4 August 2017

Tanzania: What Are We Missing Without the Awards?

Photo: The Citizen
Kilimanjaro Music Awards

When the National Arts Council in collaboration with some stakeholders launched the Tanzania Music Awards in 1999, it was one of many music-centric telecasts that doled out awards and irreverence equally.

At that point in time apart from the International awards such as the MTV's Video Music Awards, the Kora Awards, there were others in the neighbourhood such as the Kisima Music Awards in Kenya and PAM in Uganda.

Several years down the road, these awards are in a state of serious malaise with some already pronounced dead as there are no signs of survival.

It has been two years since the last Kilimanjaro Music Awards were held at Mlimani City Conference Hall; it was a scene that the industry had become accustomed to as the City's glitterati converged.

The 15 years of the awards night had seen many come and go as it became a point of reference in every artiste's career.

Those were days that every artiste and those who earn their bread through music looked forward to with glee.

The events that followed afterwards were always interesting especially as some got the bragging rights over their peers.

The abrupt hiatus that is yet to be explained by Basata and the sponsors Kilimanjaro left a great void, one that is yet to be filled and worse still, it remains a mystery as to when the next awards night shall take place. There are some who have either from a miss informed point of view bragged that the industry does not need the awards to prosper.

They believe that Bongo Flava as a genre is doing just fine even without the ceremonies, forgetting that these awards offered the only opportunity to celebrate our creative geniuses.

The Afrima story

It was rather not surprising two weeks ago when the Afrima announced the nominees for this award and the list was dominated by Tanzanian artistes such as Diamond, Vanessa Mdee, Dyna Nyange and many others.

The entries had been overwhelming with over 4000 received for the annual event which showed just how much these artistes were hungry for recognition by their fans and the industry.

According to Rikki Stein the massive entries was a sign that the creative industry is moving towards the right direction.

"This is tremendous news, indicative of an increasingly healthy music industry across Africa, particularly from a creative perspective. AFRIMA is plugged in to the aspirations of the African continent, providing a platform for excellence in the field of music and a source of inspiration and encouragement for its associated fields of endeavour," he said.

He adds: As one by one, African artists are making their mark in the wider world, acting as ambassadors of their countries and their culture, the eyes and ears of that wider world are opening and turning towards Africa as the source of much more than entertainment.

Does it pay?

Many have wondered if artists get paid for winning these awards and performing at such awards ceremonies given the kind of pomp that was associated with it.

"At awards such as BET , Kora and MTV Africa we don't get paid to perform there instead you have to use it as mileage to improve your marketing side and that is why you have to put your best foot forward," Diamond told Tanzania Works, a video section on the Citizen website.

Contrary to the practice elsewhere in the beginning artistes were paid for every win but this was later stopped and instead they had to settle for the Kili tour which was equally lucrative.

At the Grammys it turns out that the Beyoncé's and Rihanna's of the world who cash in millions don't get paid a cent when they grace the esteemed ceremony.

They don't get a check for winning either; but those golden trophies could auction off for a hefty amount of dollars should they ever need the funds.

The live event is far from a loss though. Forbes reports that performers and producers see a Grammy Bounce' of at least 55 per cent in concert ticket sales and producer fees during the year following a Grammy win. David Banner says that his producer fee jumped from $50,000 to $100,000 after his work on Lil Wayne's single "Lollipop."

What happens there after?

Co-producer Jim Jonsin, who also worked with Beyoncé, told DailyFinance.com that the rewards were "life-changing." "If I really wanted to, I could charge a good 20 per cent to 30 per cent more. I didn't raise my prices, though," he said of his Grammy win. Pre Grammy-winning status, producers on average charge $30,000 to $50,000 per track.

If you're fortunate enough to snag an award, though, Jonsin says that the starting figure is in the $75,000 area and super-producers like Timbaland and Pharrell can demand twice that.

Thanks to the high-profile night, stars benefit in mainstream visibility and in their pockets too. After winning his first Grammy, Bruno Mars' average nightly gross swelled from $130,000 to $202,000.

Esperanza Spalding went from $20,000 to $32,000 and Taylor Swift jumped from $125,000 to $600,000.

And because it would be so tasteless for Hollywood to send its multi-millionaire guests home empty handed, celebrities leave the occasion with a gift bag worth more than some people's salaries.

According to the TorontoSun.com, gifts include Tiffany cat collars, Gibson guitars, trips to deserted islands, cashmere sweaters, teeth whitening products, jewelry, sunglasses and designer leather bags." The very generous goodies in 2010 reportedly came to about $50,000 in value.

So, no, music's superstars don't walk away with a physical check in tow.

The mere association to the Grammy's, however, does fatten their wallets long after the special airs.

And just as it is in the West, local artistes here too saw their profiles balloon after the win, most notable, when Diamond in 2009 picked five gongs his personal and artistic life changed.

He got a rare profile to work with some of Africa's superstars including Senegal's Yussou N'dour.

His growing profile soon put him among the elite just as his asking price for shows soon began to shoot from a prodigy to a superstar.

Whatever followed was all history as he has become one of Africa's most sought after performer in the modern days.

Though there have been other awards that have come up with the aim of filling the void, there is every indication that the Kili awards are sorely missed.

Whatever happened that forced the organisers to back out is still a point of debate but as they continue mulling over what the future holds it is obvious that the industry needs these awards.

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