It pays to release single records

HARARE - The popularity of the duet single Vanondibatirana by singer Fungisai Zvakavapano-Mashavave and Killer T has proved that single record releases can even have a higher market impact than full length albums.

I would also want to believe that a video to this song could also have been a hit on television and even claim its share on the stores.

As a music promoter, I have observed the trend nowadays by even well-established artistes like Oliver Mtukudzi, Jah Prayzah and Suluman Chimbetu among others who have collaborated with other musicians so as to release single records.

In Zimbabwe, the duet singles have been popular within the Zimdancehall music circuit and their release has propelled otherwise unknown voices emanating from out ghettos.

As for the upcoming musicians, I believe it is wise for them to opt at working on a single record first, test the market and then after say releasing five singles then record a full album.

It is cheaper to release a single record that can be accompanied by a supporting video than try to record six to 10 songs which costs a lot of money. In recording a single record, a musician has all the time to polish his or her work to perfection than try and rush things by recording too many songs to make up album.

In most of the released full albums, you would find that in fact at least one song from the whole record might be good and the rest seem like they were recorded to fill the album.

A single-record release will also easily get quick attention at radio stations because most of the time if you give DJs a full album, they just play one song, mostly the first song and ignore the rest.

Notwithstanding, the more established singers like Mtukudzi, Alick Macheso, Leonard Zhakata, Jah Prayzah or Suluman Chimbetu can easily release full albums on which you can pick more than one song as a favourite.

But is it the upcoming singers that I have in mind, those still starting and believe they have the talent but are limited in terms of resources to record more songs.

Studios are quite expensive and a musician has to hire a competent engineer and producer, all which will cost quite a lot of money for any upstart musician because he/she will also have to pay for rehearsals with a full band.

Unfortunately, most of the upcoming musicians do not have instruments of their own, nor do they have any rehearsal rooms — so they have to pay for everything and grouping all the aforementioned technical team to record five or six songs is not easy.

The other group of musicians — Mtukudzi, Macheso, Zhakata, Chimbetu and Jah Prayzah are lucky because they own music instruments and have rehearsal space where they meet every day to rehearse, hence working on their sound.

The problem for upcoming musicians is the limited time they have to rehearse together and surely they cannot manage to hire the studios and engineers for hours on end as they record.

Happily for some of these upcoming singers, the computer has come to their aid as most instruments are now being mastered easily, but even in this situation that software to record has to come from a studio that will charge them.

While Macheso and Zhakata have in recent years taken time to record new albums, both releasing after more than four years, they should have been releasing single records just for radio so as to keep the momentum up. It works — I have seen it work overseas.

The likes of Macheso and Zhakata are not entirely new to releasing single records because when they started their careers that is what they used to do; release single records.

And I believe in the power of single records, just like in overseas markets, it comes through duets or collaborations and it has kept most of these popular singers dominating the markets although they would not have released full albums.

The advantage of overseas markets, something which we should work on, is that they have for years been selling individual songs online and there is big business along those lines.

Zimbabwe has to move and introduce this facility although others are already doing it I believe it is not being done openly as participating singers are always crying foul.


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