IT has been over 27 years of Namibians being able to express themselves creatively, through various art forms, with the most sough-after career in the arts evidently being the music profession.
However, very few artists actually make a proper living out of their craft, and it seems like the local industry itself has not made sufficient strides to gain a foothold in the international music scene.
This may just be my opinion, but institutions like the Namibian Society of Composer and Authors of Music (NASCAM), which is supposedly administering the rights of authors, composers and publishers of music, has not done nearly enough to fully regulate or ensure that no copyrights are infringed. NASCAM has more often than not shifted the blame to local radio stations for not giving them enough money to pay artists on a yearly basis, which means that NASCAM can only pay royalties to musicians every three years.
Although this is only one source of income for Namibian musicians, NASCAM can better regulate the music industry for musicians to get paid more. Another pressing issue is the late payment, or on some occasions, the non-payment of artists by promoters, events managers and other companies that book musicians.
Over the past year, a couple of artists, including local superstar Young-T and one third of the Savannah Afro’s band, Tapz Munya, have both taken to social media to criticise the University of Namibia (Unam) Cultural Department for not paying them for their performances at the 2017 UNAM Cultural Festival.
This is just two examples, but the complaints have been plenty.
Although the Namibian Annual Music Awards (NAMAs) play a major role in motivating and rewarding musicians for the work they have done over the year, the money goes to very few musicians, and to add insult to injury, musicians do not get compensated for performances at the awards show.
The lack of funds on the local music scene makes it terribly difficult for musicians to sell, distribute and even market their music for a profit, because there are no reputable and experienced music labels or companies to provide credible record sales reports for musicians to know exactly how many copies they sold, both physically and digitally. This begs the question: Who are the music industry gatekeepers?
Or is the music industry just one big mess?
Namibia also does not have institutions that hand out music recording certifications, which are typically awarded by the global music industry, based on the total units sold or shipped to the retailers. For example, in the United States, you have to sell 500 000 copies to reach gold status and in South Africa it is 15 000, but in Namibia, no such system exists.
It is quite tough to blame a single entity for the lack of a fruitful economy in the arts, but our neighbour, South Africa, has had similar problems, and quickly turned the tide for local musicians on local mediums, such as the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), by playing 90 percent local music content on radio stations. Namibia might as well do the same thing, and it may just be the answer to all the problems faced by many talented
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015