Little music cheer this festive season

THE absence of new music from top artistes has left this year’s festive season dry, narrowing down the music choice to Jah Prayzah, Zimdancehall acts or classics.

By Tapiwa Zivira

Normally, top musicians Leonard Zhakata, Oliver Mtukudzi, Sulumani Chimbetu and Alick Macheso, among others, would produce a year-end treat for their fans.

For Mtukudzi, the anticipated release of his 66th album this year was, as his manager Walter Wanyanya recently said to the media, affected by the music grandee’s punishing schedule, which forced him to push it to early next year.

Joining Tuku in the reschedulement of releasing new music was Sulu, whose promise of an album before the end of 2017 only proved to be unattainable, leaving his fans with no choice, but to also wait until early next year.

Speculation is rife that the dendera music exponent may have been forced to shelve an early release as he was battling a maintenance case in the courts, itself a huge dent on his image.

Extrabasso, as sungura superstar Macheso is popularly known, fired warning shots throughout the year, playing some songs from the forthcoming album at live shows, giving his fans an impression that he was about to end the two-year gap and release an album before year-end.

However, “The Man Himself” deferred the release indefinitely, leaving fans hanging in anticipation.

Interestingly, some of the top artistes who released their albums earlier in the year appear to have had their fair share of attention, but fizzled out as the year dragged towards the end, again leaving Jah Prayzah and Zimdancehall artistes filling the gap.

It also presented an opportunity to other little-known artistes like Mark Ngwazi to fit into some of the playlists this Christmas.

Peter Moyo’s gem, Mopao Mokonzi, which was so far his best, hogged the limelight mid-year, but failed to remain in the groove up to year-end, and it speaks very well to the timing of release.

Musicians such as Progress Chipfumo, the Charambas and Nicholas Zakaria also had early releases and their music did not make it to the end of the year.

What this means is that by rescheduling their releases to early next year, Tuku and Sulu also risk failing to capitalise on the Christmas rush for new music.

But on the other hand, it might speak of the hugely shifted dynamics where, in the past, musicians would have to rush to release before year-end to capitalise on record sales.

The digital era has impacted heavily on record sales as many now no longer bother to buy hard copies of music, but pirate it through flash drives and other virtual storage devices.

This means sales are no longer a priority for artistes and releasing albums just before year-end will not necessarily translate into “sales”, so it might still make business sense.

What it will only do is to frustrate fans, who may end up shifting allegiance to other musicians.

But, as Lucky Dube would say, let the music play on . . .

Feedback: tzivira@alphamedia.co.zw @tapiwazivira

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