Zimbabwe: Foreign-based artists lament lack of airplay

Zimbabwean musicians based in the diaspora have lamented a lack of airplay on local radio stations. Their music, they say, has not received media attention, even at the request of fans resident in the country.

Zimbabwean radio DJ Eskay. Photo: Youth Village Zimbabwe
Zimbabwean radio DJ Eskay. Photo: Youth Village Zimbabwe

“We depend on the local radio stations to push our works in the local market,” said Pastor Tongai Kapinga, an artist based in the UK who has released his first album Mutichengetewo. “We need them to play our music.”

Kapinga has since engaged Diamond Studios to market and distribute his album. “Apart from the radio stations I have also roped in the services of Diamond Studios for the marketing and distribution of the music,” he added.

Nkosi Ka Ndlovu, who is also based in the UK and has released three albums, agrees with Kapinga, saying, “Our appeal is to the radio stations to play our music so that people can get to know it. Social media has been instrumental yes but radio stations still have the power because they reach almost everyone.”

A producer at UK­ based Healing Hands Recording Studios said local radio stations plays a big role in promoting music.

“They (musicians) need to be promoted by local radio stations,” says Enock Kamhiriri, a producer at the UK-based Healing Hands Recording Studios. “We appeal to them to play the music and promote them.”

Complaints from these artists is partly because Zimbabwean radio stations play foreign artists—so long as the music is from such acts as Beyoncé and Chris Brown. It is also partly because Zimbabwean artists in the diaspora do not receive airplay on foreign radio stations.

Radio presenters have, however, countered suggestions that the lack of airplay is attributable to discrimination. “We promoted Lamont Chitepo who is based in the UK,” says Star FM’s Pathisani Sibanda. “If you do not bring your CDs to us then we have nothing to play.”

Diamond FM manager, Leander Kandiero, supports Sibanda’s claim, saying, “We want to play more of our own music, but we cannot look for them, they should bring their music to us.”

This article was originally published in The Herald on 17 January 2017.

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