Zimdancehall turns to barter trade

HARARE - Stung by Zimbabwe’s deteriorating economic situation that has seen many artistes failing to afford studio time, zimdancehall musicians and producers have resorted to barter trade to keep the genre alive.

Mbare-based ChillSpot Records, that has recorded hits by top zimdancehall stars like Soul Jah Love, Killer T, Seh Calaz and many others, is among small recording entities that have been forced to resort to barter trade to stay afloat.

The recording studio records popular and big musicians for free, and in return the zimdancehall stars will perform for free when ChillSpot Records organises launch concerts for new riddims.

DJ Levelz, a resident producer at ChillSpot Records alongside DJ Fantan, told the Daily News on Sunday that the barter trade arrangement was proving to be mutually beneficial.

“We don’t really have a problem my sister. At times the artistes don’t have money to pay for studio time, so we sign contracts with them that oblige them to come and perform for free when we launch a riddim. We take the entire gate takings and at the end of the day everyone wins,” said Levelz.

Levelz was, however, quick to point out that the ‘barter trade arrangement’ was only for big stars.

“We do this for big artistes, but for the upcoming ones unfortunately we can’t; they have to pay. The reason being they are not drawcards yet so we can’t get anything from concerts full of upcoming artistes,” he explained.

DJ Fantan also gave thumbs up to the arrangement.

“They (zimdancehall stars)  just say I don’t have money to pay for studio time, so you will be forced to make them record  and then contract them to perform at our riddim launch,” he told the Daily News on Sunday.

“We get the gate takings and at times it’s more rewarding. That’s why we don’t have a problem with the arrangement. We launch riddims once every three months.”

So rewarding has been the arrangements that Levelz recently managed to purchase a housing stand in Southlea Park.

“We are doing well. I actually bought a stand in Southlea Park, that’s where I am staying now. I moved from Mbare a few months ago though some people don’t even know that as I am always here (Mbare),” said Levelz.

“Our studio used to be in Fantan’s bedroom but he has now moved to another flat here in Mbare.

So you see why I am saying the arrangement is working for us.”

This barter trade system seems to have its own problems. In September last year Winky Dee refused to perform at ChillSpot’s Mad Levels Riddim launch. The Ninja President never showed up and insisted that he had not signed a contract with the fledgling Mbare recording studio.

Even though Levelz and Fantan insisted that they had no payment problems with zimdancehall artistes the same cannot be said of other emerging producers

Award-winning zimdancehall promoter Hillary ‘Punchline’ Mutake told the Daily News on Sunday that many artistes in the genre were failing to pay for studio time.

“The upcoming producers are having problems with artistes who do not want to pay, especially the big artistes. They come in and record; have hit songs but don’t pay for studio time. Most of them earn over $1000 per show, but they don’t bother paying,” Mutake said.

“I have been inundated with calls and messages from producers asking me to help them. Most of the times they are left with no choice because they want to market themselves, so they end up recording someone who already owes them. I can’t mention names as they are afraid that they will lose business, but the Zimdancehall industry has been plagued by this.”

Comments (1)

zim dance mangoma kuvanhu artist shld be patient zvichafaya

zim mangoma - 7 July 2015

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