There is a lot happening in the country and this started way back when the pandemic started, this pandemic is something that nobody expected but out of the blue something that was happening in the other countries finally reached us and we are now facing the hard times together as a world because many businesses were closed down by governments for purposes of making sure the infections are dealt with.
Closing some of these sectors like art wasn’t good but yes, everyone wants to be healthy and alive so it was called for and it has helped us not lose many of our loved ones. Before I can even talk about the impact of the pandemic on the arts industry, let me briefly talk about Arts in Uganda.
There’s no doubt that today’s art industry is violently competitive. Because a number of very fresh, new and good music and theatre drama comes out each and every day, it makes sense that people in the arts industry often adopt a winner takes it all mentality when it comes to promoting and advocating for their work.
All I have noted is that these men and women are instead fighting each other and entertaining jealousy when another artist succeeds, artists should be working together to create momentum for their work.
The reality is that plenty of artists actively do support each other now, whether they receive any benefits or not. These artists are much better off than their non-supportive counterparts who think art should be politics. These are the people who hold up concerts, inspire others, and create opportunities for people in their communities and this is what is expected of Uganda’s music industry but I am always surprised seeing a very disorganized arts industry in the country.
Government has played its role and put up laws in place that favor the industry but the people in the art industry are not utilizing the laws, the copyright law has been existing for quite some time but still our artists think their music has to be everywhere the day it is released, in fact some move around supplying their music freely to libraries and even paying some money for their music to be played.
This whole week has been full of drama from the art industry as different artists have been throwing tantrums at each other for something simple, there is an existing Uganda Musicians Association (UMA) that has been existing for some time and it has good membership of the crème artists but recently I also saw Jose Chameleon and some gang also declaring that they have started up another association and this just created confusion.
For quite some time government has been requesting artists to come up with associations through which they can get some relief funds to help them during this pandemic but the confusion in this industry is not ending soon because ever since one of them tried politics and became famous, many other artists decided to follow his path and now think that attacking government and playing the blame game will get them mileage to sell their music which isn’t right at all.
Many years ago when some of us were young, the arts industry was respected and an artist was honored everywhere in the country but right now we have artists who don’t respect themselves and there is no reason as to why we have to respect them when they keep attacking each other on live television shows.
At the moment, it’s the artists begging from the people that they made scream and call their names loud when they were performing on stage. since last year when the pandemic got here, we have seen artists on Television asking Government for Posho and Beans which isn’t bad but it really discourages us from believing in them, how come that these people were not saving and had no other businesses. For a fact, am sure Government has tried to release some funds for the promoters who had organized events and money was also released through some Associations for the artists but the disorganization in them is something that won’t let them settle and enjoy the relief fund from government.
When artists stop fighting each other and start supporting one another, they have the opportunity to build opportunities for themselves. Some of the world’s best music labels like Sony Music Group, Universal Music, festivals, and venues started with musicians having conversations about what was lacking in their areas and what they could do to make sure their communities are better.
But at the moment our artists are having a tougher time connecting and building opportunities for their industry because they have all decided to have factions, theatres performers want to have their own, comedians have their own Association and instrumentalists also have theirs and this is where the problem is.
Envy and laziness have always served as hurdles for our artists, but isolation is the biggest problem that are artists are facing. Their entire careers are now built on social media and noisy Television shows that give them platform to attack each other, respond to each other while ignoring to reach out to the consumers of their music. These people think they know it all and we the consumers can’t advise them on what to do and that’s why they end up forcing on us some of their music.
That aside, Iet me leave my little advice here but I know many will ignore it because they don’t see me in their industry, one of the most interesting choices you may have as an artist is to join an artist Association, especially if you are just starting your career or even when you have taken long in the industry. An association like UMA is an arrangement where you team up to get resources with other artists to obtain studio space and possibly gallery and retail space as well for yourself.
If our artists decide to join a single association, it will act as a source of learning, inspiration and motivation, the association will help producers get exposure for their new and existing studios, it will help artists to expand their market exposure and customer base etc.
As we keep enjoying the disorganization of our artists, I know government wants artists to keep the rights to the music, drama and skits they produce and to have a greater say in how their music, drama and plays are sold.
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