This is also a look at where the Kenyan Music Industry started where we are stuck and what we need to do to make Kenyan music bigger.
What is the future of Music in Kenya? Is the Play Kenyan Music movement leading us to the revolutionising of Kenyan music? I looked at the conversations happening online and these are my thoughts of what is actually happening.
Before you continue reading this, I highly recommend this article about Ghana’s Highlife Music: A Political History & Struggles of Upcoming Musicians It will give you a great juxtaposed perspective of Ghana’s Music Industry in relation to the Kenyan Music Industry: Click here to open the Article about Ghana’s Music Industry in a new tab.
Melvin’s Joint Metaphor in relation to the Kenyan Music Industry:
I go to work at 8:00 am every morning and usually buy sandwiches from Melvin’s Joint. Sometimes I buy from another coffee shop because I like having something different once in a while. I may reconsider buying from Melvin’s Joint all-together, if he doesn’t impress me on a continuous basis.
Most of us, if not all, have found ourselves in a “Melvin’s joint” situation with the Kenyan Music Industry. Where At one point, we are avid followers and the next we are trying so hard to find the remote and switch that thing off.
IS Developing the Kenyan Music Industry more than Playing Kenyan Music?
Just recently, when the Kenyan Music Industry personalities came after Radio for not playing their music, I couldn’t see what they were complaining about.
Their issues were as varied as they came. The whole situation seemed like a lot of people trying to speak at the same time about different issues but with one voice, starting at different times. Almost like their choir master, if any, was absent.
Kenya is a capitalist country. This is a fact one should know before spewing unadulterated insults at Radio stations or their presenters.
In a capitalist country like Kenya, people, especially in the performing arts industry, are paid what the market will bear which means they are paid based on clout and popularity as opposed to talent and quality.Watch: The Play House Series - An analysis by @Teddjosiah, to understand how the Kenyan Music Industry started, Where it got stuck and What we need to do to resuscitate it and make Kenyan music bigger. #PlayKenyanMusic Click To Tweet
Main stream media, generates sales from ratings and are in no way or form in the charity business.
Radio stations and TV stations are mainly advertiser-supported media. In order for these advertisers to reach their target market, they look for ratings which are influenced by views.
People listen to radio stations that play music they want to listen to, this in turn influences the station’s bottom line. The more the views/ listeners, the higher the bottom line for these media companies. Thus, content indirectly influences worth for these radio and TV stations.
While a lot of Kenyan musicians driven by their hopes (imagination) to succeed, most have not done their research on what Kenyans like. This may boil down to personal opinion, culture and behaviour influences. The things we accept as the fashionable or social norms.
If we dress foreign, eat foreign or do foreign activities, we will consume foreign content. Research and Empathy alone is not enough to understanding others as people lie in interviews and reaction doesn’t reflect behaviour.
Speaking of Empathy, our immediate reaction to a particular thing may not mean we are drawn to it in the long run. For instance the new hit song “Taka taka” by a Kenyan artist called Alvin or Alvindo, caused a stir on the local Media. It was inspired by a girl that Alvindo liked called Natasha. Natasha was not interested and this deeply hurt him so he went ahead and shared his views, mostly insults about Natasha.
“Taka taka” Song by a Kenyan artist, Alvin AKA Alvindo:
However, are you ready to populate your playlist with such music or similar? Would you listen to it over and over in time? There is a difference between instant gratification and preference. Most Kenya artistes take these reactions to particular songs as the direction of Kenyan’s taste in music.
If I and or other people complain about Melvin’s joint Sandwiches, their best option would be to change what they do or have to close down shop. In turn, Kenyan Artists should not blame radio or the presenters, instead they should change their content or what they are doing if they want to remain on the Radio.