'Record studios no longer viable'

HARARE - Music piracy and the difficult economic situation prevailing in the country are threatening the viability of record company businesses.

Emion Sibindi, Metro Studios’ director said since 2004, they had cut their workforce by 50 percent so as to sustain operations.

Sibindi told the Daily News that as a result of the economic challenges faced over the past few years, they now heavily rely on selling and hiring out their public address (PA) system to get money.

“Things have not been going well for us, and the rest of the music industry as a whole. We cut on the staff that we had as we could not afford their salaries.

“Piracy is one of the major contributing factors to this loss of jobs for both our employees as well as the musicians. Business is no longer good as we cannot sell as much as we used to, in fact we are losing business to the smaller studios. We have employees that we had to let go because we could no longer pay them,” he said.

Selling music is no longer a lucrative  business as it used to be with studios even affording to buy houses for musicians.

Early last year, sungura artiste Taruvinga Manjokoto popularly known as Shuga Shuga jumped ship to record in South Africa.

In an earlier interview with the Daily News, Sibindi said the economy had to recover first for artistes to start benefitting.

“Production levels have gone down, the main reason being piracy followed by the economic hardships. Music is considered a luxury by most people so when people are struggling financially, it is the last thing on their minds. They put shelter and food first and music comes last.

“If we try and compare with the time that piracy was minimal and the economy was reasonably stable, when a top artiste was releasing, we were able to produce about 30 000 cassettes in advance that would be bought in one day. But now we would be lucky if we sell 1 000 CDs.

“The problem is that the first few people who come and buy are the music pirates themselves. So you find that on the day of release by mid-morning pirated copies of the original will be on sale in town.”

Metro Studios along with Gramma, Ngaavongwe, ZMC and RTP have been losing business to the small emerging studios which charge as little as $10 for a song.

Metro is not the only studio that has suffered the pinch, with ZMC’s premises now housing a bakery and the inscriptions are still there, maybe posing hope that it will be revived.

Ngaavongwe, ZMC and Gramma recording studios are owned by Elias Musakwa a gospel musician-turned-politician.


    Comments (1)

    dem wanna be rich over night zeen,backyard studios in di ghetto a big way to go i tell yah

    big linx - 28 January 2015

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