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COMMENTARY

Why Are Our Artists Failing To Control The Online Sphere?

#Zimbabwe

Marketing and human interaction, in general, are moving onto the online sphere. Revolutions, movements, and trends are all stemming from the online sphere now. The entire globe has been united in one big web and access is now easier. Music has not been lagging behind, in fact, online streaming is the biggest music sharing method. Relatively unknown artists now have a chance to gain an audience by just getting their work online. However, where is Zimbabwe in all this mix?

As Africa’s internet growth continues to be the fastest in the world, it seems like that growth is happening somewhere else and not in Zimbabwe. The power of social media in building music careers has been evident for the past 4 years, with a lot of internet sensations gaining limelight solely from their online presence. An example is Nasty C from South Africa and another good example will be the meteoric rise of AKA and Cassper Nyovest due to the influence they built online after a beef. THat clout they have resonates in the album sales and their show attendance statistics.

Let’s bring it home, in the land where most artists claim superstardom and having a track which is hot ‘in the streets’. What has been done by artists to boost their social media presence and if they indeed have one, translate that to actual income for them or growth of their fanbase? I will not attempt to teach how to grow your online audience and engage with it (try the ‘digital strategists’) but I will lay my soul bare.

I will use Cassper Nyovest because grootman obviously has the online game on lock. He is the master of streams in Mzansi, therefore, he is the perfect example. The man has been making moves with the #FillUp movement which creates mass hysteria online. He has mastered the art of getting people excited, stirring conversations and even driving traffic to other artists. Cassper filled up the TicketPro Dome in 2015 basing the majority of his marketing online. Funny thing is, SA Twitter hadn’t grown to current proportions. He formulated an easy and catchy hashtag #FillUpTheDome and for months before the showcase, this hashtag was breaking the internet. The discussions were spilling over to the rest of South Africa. He managed to control the narrative in such a way that even here in Zimbabwe, we were proud of him and tweeting the hashtag furiously. The next year he followed with #FillUpOrlando, which also broke the internet and the conversations revolved around him. In 2017 he pulled a feat with #FillUpFNB and we all know most of the tweets on that particular hashtag went gold with no features.

How did this guy manage to make sure that everyone was talking about him? Cassper did not treat the online sphere differently from any offline information dissemination source. He uses the shock value of his feats to control the conversations online. The aim was to make sure that his name never becomes irrelevant. The #FillUp movement is now bigger than Cassper himself as a lot of artists feed on it. The power of uniting reach so as to gain the maximum numbers. That is what Cassper figured out. That Twitter, Facebook, Instagram is all real life only that access to each other is now easier.

Zimbabwe has over 4 million of its people using the internet and that is shared between WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and others. Our data rates don’t make it an easier but surely, in the age where a skit by a random unknown fella in the backwoods of Masvingo can trend on the internet then why not an artist’s track. Some artists have tried to get a grip on an online audience. However, it will never be notable if the biggest act in the country has the same number of followers on Twitter as a media personality who is not that much in the public eye as the artist.

Consumers no longer pay maximum attention to television or radio to fish for trends. Social media is leading the way and that is why YouTube streams are extremely important to an artist. If your social media reach is good then you will get a good number of views on youtube. If that is the case, do the views or plays on Zimbabwean artist’s channels give a true reflection of the over 4 million Zimbos wired to the net? If not, which is the case anyway, why are we slacking?

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Free Thinker. Loud. Another inhabitant of Terra Firma. I am not your favourite person. Neither do I plan to be. But you will know my opinion. In fact, you will love it.

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