has never before been achievable

The rise of the social media era has brought about a new medium that has interesting effects for the star system and new possibilities for interaction between content creators and recipients. While the past media lifted music stars to heights the ordinary fan presumably could not reach or interact with, social media has positively affected the connectivity between artiste and listener.—technomag.co.zw


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