For many years in Rwanda, the mainstream music industry was not appreciated. Musicians could not depend on music for a livelihood. However, today, the business seems to be promising, with the government intervening and a few corporate companies beginning to show interest in supporting the artistes.
Although the situation is improving, many upcoming artistes still find it difficult to make it in the music industry.
What is the biggest challenge young and potential talented musicians face when trying to venture into music? Is it lack of finances? Is it inability to compete in terms of quality songs and stage performances? Or getting a fair deal with the promoters?
This is the dilemma that faces many musicians, and the financial obstacles facing upcoming artistes are many. The New Times interviewed a cross section of artistes about the issue:
Maureen Mbabazi, aka Momo
Momo has three songs to her name. She says most of the time music producers and promoters take advantage of the situation and demand for sexual favours with promises to support us.
“If you fall for their traps, you end up being used and in turn they even don’t promote your songs.”
Gerald Kayitana, aka Alistide
Alistide is a local upcoming Afro-R&B artiste and has four songs to his name. The Come to Me, singer laments that upcoming artistes are not recognised. “Rwanda’s music industry is still small and unfortunately people despise upcoming artistes.”
“It’s not easy to get our music played on the radio stations because even presenters are only interested in playing songs of famous musicians.”
Ainee Kamikazi Ishimwe, aka Davilla
Davilla cites the lack of funding as her major obstacle; - “It is difficult to find a good promoter who can get us good and regular engagements.”
“My music is very good and well received by audiences whenever we play a gig. Yet it is very difficult to break through these barriers.”
She also decries lack of support from artistes that have made it in the business, “I wish to make collabos with big artistes in this country but they often don’t give us the chance to work with them-yet we think that they should be supporting us as their sisters and brothers in this industry.” Davilla also noted that upcoming musicians are often exploited by seasoned artistes.
“These big artistes sometimes call us to curtain raise at their concerts but they don’t pay because they think that they’re giving us exposure, forgetting that we spend money to record the songs.”
Juniors Kent is music group composed of Angelo Parcoeur and Murphy Lee. The duo says their main challenge is lack of a manager to promote their music.
The group says that if they could get sponsors or a manager to promote their music, it would help them to grow their music career.
Grace Abayizera, alias Young Grace
Young Grace is an upcoming rapper. She says that despite their struggle to penetrate into the business, people seem not to understand that even those famous artistes started from down. It’s also a challenge for us to get funds to record and launch our music albums.
The In the Party singer calls on the Ministry for Youth and Information Communication Technology (ICTs) and companies to support the un-known talent.