'Time for cassettes, CDs is fast waning'

HARARE - Jive Zimbabwe has emerged as one of the leading arts promotion organisations in Zimbabwe.

An increasing number of artistes have joined the company’s online music sales platform.

The Daily News on Sunday’ Sharon Muguwu (SM) recently spoke to Jive Zimbabwe founder Benjamin Nyandoro (BN) on the operations of his organisation and its flagship online music store in particular.

SM: Briefly describe your career path from your first job to present day.

BN: I hold an honours degree in civil and water engineering from National University of Science and Technology, certificates for Internet and Web design, another in Research Methods, and one in Project Management with University of Zimbabwe and a Masters Degree in Public Sector Management with Africa University.

I am currently reading for a doctorate in Renewable Energy. My first job was in 2006, in Botswana working as the site engineer with a contracting company. Currently I lead a number of projects, among them Jive Zimbabwe.

SM: Given the fact that your professional and academic experience is mostly in areas that have nothing to do with music, how did you get involved in this initiative?

BN: My first inspiration to take on local music to the next step was Suluman Chimbetu. Of course I listened to music generally, but when I attended my first ever Sulu’s gig at Lion King in Harare in 2009, I was moved and more so, saw opportunities for growth.

What I came up with is more than just commercial arts promotion; it is working with an artiste back to back for mutual growth and long term benefit.

SM: What exactly do you do at Jive Zimbabwe and how many employees do you have?

BN: Jive Zimbabwe is primarily an online music store www.jivezimbabwe.com that through a number of promotional activities directs efforts towards inculcating a culture of buying local music online.

Jive Zimbabwe employs up to eight young people. It offers free promotional activities, among them, a robust entertainment diary, artist profiling, arts news, and social media blitz on gigs.

SM: What brought about this idea?

BN: The world is going digital. The arts industry has suffered in a way, through people cross-sharing products with no revenue coming to the artiste.

The digital age has availed opportunities for artistes to access a wider market through the World Wide Web (www). Selling music online coupled with aggressive marketing, increases target reach.

In Zimbabwe this may not successfully happen now, but is inevitable. Jive Zimbabwe is already selling music online, with most sales coming from Zimbabweans in Europe.

SM: How many artistes do you work with and how do they benefit from Jive Zimbabwe?

BN: I work with all local artistes. There are those who are more aggressive and tie down Jive Zimbabwe to do more, but Jive Zimbabwe’s services are available to all.

Many of the services are automated, such as the artists profiling. An artiste has to complete a form on Jive Zimbabwe website. Artistes do not necessarily need to physically visit our offices to enjoy Jive Zimbabwe services.

SM: Are you engaged at any international platform?

BN: I have initiated conversation with iTunes through Solution Centre to become a preferred local partner. Of course the downside is that at the moment our products are a drop in the ocean on iTunes.

That is why I believe in developing a specific platform that consciously drive local product for greater consumption by the international market.

Jive Zimbabwe is a member of the International Arts Day celebrated yearly on October 25. Our inaugural participation at the celebration was in 2014.

SM:  How do people purchase the music?

BN: There are many exciting ways to purchase music online. There is a link on the website that details “HowStuffWorks”.

First you listen to the music, select and checkout. On checkout, you set up your account, and this is done once.

Setting up an account will allow you to manage your downloads better. After setting up an account, you get options on payment method. There is Master Card, Visa Card, PayPal, and the Ecocash Master Card.

Jive Zimbabwe is currently working on the integration with Econet Wireless Zimbabwe to allow payments using Ecocash.

SM: Who is your target market and how do you make it easier for them to buy the music because it is not everyone who has a visa or MasterCard in Zimbabwe?

BN: The target market is greater Zimbabwe, meaning locals and Zimbabwean in the Diaspora. This should then grow to target the entire world.

SM: What do you think is deterring them from joining your online platform?

BN: Many are still very sceptical and aloof to contemporary practices. Time for vinyl discs, cassettes, and even CDs is fast waning, with the emergence of digital form.

Artistes especially at their gigs should encourage people to go online and buy their music. I have experiences with some of the signed up artistes not even mentioning that their music is available on Jive Zimbabwe.

SM: Isn’t it difficult for an artiste to get noticed because of the barrage of bands competing on the same market?

BN: It is now easier to get your music out there. With the online music store, more artistes are discovered.

But in the end artistes have to prove their quality in this highly competitive environment.

SM: Is music distribution your primary business?

BN: Online music distribution is the primary business.

SM: Do you take any portion of the sales revenue your music generates from distribution?

BN: The beauty of the application that Jive Zimbabwe developed is that it gives a lot of rights to the artistes.

The artiste uploads his/her own music allowing the artist to monitor all sales.

Further the application immediately splits the sales to show what is due to the artiste and what is due to Jive Zimbabwe.

First in Zimbabwe, Jive Zimbabwe settles all payments in Zimbabwe with a local bank.

SM: Do you offer publishing administration to help you collect your worldwide songwriter/publisher royalties?

BN: This is one aspect I believe Zimura is doing well. It is not in our near future plans, but is something to consider.

I am planning to meet Zimura to find those complementaries in our effort to take local arts to greater heights.

SM: How old are you? Do you have a family, are you married?

BN: I am 33, married and blessed with a girl and a boy.

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