LIKE IT IS: 10 Tips on how to make our music industry more Profitable and Marketable

Nicholas Kalungi.

The 2016 MTV MAMA Awards were successful held on Saturday 22nd October at Ticketpro Dome, Johannesburg.

From Uganda, the awards’ aftermath has been characterized by some hullaballoo. So much has been said and posted. Several allegations, accusations and lies have been peddled. For many, it now looks like there is a well-planned conspiracy against us. Ask me any day and I will tell you; that is a FACT LIE. We shall one day discuss that comprehensively.

One of the most passionately debated issues in Uganda’s music industry since 2000 has been our success at the continental and global level or perhaps the lack thereof. A friend recently summarized our continental and global performance as lukewarm success. I didn’t agree with him but again that too is a story for another day!

But in all; it is bad manners and very unreasonable to think that success is got at the last hour. Save for extremely rare cases of ultimate luck; success must be planned, worked for, and eventually earned. Thus, it will be so wrong, somewhat uncivilized conduct for one to think that you can just win a prestigious award without putting in so ‘much right work’. You must plan for it, you must work for it, you must position yourself for it, and you must combine a cocktail of factors to achieve definitive and desired success.

While many music stakeholders spent the weekend attacking and belittling our musicians and fans at large for not winning at the MTV MaMas, I decided to not only reflect on what was happening but also find workable solutions to our issues. You see, the first step to recover and change is acceptance. I accept that more work needs to be done if we are to become an African music power house.

Fact; we have made several positive strides. Though not where we ought to be, we are not where we were three or five years ago.  There is recognizable improvement. But we must add in more effort. We must get more organized, more streetwise, more hungry, more determined, more cohesive and more alert.

We should never look for shortcuts because we won’t find any. Instead, let us work out a clear plan with clear milestones for making our music industry more profitable and marketable across Africa.


Here are my 10 Tips. Pick those that speak to you and ignore those that are alien.

Put in place Proper Management Structures for the 5 Music Ps: Production, Promotion, Publicity, Public Relations and Profit Sharing. Recently, I spent some time with the SautiSol during their Live and Die in Afrika Uganda tour. From my discussions with them, it was clear that they had worked and prepared for success. Their PR team was always around and from a distance following the proceedings as our chat went on. Before and after the interview, I received emails and Whatsapp messages from their PR handlers inquiring on whether there was anything else my team needed. It is no surprise that this all boys group – SautiSol is flying very high. They are among the top 10 artistes from Africa currently. Much of this is attributed to their proper management.

Create and support East African Music Properties. Over the weekend, many of you were sourgraping, crying foul and alleging falsehoods against the MTV MaMas after we won no accolade. Surprisingly, those sourgraping are the same people that belittle, abuse and underline East African and in particular Ugandan Music Properties that come with good intention. We must support our own franchises. I can authentically tell you that a project like HiPipo Music Awards has all the potential to conquer Africa if supported and critiqued with no bias. After ten years, HiPipo has the capacity to become the next big thing. For that I offer no apologies. But guess what, instead of promoting our very own platforms, we belittle them and give more attention to the big west and south powers. And when we don’t win, we attack and abuse – very unfortunate.

Do more collabos. I mean cross border collaborations. Yes, this is a FACT.  The time is ripe for our artistes to do cross border collaborations. The biggest collaborations in Africa are between South and West Africa Artistes. Nonetheless, in the past 3 years, collabos involving East African artistes have thrived. Diamond with Davido, Diamond with Mr Flavour, Diamond with P Square, Diamond with AKA, SautiSol with Alikiba, and SautiSol with Yemi Alade among others. All these did well. Can we now have collabos of Ugandans and other artistes beginning with East African Artistes? As a start point, Kenzo and Diamond, SautiSol and Sheebah, Bebe Cool and Alikiba or Bebe Cool and Diamond etc. We can then add impactful duets with West and South African artistes. But as we do these collabos, we must see to it that we invest in their aggressive marketing too.

Challenge Corporate Entities to become more involved, and dedicated to developing our Industry. The relationship between corporate companies and music should never be a ‘predator-prey’ relationship. It should be a mutual one where both parties benefit equally. What is happening today is a more one sided relationship where corporate companies are collecting billions and giving the music industry peanuts. It is a raw deal for the music industry. The honest and unfortunate truth is that both the corporate companies and the music industry are responsible for this current state of affairs. Corporate Companies are exploiting while the Music Industry continuously accepts and settles for less. It is a mess that we need to reverentially correct.

Be more original, unique, creative and musically different. Eddy Kenzo won the BET award because his song was firstly African and the video showcased our dance artiness. Bebe Cool’s Love Everyday song became massive across Africa because it was unique and the video had been artistically done. We won’t become big by copying and pasting. The only way we are going to top African charts is by being original, unique, creative and different. Enough said!

Even when we disagree, we should never be disagreeable. When results are not in your favor, it is always recommended that you don’t attack the system unless you have tangible evidence to prove a point – in this case conspiracy against you. Disagreeing is normal and healthy. It happens every day, everywhere you go. The problem is being disagreeable. Don’t become offensive and nasty because something never worked out like you hoped. Such bad manners may close very many doors for you.

Continue to let Others make Money off Our Music. Sounds strange but true. For now, we shouldn’t over emphasize music distribution and circulation restrictions. We need our music to be out there in the crowd. We need more people listening to our music. Let us send it to as many people as possible via email and social media. But while doing this, we should ensure that the small entities using our music for financial gains give us credit. For starters; any DJ or VJ using your music should mention your name. However, all big entities using your music for financial gains such as telecom companies must share the returns.

Work on achieving a bigger Population. Another strange one but true. The West African countries particularly Nigeria are ahead of us because of their bigger population advantage. They have a bigger listenership, attack more multinational companies and the home grown companies also have bigger marketing budgets. You can’t under estimate the role played by the for-mentioned three factors in developing Nigerian art. As a long term plan, we need a bigger population. Men and Women; you surely know what to do and when to start!

Alikiba nominated for MTV Europe Music Awards 2016.

Alikiba nominated for MTV Europe Music Awards 2016.

Respect but don’t fear our Competition. I was at some event recently and when a Nigerian artiste arrived, some artistes were almost kneeling down. When South African artistes fly in, we are in the colliders of their hotels. Hell NO! Why give them so much importance. Yaah; we should respect their accomplishments but we must neither fear now worship them.

Must Seek for GOD’s Blessings and Luck. Though last, this is the most important tip. All the other 9 are enabled by this. It is wholly about GOD’s blessings and luck. While receiving the accolade for personality of the year at the 2016 MTV MaMa, Caster Semenya who won gold in the women’s 800 metres race at RIO Olympics this year said; “I would like to thank God for this precious talent. It’s been a fantastic year for me.” That sums up everything.

In summary, here are my 10 tips on making our music industry more profitable and marketable.

1. Put in place Proper Management Structures for the 5 Music Ps: Production, Promotion, Publicity, Public Relations and Profit Sharing.

2. Create and support East African Music Properties.

3. Do more collabos. I mean cross border collaborations.

4. Challenge Corporate Entities to become more involved, and dedicated to developing our Industry.

5. Be more original, creative and musically different.

6. Even when we disagree, we should never be disagreeable.

7. Continue to let Others Make Money off Our Music.

8. Work on achieving a bigger Population.

9. Respect but don’t fear our Competition.

10. Must seek for GOD’s Blessings and Luck.

Feel free to email me at

GOD FIRST still!


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