Expert Opinion on The Namibian Music Industry (Part 2)

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By John Walenga In essence, the whole concept of Omalaeti is built on social responsibilities. The main players are artists whom we take literally from the street and give them a second chance in life. Others would have done it under a trust or under the auspices of a non-governmental organisation. We try as far as possible to plough back all our income in the music industry. Thus making a significant contribution to the development of the Namibian culture. INDIVIDUAL & CORPORATE NAMIBIA There are some companies and individuals who are genuinely enriching the Namibian Music industry. And there are those on both scores who have adopted an attitude of wait and see. The latter are the ones who are a potential danger to the industry. Members of the Public On the scale of things, individuals genuinely contribute to the growth of the Music industry than corporate Namibia. The public buys original CDs because it speaks to them in many ways. It fulfils their entertainment needs. It consoles them. For the same reason they are prepared to spend a dollar or two for musical shows. Satisfaction is what they expect more than anything else. And for that they budget. Note here that I am deliberately overlooking thugs who are making copies of our CDs and the ignorant individuals buying them. The latter can only be fully exhausted under its paper. Corporate Namibia With few exceptions here and there, we are yet to come across any corporate Namibia genuinely ploughing money in the industry because of ‘the love of Namibian music’. Why would they do it without a quidproquo? The one million dollar question is: who does something for Punyu? It begs for a billion dollar answer, NOBODY. That is no reason for corporate Namibia to abuse local artists. There are companies prepared to invest thousands of dollars in artists from far away places and spend change on local artists. Listen to this; a certain company was hosting an annual music festival in the north of Windhoek. Their drawing card artist was an import Kwaito artist from South Africa. That company spent more than N$ 50 000 on that back track artists. They were wise enough to include Namibian artists. The marketing manager of that company almost jumped out of her skin when I advanced to her company a quotation of N$ 5 000.00 only for Boeti & Janice. You do not want to hear her point of argument. Hear me out. I fanatically cherish and respect culture including from far away places. What I do not and will never accept is for somebody to put change on my culture and a top dollar on a foreign culture. That is insulting and demeans my culture. The truth is: the money is generated from you and me. Its you and me who vote to guarantee peace and tranquillity which enables companies of this nature to thrive. And the worst part of it is the fact that this company in question is enjoying protection from our government and yet. The bottom line is companies get far more mileage from ‘sponsorship’ than artists. In the end it’s more of a marketing strategy than social responsibility. I recently attended a presentation at a given company (on something different). Out of the blue a senior manager angrily vomited out his frustration. “It pains me when people don’t accept as to why we have a policy against the Namibian music industry,” says the manager. Calling on my ancestors to calm me, I indicated that I would want to arrange for another appointment to be educated more as to what militated the company to arrive at such a policy. “People must just accept that its our prerogative to invest in industries of our choice just like we have refused to sponsor fish angling which is one of the best in the world,” fumed the manager in a tone of a colonial master. (Such a tone can be advanced by anybody be it white or black).”In any case which artist do we sponsor?” he question further. I almost reminded him that the development of the industry is bigger than an artist. That is how my idea to request for another meeting was dismissed. The very same company is pushing down our throats musical ring tones (at a cost) from far way places. That was my experience with the private sector. Parastatals I once wrote to different companies soliciting for funds to embark on an ambitious musical concept which I baptised 21 Much…. Not that I expected all the companies to reply positively. However, what shocked me was the fact that the emphatic NO reply came within five minutes of sending my fax. This guy stooped so low. Because, two days earlier I differed with him on something totally not related. That kind of approach and the few positive replies I received were enough inspiration for Omalaeti to drop 21 Much album under budget. More on that is on the CD cover of the same. Government Again, during the era of Boeti & Janice, a government official called me a day before the Independence Day Celebrations for their performances for free. I refused. My position was informed by the fact that Boeti & Janice were expected to show case their talent in the name of patriotism for free while other artists were paid. This was partly simply because some of the committee members who happened to be connected to some chosen artists wanted to make sure that the pair were painted bad. I reminded the government official to show me where in the constitution it’s scribed that some people are more equal than others. If not, why should the pair show their patriotism for free while others are paid? At that point he threatened me further by saying I am committing a political suicide. Whether the promise was executed or not, I survived to pen the encounter for you. Can Omalaeti Artists Ever Perform For Free? Depending on the nature of the event, our artists do perform at birthday and wedding parties even at funerals. We have performed at many occasions for free. What we do not allow is for somebody to decide non-payment without our consent. We have set fees ranging from a one-song performance to a full show. Thus check with us next time before you decide what our artists are worth. Why? For the same reason you do not decide your doctor or lawyer fees. Recording Studio We produce most of our work from Omalaeti Studio based at a village called Oshitapo near Ondangwa at the border of Oshana and Oshikoto Regions. For a different flavour, we have so far collaborated with equally top producers including Trace, Elvo and Steven. Omalaeti is going to strengthen the music-publishing department by buying albums and songs from other artists and producers for further publishing as long as their work meets our quality.