Camp Mullah performing at Niko Na Safaricom Live concert in Meru
For the longest time, musicians were generally not able to make a living out of their art. With many of them having to hold down day jobs to make a living. However, this has changed in the recent past with musicians now being able to comfortably make a living off their craft. Other than the musicians hard work and resilience, part of the reason for the growth has been the investment that some corporates like Safaricom have made in the industry over the years.
Safaricom began investing in the industry back in 2011, when it kicked off the “Safaricom Kenya Live” series which was later renamed “Niko na Safaricom Live”. The series took various local artistes to different towns across the country to showcase their music. The artists an opportunity to earn a living as well as connect with their fans across the country. Other than the monetary aspect, the artists gained from the publicity and media mileage while on the series. It also enabled enables their fans to be able to see their favorite musicians live on stage at almost no cost. Artists were also taught various things during the tour like how to deal with fans, media, finances among other things that make them better. The attendant publicity and monetary gains must have made many artists who hadn’t been on the tour work hard to be selected for the next one over the years. This had an effect of raising the standards of the music that we are enjoying today.
When Safaricom started the Safaricom Jazz Festivals back in 2014, many Kenyans didn’t give a hoot about Jazz. This meant that Kenyan Jazz musicians were not able to make a living comfortably from craft. The festival offered them a chance to showcase their talent as well as earn from their craft. The exposure to various international artists also meant that they were able to perfect their skills by performing with the best in the world. Thanks to Safaricom Jazz, bands like Nairobi Horns Project, Shamsi Music, Afrosync, Edward Parseen and The Different Faces have become household names.
Skiza is essentially a ring back tone or a call tune that allows subscribers to entertain callers with their favorite song as they wait for you to pick up the phone. It was introduced by Safaricom a few years back and has enabled musicians to sell their music to the public. It started at a time when there were few effective distribution channels for music unlike today. Last year Safaricom announced an increase in the royalties paid to artists to 30% up from 22% which obviously meant more money in the bank for our musicians.