This should be one of the most challenging articles I'll ever pen, because I am an artist, producer and for some other reasons you'll soon find out.
Being a producer I have mentored and worked with very many artists. Like any other journey, it's never a walk in park. We too face challenges along the way. Some we overcome while there are those we would rather forget.
On Friday, February 7 is a one such day. I received news of the passing on of the Award-winning Gospel artist Papa Dennis after allegedly falling from a 7th floor building in Pangani Nairobi at around midnight. That was personal to me. The nature of his demise was suspect since knowing him from when they began with fellow artists Simpo Dimpo, Njeri, Ero Mtu, Mjukuu among others, Papa was not an overly emotional fellow.
Those are the days they would go hungry for days until when the next miracle would manifest. Their controversial manager Sadaat Muhindi would pay their rent and let them fend for themselves in a time when no one knew them which meant little or no downloads. The days when there was no SKIZA which for sure have contributed a lot in the development of the entertainment industry. Folks can now download or stream music on websites like www.KlassikNation.com.
A few days after Papa Dennis' demise, Award-winning Gospel artist Daddy Owen posted a Paybill number requesting folks to contribute towards giving Papa a befitting send off. The kind of response on this timeline mane me sit back and reflect on the entire industry, including artist-fan relationship.
We watch our favourite stars on television. Make sure we are right on time before their shows or exhibitions. We sing along to their music, recite their poems and talk about them and or their works with so much enthusiasm. We love the thrill, I admire your loyalty.
However, we have those who earn and those who don't. But we all have to stay relevant in the game. Money is not everything today, it is the only thing. This is about strategy and management. A topic I will cover soon.
I believe you have heard about 'fake it until you make it' slogan? A majority of artists show up to video shoots or even shows on borrowed on attires, toys and so forth, just to show off their affluence. Whereas we have artists who what you see is just what you get. I believe in being real with my folks. This in turn shapes how you create your next masterpiece. I do it for God and for the people without forgetting good life as the most essential elements to a fulfilling human existence.
Another challenge faced by artists is that their fans have certain expectations from them. From how they dress to how they should perform to whom they should date. Whenever they will fail to meet them, it is like the will suffer some kind of consequences. On this matter I always advice my artists to always be the pacesetters. That is where the fun is. The element of surprise!
Artists too face disappointments while working hard to break through. This includes meeting rogue promoters who in turn live of artists’ sweat. This country is notorious for such kind of characters. We have sons and daughters of this land who have dedicated their entire life to con unsuspecting artists while promising them paradise. We see them travelling abroad and posting exotic images of themselves when in real sense it is all paid for. Papa Dennis, Conjestina Achieng just to mention but a few, suffered from this unfortunate fate. Forget the Toyota V8 and the bunch of cash they post. Is a lie! The money belongs to the promoter! Earned through their connection to the bragging artist. All for the camera. Serikali saidia.
On serikali saidia, government interference is also another hurdle faced by artists in all jurisdictions around the world. On January 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the Kenya Copyright Board to gazette tariffs that in his opinion would help streamline the entertainment industry. No sooner had the PR settled did they publish new tariffs, charging exorbitant fees and ridiculous percentage revenue shares. Like why would a government take a 55% share on caller ring back tones, ringtones, downloads, streaming, simulcast and webcasting, including content service providers and Telecommunication companies? How much will the artist remain with considering the producer has a share, the songwriter and the promoter too? What will one remain with to invest in marketing, promotion and even the next song? This is how the government destroy hopes and dreams. Remember there is a non-compliance penalty of 5% of the tariff compounded for the period it remains unpaid.
Like any other human being, grief is another hard hitting challenge to every artist. Whenever one loses a loved one, it affects how we think, operate and relate with the world to until when we finally heal. I need not to say more for we grieve differently. Family plays a big role in comforting people. A person who lives alone is a wizard. In short we are humans.
The Badman Killa’s timeless advice is to always look at every challenge as an opportunity.
However, if you are not wanted at home, where will you sleep?
~ DON SANTO