Zimbabwean hip-hop is currently dominantly surviving on the “freeconomy” and it gets worse daily as many artistes fail to convert their free download leads to paying customers. There are definitely revenue models around free stuff but we have been floating in a comfort zone for a long time which makes us look cheap.
My friends and I started doing this music thing from Way Back and had little traction getting any money from it. Perhaps we thought the money would crawl to our pockets but that wasn’t the reality. After failing to monetize for many years we realized. You cannot get money in these concrete jungles if you don’t ask for it. For how long will you give your hard work to someone for free?
Now I am definitely not against free downloads. There are many artistes that give all their releases freely such as Tehn Diamond, Ba Shupi, Marques, MMT and Cal_Vin just to name a few. The list is actually long but yet shorter than the list of those who give away free downloads without a strategy.
You can increase bookings to shows by giving booking information in your free songs meta-tags and twitter bio. You can also openly actively invite bookings from time to time on Facebook and Twitter. There is nothing embarrassing about asking for things that give you money. No matter who thinks it’s shallow I can personally go on Facebook and ask for speaking engagements and it has gotten me a number of calls and business. Just like how the airtime guy shouts all day in First Street, to others he is a fool but to his wife he is a man because he is keeping her stomach full.
By the way call me on +263774448619 for any speaking engagements on social media, blogging and consultancy.
When one of the mentioned artistes gives a free song away, they usually use it to increase their reach so that their shows are well attended. The money is in the shows or the merchandise they sell. The merchandise consists of snap backs, t-shirts, shirts and other accessories that allow them to connect to their audience. The shows allow the fans to be in the spirit of buying. I can assure you that sending a picture of t-shirts you sell on Whatsapp or Facebook will never be as effective as giving people a good show and asking people to buy the t-shirt.
In sales anyway, it has always been easier if the sales person comes face to face and persuades you than when they ask you to buy via a flier. So I am suggesting that rappers should begin to take shows as opportunities to sell merchandise. The show environment is a great market place as long as your performance is on point and you sell at the price that the audience can afford.
You really have to do your market research but also don’t spend too much time assuming. Test a product on the people and yes you may make losses at first but so does a start-up bakery, saloon or butchery. You are a business too.
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