Zimbabwean Music Sector Situational Analysis Report published
The National Arts Council of Zimbabwe has published a report on the situational analysis of the Zimbabwe music sector. The analysis was carried out under the framework of the EU/UNESCO Expert Facility for the Governance of Culture in Developing Countries and is part of the project in Zimbabwe titled “Strategy for the sustainable development of Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs) in Zimbabwe – focus on the Music sector”.
Supported by two International UNESCO Experts, Ms. Yarri Kamara (Sierra Leone) and Mr. Farai Mfunya (Zimbabwe), the project will establish a music strategy that focuses on funding the development of the Culture and Creative Industry (CCIs), taking into account the digital environment and the need to support creative entrepreneurship in order to create sustainable CCIs that can contribute to the country’s long-term economic development.
Amidst the COVID 19 effects, the very sector that provides comfort and strengths to the crisis-struck world is one of the most precarious. The music industry is in dire need of institutional and financial support for its survival. The cancellation of public gatherings, musicians in Zimbabwe, who rely heavily on live performances to make a living, have been hit particularly hard. The current crisis thus highlights the need to secure internet access and digital tools for Zimbabwean musicians.
The situational analysis highlighted several challenges that hinder the development of the music industry in Zimbabwe limiting music’s contribution to the economy and livelihoods. De-structuring of the music value chain and piracy are some of such obstacles.
Below is a summary key issues raised by the situational analysis:
While statistics on the size of the Zimbabwean music market are scarce, industry players generally concur that there has been strong growth in the number of musicians, both male and female, in the past decades.
34% of Zimbabwean today consume music primarily through streaming, and another 23% primarily through WhatsApp transfers.
Radio and television remain the main mode of music consumption for 11% and 2% of Zimbabweans respectively.
Most online consumers of music are consuming music freely, with only 27% of Zimbabweans reporting having a paid subscription to a streaming platform.
YouTube is by far the most popular platform for Zimbabwean music consumers: 78% use the platform at least once a week. The second most popular platform is Facebook Live, used regularly by 37% of consumers. Only 8% of respondents say they do not use any streaming platform regularly.
The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed music consumption even further online, including watching streamed live performances.
Zimbabwe suggest that the Zimbabwean sector currently relies more on revenue from live performances than any other income stream.
Piracy has dwindled the physical sale of music almost completely. CDs are pirated within 24 hours and many producers or labels have stopped releasing CDs at all.
68% of musicians questioned in November 2020 declared having made no revenue whatsoever from streaming in the past year, and only 2% reported having made more than US$5000 from streaming revenue in a year.
Revenue from a live performance is generated both from concerts in Zimbabwe, as well as performances abroad. For some genres of music such as Zim Dancehall, performances outside Zimbabwe target mainly diaspora populations, while other genres reach out to more diversified foreign audiences
Revenues from royalties are often not significant for individual artists. In the past, non-payment of rights by national broadcasters to the collection society, ZIMURA, has resulted in artists being paid royalties several years after they were due, which in an inflationary context can cancel out the bulk of earnings.