Music promoter Sibanda urges unity

If it is not the old sounds of fallen legends John Chibadura, Leonard Dembo, Solomon Skuza or Ndux Malax blaring from the speakers, it is new releases from relatively unknown artists seeking fame in the music industry. Patrick Sibanda spends his days surrounded by music.

Patrick Sibanda: famous musicians fail to give a helping hand to compatriots
Patrick Sibanda: famous musicians fail to give a helping hand to compatriots

“My heart bleeds when I see talented musicians from my motherland playing and sweating it out in the streets due to lack of exposure,” he told The Zimbabwean here early this week.

“Partly to blame are those big and famous musicians who fail to give a helping hand to their colleagues who are still trying to climb the ladder.”

Born in Ntabazinduna, Matabeleland North 42 years ago, Sibanda has made his name in Johannesburg as one of the best promoters of Zimbabwean music in South Africa – cutting deals with a number of big-scale distributors and securing an audience for many Zimbabwean musicians.

“We cannot go anywhere as a country with what I see happening in the music industry, where we Zimbabweans are failing to unite,” he fumed.

“The promoters here are not united, musicians themselves are not united and the end result is backstabbing, perennial struggles and wasted talent.”

He believe that, despite being in competition in the industry, musicians should unite to make it big.

“The main aim, other than fighting for recognition, should be beneficial to the promoters, the musicians, the various genres and Zimbabwe as a country. Disunity only results in many artists failing to attract a following.”

Due to a lack of proper marketing, most up-coming Zimbabwean musicians, especially those who sing Rhumba, litter the streets of Hillbrow, Berea and Alexandra, where they play their music on public address systems and sell their discs for as little as R20.

Sibanda also blames the failure of such musicians in the cut-throat South African music industry on the lack of knowledge of correct channels to be followed in marketing music.

“Most of our musicians do not know how they can get their music played on South African radio stations and how they can access major distributors in South Africa. No one is giving them this information,” added Sibanda, whose late father, John Sompe, was a Bulawayo-based music promoter who propelled the likes of Ndux Malax and Solomon Skuza to stardom.

He arrived in Johannesburg in 2001 and started selling music. He started Livingway Music Promotions on the advice of a friend last year, while working with the now popular Insindiso YamaNazaretha.

He has now spread his wings to include South African and Swazi artists, some of who he will take to Zimbabwe at the end of this year.

“Our music is good enough to compete in South Africa, but because it is not well promoted and marketed, our artists do not get that privilege,” said Sibanda.

“Big guns in the Zimbabwean music industry, who have become very popular here should also take it upon themselves to assist those who are starting out. This is what happens here in South Africa, where there is unity of purpose.”

His company, which organises shows for known artists, also brings in relative unknowns to curtain-raise for them.

“In this way we can build new brands as well as develop and bring them to the fore. We need variety.”

Besides promoting and marketing artists, Sibanda’s company recently began to sign and sponsor new artists who are struggling to get funding for their projects.

“We do not have infinite resources, but where we feel there is talent, we make sure that it is realised and that can only come with enabling them to record and market their music.”

He had the following advice for young musicians and promoters:

“Each cannot survive without the other and the only way we can succeed is by standing united for a good cause that will put our country in the map. South African musicians get a lot of airplay in Zimbabwe and there is nothing that should stop our own musicians from getting same favours here.”

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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