'Zim musicians must collaborate with foreigners'

HARARE - MTV Base channel director, Tim Horwood, says Zimbabwean musicians will only have an impact beyond the country’s borders by collaborating with regional and international artistes.

Horwood said most of Africa’s top musicians have been involved in duets with established artistes from other countries.

“Just keep pushing to get your music out there; I believe we are at a point where African music is starting to find a voice that we are all sharing,” he said.

“I suggest collaboration; working with artistes who are established on a pan-African basis helps in pushing careers. You see someone like Diamond who is big in East Africa crossing over to Nigeria and  South Africa. He has done collaborations with Davido.

“Davido has collaborated with Mafikizolo to break into the South African market. Collaboration is the best way to introduce yourself to different markets,” he said.

Horwood said the entry of MTV Base in Africa in 2005 was act of bravery.

“At the time, there were not really many of the big international broadcasters, who were brave enough to come to Africa. We found when we launched that it was very much like Uganda’s music was being consumed by Ugandans; generally each country had their own scene with little crossovers. With the objective of trying to push the music globally, we took the approach that the continent needed to be behind these artistes not just your country.”

The MTV Base channel head added that the biggest challenge was to build an African music channel with the capacity to reach beyond South Africa.

“The sounds were quiet different and it was about trying to get everyone familiar with each other’s music. There were African music channels at the time but they weren’t really doing that; they were leaning heavily towards South African Music at the time. There was a lot of criticism on those channels that there was only South African music playing.

“The quality of videos was also a challenge. We had this 24-hour channel. We had amazing music but we did not have quality music videos, enough of them to really populate the channel. That is why we launched video workshops to try to upscale the industry,” he said.

Horwood believes that the broadcasting of MTV Africa Awards all over the world demonstrates that African music has entered the big league.

“We are having African playlists on MTV stations around the world. We see our mission as more than growing our own brand, but growing our Africa re-imagined brand. Africa re-imagined is an ethos we live by. The world is seeing a lot of war, famine and these are realities of the continent but there is also this thriving youth culture side; that is what we have been trying to put out and I think we are doing very well at it.”

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