The modern musical landscape of Kenya is one of the most diverse and vibrant of all African countries. But under-investment, ineffective management of intellectual property rights, and rampant piracy have prevented the industry from realizing its economic potential and left its artists struggling to earn a living.
Despite its vibrant creativity and boom in production, the Kenyan music industry is nowhere near realizing its potential. “Nobody knows about Kenyan music,” says Suzanna Owiyo, “and that is because we lack proper networking in terms of distribution.”
The lack of investment in production has also stunted the industry’s growth. Training and rehearsing facilities are few and inadequate and recording studios are technically obsolete Moreover, it is often very difficult for young musicians to buy instruments. Abbi expresses the frustration of many of his fellow artists: “If we could get more financial investment in music, then truthfully our music would rise to a different level.”
According to Joe Muchiri, a well-known radio producer at 98.4 Capital Fm, Local Artist do everything on their own, from handling of management to distribution of music and booking of events.
“We all know an individual can only do so much, our artists lack proper management skills and services making them vulnerable to promoters” .He also continues to say that Lack of a long term vision from the artists is also missing from the artists. “Majority of the artists get into music looking for fame and that’s it. They don’t see it as a career and therefore treat it as a side hustle. Once the tag famous (celebrity) is attained there is no road map on how to move forward which is a very dangerous mistake one can ever have in this industry
Muchiri’s sentiments are echoed by Gospel artist Daddy Owen who says;
“Most artists get into music with the wrong mentality, There mindset being fame and that they want to achieve itthe next minute,They are always in a hurry to release new music every now and that leading to substandard production and saturation of the air space with badly mastered music. This is not sustainable as it is financially draining to the artists especially the upcoming ones since no one is playing their songs and calling them out for concerts therefore no money is being generated”
The conversation goes further with Pine creek records owner Mr, Peter Nduati who says that,
“Local artists lack the art of marketing and branding themselves, It’s time artists took music seriously as a career and packaged themselves well, it only through this that they will start making it In this industry and earn a decent living out of their enormous talents and potential.”
Mister. Jessy an upcoming artists from Kibera says that on average he spends like Ksh 14,000 on a track plus video production i.e Ksh 4,000 on studio recording and Ksh 10,000 on video production.
Jessy doesn’t have a manager nor is he signed to any label. Music is his passion and would like to grow as an artists. He says some of the problems he faces is getting air play and adequate resources to get into studio more regularly. “Everything I do with my music career is out of the love, I would like to grow as an artist and earn from my talent, I can’t manage to employ a manager also since my music career is not making any money at the moment and no one will work for you for free” “he says.
He continues to add that “I have heard of Dandora hiphop city, I believe it is a great platform for upcoming artists such as myself and it is something I would love to be part of. I know zero when it comes to balancing of books (Managing finances) and branding myself as an artists and I would love to receive help when it comes to these arears especially from a label of platform such as Hiphop city”
INCOME FROM ROYALTIES AND ENDORSEMENTS
It is difficult to tell how much established artists make at the end of the day from royalties and endorsements as this data is kept secret and are not available to the common public but what’s out there is that Artists make 7 figures out of this ventures as co-operates are starting to take notice of their talents and are using them as part of their marketing programs.
It is clear that there is money and lots of it in this industry and therefore as Mr. Nduati said, financial management is key if one is to remain viable in this industry but in order to get there, artists need solid management practice and branding behind them.