Gospel Mata Muvandimwe, popularly known as Stanza Mata in the world of Afro-fusion and folk, recently changed his genre to Afro-pop as he believes it is what sells more. The 26-year-old believes that Afro-pop as a genre has the biggest audience and attention in Rwanda. “I have decided to change my style from the fusion and Afro-fusion styles that I was doing since 2017, when I did my first recording. I never thought I would change my mind and join popular styles which are Afro-pop,” he said. Mata explains that changing to Afro-pop from Afro-fusion or jazz was not because those styles cannot sell well, given that there are still a lot of artistes who are still performing them well in the global music market, but as far as the Rwandan music market and African music market, in general are concerned, he had to change to the popular afro-beat because it is the genre with the biggest audience. “I needed to join it so as to benefit from that audience, and as a professional songwriter I was starting to lose the market because my clients were looking for modern afro pop compositions and it was starting to get hard for me to win their trust, so I had to switch genres,” he explained. “When I was still doing the afro-fusion, jazz style I faced a lot of challenges while promoting my music, for example, I also shifted because a lot of requests, first from my old style audience, second from music promoters like DJs, radio presenters and event organisers who said it’s not easy for them to promote my music in unless am doing Afro-pop. That shows that people are rooting for these popular styles,” he added. He, however, believes that the problem was not the style that he was doing, instead he also wanted a change that engages his audience more. “The environment and the experience were quite good while making a composition for Afro-fusion because that is my genre and the eminent passion for it and satisfying the narrow audience that I had was the best part of it. But people pay much respect to your name because you’re trying to bring in something almost new and others refer to you as a genius and a risk taker, so I said to myself let me take the risk,” he adds. On the one hand, the support was not enough to motivate Mata to stick only to the Afro-fusion style that he was doing. “From the audience being limited, to the media being very selective to the kind of music they deliver to the public, the promoters seeing it as a fatal risk to spotlight non popular genres artists in their events, as well as artists managers who barely feel interested in investing in less popular music, makes it difficult to keep up with the genre,” he said. So far, Mata has already put out three songs of the Afro-pop style, ‘Polite’, ‘Akumiro’, and ‘Vumilia’, he was also featured on the VOA’s music time in Africa show, where he shared his journey of him shifting genres. The journey has not been easy for Mata but he believes that changing genres also gives him the opportunity to explore the music world more and to gain more exposure in his career. “To be frank, I don’t expect much simply because I joined afro pop. Every success requires hard work because Afro-pop artists in Rwanda face challenges too. It’s not guaranteed that doing Afro-pop equals being widely recognised. But the difference between the popular and less popular style of music on the scene of our country’s music industry is plainly visible, so many advantages and easy ways to shine while making popular music compared to the opposite genres,” he shared.