Zimbabwe: Lockdown - Musicians Seek Alternatives to Live Shows

(file photo).
28 April 2020

Live shows are the major source of income for most musicians and the current lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19 has left many without regular revenue.

Such challenging times call for change of approach to business and most musicians have come up with alternative means to get income.

Live online shows are now common on social media platforms, with singers seeking partnerships with corporates and also ensuring they keep in constant touch with their fans.

Others have started online music tutorials and many have increased their campaigns for online music sales.

Musicians like Janet Manyowa, The Charambas, Alick Macheso, Freeman and Kinnah have featured in online shows.

Others embarking on online projects are Victor Kunonga, Aggabu Nyabinde, Tembalami and Ronald Mhundwa.

In an interview, Kunonga said the lockdown has given them time to interact with fans more than they usually do when they have busy schedules.

"The lockdown has given us time to respond to feedback from our fans and attend to their requests. I have managed to do live-streaming of three performances so far and the advertisement highlights have been going so well. Well-wishers can offer their gratuity through paying via Ecocash and Paypal," said Kunonga.

Nyabinde says he started doing online music tutorials many months ago, but the number of learners has increased because of the lockdown.

"People are moving away from studio sessions to digital platforms. I am using social media platforms to teach people how to play guitars. So far I am doing it for free and sometimes my father (Bob Nyabinde) joins me in conducting the tutorials," he said.

Ronald Mhundwa, a bass guitarist who plays with rising Afro-fusion musician Mbeu's band, The Mhodzi Tribe, already has 15 students online.

Mhundwa said the absence of live performances led him to seek other forms of income.

"Since the lockdown started, I realised there was no income coming my way as we are usually paid after playing at live shows. I started conducting music lessons online via Zoom," he said.

Mhundwa said most of his students are locally based.

"I'm teaching acoustic guitar, marimba, bass guitar, mbira, music theory and live performance skills to 15 students," he said.

"Most of them are locally based, but I also have students in South Africa, United Kingdom and the Philippines. They pay an equivalent of US$ 5 for a 30-minute lesson."

Mhundwa has been teaching music for some time as a part time lecturer at Zimbabwe College of Music.

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