Shifting the Blame

WHY are Namibian musicians constantly broke? I don’t believe the answer is as simple as a small population. I think many factors contribute to musicians’ permanently empty wallets, one of which is the role the media plays.


We are led to believe that the media is very supportive of our local artists, almost as if it’s doing them a favour, but if you dig deeper into the issue, you begin to realise that it is the artists that are (unsuspectingly) doing the favours.

Yes, today I’m going to stop ranting about the incompetence of our local musicians and focus instead on the incompetence of our entertainment media.

From gossip pages that make musicians look like some kind of clowns, CD reviewers who never criticise an album for fear of “hurting someone’s feelings”, to radio stations that force artists to pay in order to have a half-an-hour interview and biased TV stations.

The media might claim to support struggling musicians but in reality, they exploit them ruthlessly.

For instance, let’s look at TV stations. Why is it that we still don’t have a local channel that caters entirely for entertainment? We clearly have enough music videos on the market for such a channel and the demand is there.

I heard NBC say for the first time that they are planning to launch such a channel in 2004 – eight years on and still there is no change. I for one am sick of empty promises.

Wouldn’t it be nice to go to a club, bar or restaurant and have a local music channel play on the big screen TV instead of the South African Channel 0? Wouldn’t that show true Namibian pride?

Instead, we have Watagwan – a show that aims to promote and support all Namibian arts, namely music, dance and acting but falls short on all three counts. At least they try and their end game is sincere.

They give a platform to budding artists from all over the country. What about our nly Music Video Countdown that airs every Saturday on One Africa? How does it help our musicians?

For one, if your music video is on the Countdown, it may not play simultaneously on the One Africa rotation system (whereby they play music videos randomly during commercials).

So instead of your music video airing four or five times a week it only airs once. Also your music video MUST debut on the countdown in order for them to play it.

If there is a waiting period of say three weeks, you have a perfectly ready music video just lying around.

These rules don’t benefit musicians. Fine, exploit artists, business is business, but don’t claim afterwards that you are promoting local musicians. No wonder we hardly have a chance to see any music videos.

Did you know that EeS has 38 music videos? How many have you seen? We still have radio stations that refuse to play local music. International artists dominate our biggest concerts.

Newspapers have two pages of entertainment, half of which is international. There is no club in Windhoek that plays local music.

Yet we blame artists for not being innovative enough?

I think musicians are doing a pretty good job, considering the resources they have to work with. So the next time you want to blame our local musicians for underachieving, remember – they give no quarter and they ask for none either.

Was I spot on or dead wrong?

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The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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