Music is big business in Tanzania, when done right; it can become quite lucrative to those bold and creative enough to bank from the entertainment trade. Bongo flava has become East Africa’s favourite genre, while at the same time captivating the hearts of fans from across the African continent. It is due to such expansion that our local musicians become scrutinized on how they lead their lives.
We are used to seeing big artists from the US, or maybe we might not even need to go that far; here in Africa we’ve seen Nigerian artists such as Davido and Wizkid flaunting their wealth on social media. And even though one might claim that Davido has been brought up in wealth thanks to his father, he has still made a tremendous amount of money by doing music.
At the age of 27, Wizkid is not only the biggest act in African music, but he is also among the wealthiest musicians in the continent. Forget about the claim that Nigerian music has dominated the African airwaves, making money from music goes beyond singing; it is affiliated to one’s business acumen.
Tanzania still has a lot of ground to cover to be considered a global success in music. Earlier this year Forbes released a list of African musicians who make the most money, not a single name from Tanzania could be traced among those listed. This served as an indication that our artistes still have a lot of work to do to uplift the status of their industry.
With an ever-growing number of musicians making an entrance in to the business, competition for success has become stiff. Some artistes who were considered underground musicians a few years back have now skyrocketed to stardom and are among heavyweights in the game.
But today’s music industry is different from what existed 15 to 20 years ago. Today’s market is very reactive but at the same time very predictable. Artists who started the game in the early days are now seen as nonentities due to dismal monetary returns they were availed to from making music. As their names withered, so did the respect that was once bestowed upon them, they failed to act like role models for the future generation. Save for a few celebrities, most musicians lived pitiful lives that had no consolation for the hard work they were putting in to make great music. And even those who had high pecuniary rewards ended up squandering all their hard earned money – see the likes of Mr Nice and Saida Karoli as examples.
So what had to be done to change the financial rewards that our artistes receive from doing music? It didn’t take a panel of experts on business to shade some light on what was a grim situation, a mere glimpse to the West and South of Africa was enough to serve as a lesson.
Today we have artists who are making good money from doing music. These are the artists who’ve managed to change the scale of success and brightened the perception of our local musicians. Even with a majority of local artistes still depending on shows to generate an income, there are the ‘elites’ who have found a way to bank on their fame by engaging in different businesses that are not related to music. This means that even when they retire, they will not be subject to a life of poverty and ridicule.
At the top of our list is Naseeb Abdul aka Diamond Platnumz, at the age of 27, Diamond has managed to attain success in music that is unprecedented in Tanzania. Even though it can be claimed that there are musicians with more gifted voices than his right here in Tanzania, none of them come close in comparison when it comes to success as an artiste. He started his own record label called Wasafi Classic Baby (WCB) and has since signed a number of artistes under his wing. Among such artistes are Rich Mavoko, Harmonize and Rayvanny. Today, WCB is one of the most recognizable music labels in Tanzania and beyond.
Chibu perfume – apart from having his own record label, Diamond Platnumz started a line of his own cologne. The positively received Chibu perfume is sold in most parts of the country, and even exported to Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Diamond Karanga – the latest in what seems to be a growing list of business ventures under Diamond’s brand is Diamond Karanga – coated peanuts sold at Sh300 per pack. Dimaond Karanga has become people’s favourite.
Second on our list is Juma Jux. His African Boy T-shirt brand is perhaps the most recognizable apparel brand owned by an artiste. He has managed to penetrate through an industry that a number of artistes have put a foot in, and succeeded. African Boy T-shirts can be found in many stores around the country. Jux has succeeded at advertising his brand through social media and garnered the support from fellow musicians who’ve helped to push sales.
Ali Kiba – the ‘king’ as his fans like to call him is not left behind when it comes to having business ventures outside his music career- his started an apparel line branded with his ‘King’ signature which has done relatively well in the market. Apart from that, he recently became one of the directors at Africa Rockstar 4000, an entertainment company that manages artistes and creates media content.
Vanessa Mdee – Vee Money aka Cash Madame, as she likes to be called has become a force to be reckoned with not only in the music industry, but also the business side of it. She has started her own record label called Mdee Music and has so far signed two artistes under her label (Mimi Mars and Brian Simba). She too has a clothing line with the signature of ‘Cash Madame’ imprinted on the tops. Vanessa is a Jack of all trades; music isn’t her only talent, she is also an actress and has played a role in the popular Kenyan series Shuga.
Aika – The other half of Navy Kenzo is doing well for herself. She’s part of the founders of a record label called The Industry which she operates with her partner Nahreel. Apart from that, she has her online store ‘Aika Stores’ that sells jewellery and beauty necessities.
Nahreel – The mastermind behind some of Tanzania’s big hits has founded what is today one of the most successful record labels in the country. The Industry, a label he founded with Aika is doing well and has so far signed two artistes under its wing.
Shetta – recently it has become apparent that Shetta is doing well for himself. The Bongo Flava artiste has been seen vacationing in Europe and making lavish appearances at parties both locally and abroad. Well Baba Qyla has always been on top of fashion trends, his ‘Shetta Showbiz Clothing Line’ has one of the best and comfortable suits and sweat shirts.
Shilole – Badgirlshishi as she is popularly known by her vocal fans has been playing her game smart. The artiste, who’s never short of controversies decided to start her own food business. She started ‘Shishi Trump Food’, a food service which deals in catering and serves as a restaurant as well. Since she started, her business has gained popularity and is doing quite well.
Nay wa Mitego – the controversial rapper is known for his many business ventures which have made him one of the most successful artistes in the game. Apart from owning his own recording studio, Nay owns a number of barber shops and local transportation means within the city.