The popular saying, ‘fortune favours the prepared mind’, could best be used to describe the current situation for many Ugandan performing artistes. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the entertainment industry was severely affected as COVID restrictions announced in March 2020 led to closure of all entertainment places meaning cancelled concerts, events and shows. More than a year later, the income for many artistes has been severely curtailed.
However, this is not the case for a number of them. Celebrated hip hop singer GNL Zamba is one who has not suffered the economic downturn by turning himself into an international brand through adopting digital space to ply his trade.
Born Ernest Nsimbi, the rapper who has popularised hip hop, known locally as LugaFlow, recently boasted of earning more than Ugx1 billion (Appx $280,000) from an album he launched online. In a Facebook live video, Zamba urges fellow artistes to take their trade online where they can host shows and charge their fans. He says physical shows are a thing of the past.
“I have spent time without organising any physical performances but I am earning well from my music through online shows,” he says.
Zamba, who released an album during the first lock down of 2020, revealed that this album did not play on radio and he never staged a show.
“100,000 paid downloads on an independent platform I own and control – gnlzamba.com. Understanding email marketing, a monetised international fan base, understanding ownership is all you need,” he shared.
Zamba’s advice comes against the backdrop of artistes complaining of copyright theft and being cheated by their managers and promoters.
In a televised address President Museveni urged artistes to embrace the digital revolution saying; “I have instructed the minister of Finance and Economic Development to financially support the actualisation of online platforms for performing artistes to embrace digital revolution. Artistes can perform online through the internet.”
Ever since the shutdown of concerts, we have seen a number of artistes and companies opting for virtual shows which were free for example Bobi Wine whose Facebook live show garnered 100,000 views, 7000 comments and 3000 shares, Spice Diana had 9,100 people watching via Facebook, along with Kenneth Mugabi, Club Beats and others.
On the other hand, Tanzanian artiste Diamond Platinumz’s collabo with Congolese veteran artiste Koffi Olomidde reportedly made TZ Shs89 million in just two months and in a period of four months the song titled ‘waah’ had acquired more than 80million views on YouTube.
The hit generated a record million views in 8 hours after its release and 10 million views within a week.
In an instagram post, Platinumz explained how artistes can make money on YouTube urging them to focus on making money through an international as well as domestic audience.
“In Tanzania, most people consume music through YouTube, therefore, views translate into sales. Not every song that gets such views can earn that amount of money. It also depends on which country the song is being watched from. There are some countries whose views do not make a lot of money. So let us try to make sure that our works reach the developed countries because that is where the money is,” he posted.
Lockdown or no lockdown, artistes may have no choice but to take their acts into the digital space especially for the Generation Z. Platforms such as Tiktok have become massively popular places where consumers of entertainment flock to find amusement and this influence continues to grow month by month.