CELEBRATED Belgium-based Rwandan musician, Faycal Ngeruka aka Kode has advised local musicians to invest in professional management of their talent. Kode is in the country to promote his new songs and to shoot videos for his upcoming album.
Kode argues that the biggest problem in Rwanda’s music industry is lack of proper structures and understanding between musicians and managers.
“When I got my manager, we clearly put everything on paper and defined what roles each one of us has to play. However, in Rwanda we have managers who don’t know what to do and musicians who are yet to understand that they can’t do everything,” said Kode.
He cited the example of Alex Muyoboke who has managed big artistes like Tom Close, Dream Boys and Urban Boyz but they have all since left him and are under new management now.
“I don’t know what the problem is but I think it has something to do with both parties not setting clear indications of what they expect from each other,” he said.
Kode was popularly known for singing at weddings, corporate events and karaoke sessions at Kigali Serena Hotel before he moved to Belgium. The seasoned musician is currently signed under Chan-son Records in Belgium.
In an interview with The New Times, Kode said poor management of talent in Rwanda is one of the reasons he decided to relocate to Belgium.
“It is an initiative that I took myself because I realised that I would never grow as an international artiste if I stayed in Rwanda. After taking part in the first Primus Guma Guma Super Star competition, I realised that this wasn’t my platform. After contacting several people abroad, I was connected to my current manager, Sonia Mutesi, and together we worked on getting a contract under a music label,” he said.
Kode noted that ever since he relocated he has a good contract and a hard working manager and this has made his work easier and he feels he is doing what he is supposed to be doing as a musician.
“All I have to do is wake up and go to the studio. For example, whenever I have a problem, my management team takes care of it other than running around trying to do everything myself. They are taking good care of me.” His statement led me to the issue about the lack of talent management in the music industry in Rwanda.
However, Kode noted that it’s not only managers that have to promote talent in the music industry; he noted that the media has a role to play too.
“We have a situation where radio airplay is 70 per cent foreign songs and 30 per cent local songs which is kind of a problem. There’s no way someone in Cyangugu will know about my music if my songs are not being played. I’m not saying that they should only play local songs but it would be good if the media would be fair enough to balance both sides.”
To this Kode adds that it creates a situation where musicians decide to perform at events since they will earn from them other than spend money recording songs which will not be played. On the other hand, musicians also need to work hard and promote their music too.
He warned musicians to stop the habit of being lazy thinking that everything will work out easily or someone else will do their work.
“For example, why is a talented young man like Hope Irakoze (Tusker Project Fame season 6 winner) singing karaoke at Kigali Serena Hotel? If you have been trained and have the exposure, capitalise on it and start working on your own projects,” the visibly disappointed Kode wonders.
Kode says in 2007 he went for the African Idol singing competitions in Nairobi and was among the top 10 artistes out of 25,000 people who were competing.
He says that although he didn’t win, the exposure gave him confidence to start working on big projects.
If an artiste records a song, he should take it to a media company for it to be played or have an article written about it but not to expect things to just happen, Kode advises.
The only problem with his example is that musicians have always complained about some members in the media who always ask for money to play artistes’ songs. And if an artiste doesn’t have enough money, their song might never make it to radio. When asked, Kode says that he blames musicians for actually agreeing to be part of this bad habit.
“Artistes should stop giving journalists money so as to have their songs played. If a journalist writes a nice article about me, I will call him and take him out for a drink as a way of appreciating his efforts and good work. I never encouraged that habit and I’m still against it. If some journalists don’t want to play my song, I’m sure there are others who are willing to do so.”
“I’m working on some projects and my management team will be coming on Tuesday next week. Since I returned I have recorded three songs so far; Ikirungo which I have already released, Hometown and Buracya Ryari which are already done and will be released soon. I’m planning on shooting videos after consultations with my management team.