Ntsiki Mazwai Tells It Like It Is

I was going through Ntsiki Mazwai's page when I came across this article. At the risk of being attacked and called names by Justcurious.co.za fans (the last time a cross referenced one of their articles I was berated) I thought I'd share it with you. This article is just too poignant especially in these times ...

Why Our Artists Die Broke

June 20, 2011 by Ntsiki Mazwai   
There is a need to dispel the notion that it is easy to be an artist; that it is some lifestyle you choose because you are too lazy to get a 9-5. I see people making a mockery of artists that die broke and it makes me sad.
It makes me sad because people don’t realise the hard realities that face being a true artist in this country. Unlike standard jobs, an artist lives hand to mouth. They make a living off their gigs usually, and twice yearly they may receive their publishing royalties. This means that if there are no gigs, you have no income to sustain yourself.The only way to get gigs is to release an album and have a ‘hit,’ but that can only happen if you have a record label to finance your creative venture. To my knowledge there are only 3 or 4 major record labels amidst the millions with talent in this country. There are many independent record labels, but even they struggle to sustain themselves owing to cash flow problem. So basically, no matter how many songs you have done with your backroom producers, if you lack the resources to release your music then it’s no gigs for you sweetiepie.
So now that I have established that your sustainability as an artist is dangerously dependent on gigs, let me further point out that the perks that you would normally get in a proper job are non-existent. This seems a little unfair to me because just because artists don’t work in an office space, does not mean they are not working. So as an artist, you just keep giving and giving of yourself without a solid foundation. Things like health insurance, car allowance, retirement funds are things you forfeit should your calling be creatively inclined.
So it is not by choice that we choose to be broke artists, it is because there are not enough avenues to sustain our ‘sickness.’ In an ideal world, the government and educational institutions would work together with artist as it has long been established that artist are the conscience of a people. In history artists were revered and respected because the gifts they bring to us are spiritual. They make us feel good and say the things we want to say. Artists are a vehicle of communication. Many artists have stood up in the face of wars and destruction and used their craft to mobilize people to better conditions. True artists are a gift and if this was recognised, then maybe we wouldn’t be laughing at the artists that die broke.
And yes, you will argue that when they had their millions they bought expensive cars with personalised number plates, but please remember, democracy is still a teenage in this country. A lot of those artist didn’t have the educational background or know that there was nothing to catch them when they didn’t have an album. In fact I hate this thing of having something to fall back on. Artistry is a profession, it’s just not recognised in this country. There are structures and regulation boards that are enforced in the corperate world that should be enforced in the creative industry too.

There was a time in this country when performers would be paid for their performances on TV, but long gone are those days. Apparently some desperate artists came and did gigs for free, for ‘publicity.’ A rule that should have NEVER been compromised to begin with was lost and from then on, it became normal for artists to be exploited ‘for publicity’ on TV shows. At this point I must commend Afro Cafe for I know that they pay for performances. But bottom line is it’s very easy to perform and inspire millions of viewers and then get back home to an empty fridge.
Hayi ke, I wont even go into promoters running away with our monies or paying late when we too have bills to pay. That one is such a norm in the industry, it’s not even worth mentioning and the reality is that most of us can’t even afford lawyers so can you see we are easy game?
There’s no CCMA for us. If you get ‘blacklisted’ in the industry you have no options as it tends to be the same people who run all the big gigs. So there’s no choice but to suffer in silence. Personally I’m tired of suffering and shining at the same time, my spirit is getting mixed signals. One side I’m getting fanmail from people telling me how I changed their lives, but the other side, my bank balance doesn’t show it. To my dearest government, it’s time to step in and pass bills that will protect and encourage sustainable growth for creative workers in our country? I’m not one for handouts, I know I work my ass off but I gotta see what I’m working towards. We need some rules and regulations up in here!!

 SOURCE:  Just Curious

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice article by Ntsiki,i have my reservations and expressed it there.
Phil,why don't you just give up on the JC crew?
They could be very childish adults atimes.


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