Home » Arts & Culture » It’s Time for Real Promoters

The debate on whether local music promoters are sincere men and women that work for the development of the industry or mere businesspeople enriching themselves at the expense of musicians has taken centre stage at various forums over the past years. It has been generally agreed that gone are the days when prominent people would sacrifice their resources to develop and nurture talent in the music industry.

The current crop of promoters has been accused of milking musicians and making money easily through shows when musicians do not get what they deserve.

A few years ago, one promoter had a disagreement with two popular musicians when he brought them together for a show and attracted a record crowd.

The musicians had charged the promoter ‘reasonable’ performance fees without the foresight of their capacity to pull a record crowd as a joint force.

After the show the promoter bragged that he had gone away with sacks of money that his close lieutenants took about 10 hours to count.

The musicians, aware of the promoter’s big catch, approached him for possible top-ups on their performance fees as bonuses for a job well done.

The promoter refused and the musicians swore they would never enter such a deal with him. Up to now the two top musicians do not want to share the stage on a rigid contract.

They believed they were ripped off. Of course, the promoter took the risk and cards played to his favour but the bone of contention was the token of appreciation that the musicians pleaded for.

This is one of the cases that are cited in debates on how benefits should be shared between promoters and musicians after a show.

The debates are continuous and both parties always present factual arguments to defend their positions.

The musicians mostly argue that promoters exploit them while promoters say they need a good share for their efforts in organising shows and taking serious risk.

Music critics concur that, besides their business models, promoters should also be involved in developing talent without a profit drive.

These are said to be real promoters. Promoters that can arrange shows to market musicians for free or assist the artistes with what they need for their gigs.

Going by the argument that promoters should work to build the industry more than realise huge profits, the current situation in showbiz makes an appropriate environment for judgment.

Many promoters have now stopped organising shows because of the wave of flops that is sweeping through the industry.

A few months back, promoters jostled to sign dancehall musicians because they were pulling the numbers needed, not only to cover costs, but to make good returns. Now, the shows in the mainstream arena have become tricky. Who could have imagined that a show featuring Oliver Mtukudzi, Jah Prayzah and Suluman Chimbetu in City Sports Centre would flop? It is just a sign of the times. People do not have much to spend on luxury and shows have been affected. Save for a few special gigs – mainly involving Jah Prayzah and Alick Macheso – the industry is not lucrative.

People are not coming to shows but musicians need income to run their bands and take care of their families.

The artistes need food on the table and this is the time when real promoters should stand up.

There is need for promoters that stand with musicians through thick and thin.

It is unfortunate that most show organisers have gone silent while some of the active ones are now refusing to pay performance fees and opting to have musicians sell tickets.

They are not ready to take the risk. Real promoters will stand with musicians through thick and thin and work tirelessly for the development of the industry regardless of the state of the business environment.

May the real promoters stand up and continue supporting musicians in this tricky environment. Passion for the arts should drive promoters more than profit. It is a sad situation when “promoters” that used to make huge profits at the shows leave the musicians to face the current challenges alone.

Source : The Herald