‘Band Music’ is soon dying… permanently!

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Mesach Semakula is Band Music's poster boy in Uganda; you can not ignore him in that regard. (Photo Courtesy: http://www.gossip247.co.ug)
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As it is, this headline alone is enough to bring me problems, especially from artistes doing this ‘genre’ of music. Welcome to yet another Friday, the only day I happen to write some sense about our music industry.

Going back to the turn of the millennium, in the early 2000’s, Band Music was at an all-time peak, so much that Mesach Semakula was crowned Artiste of the Year at the now dead Pearl of Africa Music (PAM) Awards. This sparked off the small-time beef between him and Jose Chameleone.

At the time, Eagle’s Production comprising Mesach Semakula, Geoffrey Lutaaya, Ronald Mayinja, Catherine Kusasira, and Irene Namatovu among others was ‘on fire’. But, as the industry transitioned from analog to digital, these chaps deliberately refused to tag along; they found comfort in staying analog.

With the growth of Internet adoption, music consumers in Uganda now rely on digital platforms like Howwe, UGZiki, MP3Jaja, Youtube and many others to find music. It is very unfortunate that even with the ease of having your music distributed via these platforms, you will find a really hard time getting Band Music here.

One time, I was watching Mesach Semakula on one of those TV interviews. When asked about the reach of his music, his response was “Music waffe ali mu byaalo ne mu butale,” translated to mean that his music is playing in the villages and markets.

Artistes (L) Sasha Brighton Kalungi and (R) Carol Nantongo.

If you can, find the time and go to these markets. The market vendors today are people with a decent education, they can afford a GoTV Decorder from which they watch the English Premier League, BET, E!, Keeping Up With The Kardashians and all those trendy shows. These are the people Mesach Semakula thinks consume his music! An almost similar situation is in the villages; the winds of change have swept across the countryside.

Do not get it twisted though; Band Music is actually good for the soul as it educates and entertains, unlike the popcorn beats and lyrics that blare in urban hangouts. Band Music is the type you can comfortably listen to in the presence of your parents and children without fear of being scandalized.

The bone I have to pick with Band Music artistes is their reliance on music promoters who are not exposed at all to online music distribution. They are still locked onto the ‘old skool’ type of distribution where you head down to say Arua Park in Kampala and give the song to the guys who make music CD and head back to their shops at Majestic Plaza thinking “It’s done!”

I know a couple of Band Music artistes with new music but for some, and obvious, reasons, you will never find it online but downtown. Guys like Geoffrey Lutaaya, Mesach Semakula, Ronald Mayinja, Irene Namatovu, Rebecca Jingo, Stecia Mayanja et al have an audience that has grown with them along the way. This audience shifted from music libraries to online platforms but the artistes don’t seem to realize this. The youthful likes of Carol Nantongo and Sasha Brighton are making efforts to utilize online platforms but still, it is low-key owing to their uniformed promoters and managers regarding online music distribution.

Until these Band Music artistes realize and harness the power of online music distribution, we are likely to bury and have the last funeral rites of Band Music. I’m out until next Friday as we build this industry brick by brick.

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