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Music artistry and image

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By Kelvin Musonda

Music is about the voice,instruments and talent. But as a business, the above mentioned do not suffice in insuring that one is bankable and lucrative as an act.

Musicians are not called role models and celebrities sorely cause of their constructive noise talents. Although it’s their skillful combination of their vocals and lyrics that catapult them to popularity and make us fall in love with them,we have also allowed these talented individuals and collectives to also set the trends in fashion,language and lifestyles that we gladly follow or imitate.

Most music celebrities especially in countries where the music
industry has well established structures understand the important role their image plays in the public eye.

As a result,they put great effort into making sure that image is portrayed in a way that keeps the public and music consumers hooked onto them for the purpose of their popularity and financial gain.

Part of this image work includes maintaining a good physical
appearance and conduct of oneself.Image is everything. That is why in the modern entertainment industry,TV,radio,magazines and other forms of media handles are as focused on the artist’s image as they are on their art.

As such,celebrities always aim for excellence with their outfits,hairstyles and anything to do with their outward appearance.

We like our celebrities to sell us fantasy and for their fame to come with beauty of appearance and attitude. Something that a good number of our(Zambian) artists are not very good at. Not saying that Zed acts do not know how to clean up nice and keep up with the best of trends,but their is more to the image in this case than just dressing up.

Over the years we have seen a lot of artists that have come on the scene looking beautiful,handsome and all other sorts of attractive personnas. But we have also seen how most of these artists have gone on to gain more weight than fame(because in Zambia gaining weight means wealth).

To those that this has happened to,this has also been
their downfall.Why has this been the case?Like I stated earlier,
people like,if not love to be sold fantasy. We like to associate
celebrities with sexiness and all other forms of beauty.

When a handsome Usher or Chris Brown lookalike comes on the scene and is able to croon sweet melodies while busting a move or two, it becomes a problem for a lot of people to comprehend or even continue following that artist when s/he turns into a Dr Dolittle lookalike down the line. That will mean the fanbase of young ladies that filled up venues to watch and scream for that artist will be lost.

This is why in some countries record labels include clauses in some artist’s contracts that prohibits them from gaining the amount of weight that takes away their attractive shape which appeals to their fans. This is because these label bosses know that the looks compliment the music and the talent.

We have also on so many occasions heard a lot of Zambian artists
complaining about how Zambians don’t care about their own and how international artists are getting more respect,attention and money than them.This also ripples down to how you as an artist has conducted yourself not only as an artist but also as a brand,as your own business.

How do you expect to command pay that is anywhere near an international artist when in the past you have been known to perform for a crate of beer and a k1500,or you have done shows where people have attended for free,or you have failed to show up for shows after receiving advance payment. Just the conduct alone lowers your value as an artist and gives the promotor the power to dictate your value.

A few years back,our King of Hip Hop,Slap Dee refused to perform because the money he was being offered was way too little compared to an artist that was visiting. Some people criticized him.

But at the end of the day he proved them all wrong as he has shown how there is no victory to be found in playing small.Today we have all seen how his stock as a brand as risen as it visible in all the endorsements and high profile shows and collaboration.

As an artist,Work on things like staying in shape,looking good ,also rehearsing,setting the bar very high in terms of the value of your art,being able to put up performances that are good enough to rival international artist,organising the structure of the industry in our favor with things like managers,A & R,promoters and image builders that can work for us and not the other way round.

*Author Kelvin Musonda is a Zambian filmmaker,teacher,writer and data entry specialist

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31