When the National Arts Council launched the Tanzania Music Awards in 1999, it was one of many music-centric telecasts that doled out awards and irreverence equally.
At that point, apart from the international awards such as the MTV’s Video Music Awards, the Kora Awards, there were others in the neighborhood such as the Kisima Music Awards in Kenya and PAM in Uganda.
The awards were a celebration of the birth of a new genre christened Bongo Flava in Tanzania.
It has been six years since the last Kilimanjaro Tanzania Music Awards (KTMA) were held at the Mlimani City Conference Hall; the pomp and pageantry that accompanied the coronation of the best was a scene that the industry had become accustomed to. On such nights, the city’s glitterati converged, for that was the moment to stand up and get counted.
The drama that often accompanied the ceremonies long before the age of social media was quite mouth watering, from the fashion sense to the speeches.
The 15 years of the awards night had seen many come and go as it became a point of reference in every artiste’s career.
Those were the nights that every artiste and those who earned their bread through music looked forward to with glee.
The events that followed afterwards were always interesting, especially as some got the bragging rights over their peers.
Truth be told, the Kilimanjaro Music Awards were far from a complete item that was still struggling to gain its footing.
However, the abrupt hiatus that has taken six years is yet to be explained by Basata and the void left by sponsors Kilimanjaro is yet to be filled.
Worse still, it remains a mystery as to when the next awards night shall take place.
There are some who have either from a miss informed point of view bragged that the industry does not need the awards to prosper.
They believe that Bongo Flava as a genre is doing just fine even without the ceremonies, forgetting that these awards offered the only opportunity to celebrate our creative geniuses.
Does it pay?
Many have in the past wondered if artists get paid for winning awards and performing at such awards ceremonies given the kind of pomp that is associated with it.
“At awards such as BET , Kora and MTV Africa we don’t get paid to perform there instead you have to use it as mileage to improve the commercial side of your music and that is why you have to put your best foot forward,” Diamond once told The Citizen.
Contrary to the practice elsewhere, in the nascent days of the KTMA artistes were paid for every win but this was later stopped and instead they had to settle for the winners’ tour which was equally lucrative.
At the Grammys it turns out that the Beyoncé’s and Rihanna’s of the world who cash in millions don’t get paid a cent when they grace the esteemed ceremony.
They don’t get a check for winning either; but those golden trophies could auction off for a hefty amount of dollars should they ever need the funds.
The live event is far from a loss though. Forbes reports that performers and producers see a Grammy Bounce’ of at least 55 per cent in concert ticket sales and producer fees during the year following a Grammy win. David Banner says that his producer fee jumped from $50,000 to $100,000 after his work on Lil Wayne’s single “Lollipop.”
What happens after?
The mere association to the Grammy’s or such awards, however, does fatten their wallets long after the special airs. And just as it is in the West, local artistes here too saw their profiles balloon after the win.
When Diamond Platnumz in 2009 picked five awards his personal and artistic profile changed, it is perhaps where the journey towards stardom kicked off.
He got a rare profile to work with some of Africa’s superstars including Senegal’s Yussou N’dour.
His growing profile soon put him among the elite just as his asking price for shows soon began to shoot from a prodigy to a superstar. He now commands show fees of up to $100,000
Whatever followed was all history as he has become one of Africa’s most sought after performer.
Though there have been attempts to fill the void, such efforts have been rather lukewarm and there is every indication that the Kili awards are sorely missed.
Whatever happened that forced the organizers to back out is still a point of debate but as they continue mulling over what the future holds it is obvious that the industry needs these awards.