Showbiz is known as a dog-eat-dog industry for a good reason because it either makes you or breaks you. It is a fact that most artists are in the game both for the love of music and making a living. But it seems not all musicians know that even if they make good music, they need to put bread on the table in order to survive in their hostile environment, especially in Botswana.
So it is high time Botswana artists used every trick in the book to make some money for themselves while doing something that they love. Following are some of the tactics that local artists can employ to make noise and money at the same time.
One of the tactics that many artists use to make sure that they earn more money and grow their fan base is highlighting a beef with a contemporary artist. Some of these rivalries range from playful antics to full scale war between ‘adversarial’ artists. Perhaps one of the biggest beefs in the history of the music industry is the feud between Biggie Small’s East Coast side and Tupac’s West Coast side. Infact, it is safe to assume that these two rappers have inspired beefs among artists, though it is sad that their feud ended with the death of the two larger-than-life personalities.
A beef can be used as a playful way of discrediting a rival artist in order to promote your own work. An artist may diss his rival in order to get his fans to buy his CD and other merchandise in larger numbers. In Botswana, the greatest chief of beef is none other than Ozi F Teddy, real name Ted Tshepang Phaphane, who is known for his loud mouth and dissing his contemporaries by declaring that “local music is trash”. While some may find his remarks offensive, many know that he normally does it to create hype around his own works. In the neighbouring South Africa, the beef between AKA and Cassper Nyovest always makes headlines. So a healthy beef between two great artists can help them ‘advertise’ their works effectively.
One of the safest ways of promoting a forthcoming album is shooting a video of a hit song and using it to promote the album. The artist can create hype using the video by posting it on social media so that by the time he releases the album, his fans are ready to buy it. Interestingly, this tactic has been used by big-name international artists as well.
Here in Botswana, some of the artists who have effectively used video promos are Vee and Figos.
Controversial song title
Some artists may come up with a controversial title for a single in order to get the attention of potential fans. Shumba Ratshega once used that ploy with “Kgweetsa Nkuku,” which attracted the controversy that he wanted. Another musician who tried that is Kgankga with his song titled “Ke Thutswe ke Koloi.” But this tactic might sometimes it backfires. Controversial song titles and lyrics can actually destroy someone’s career if they are in poor taste. One of the most trashed songs in Botswana was Kgankga’s “Ke Thutswe ke Koloi” and the artist never recovered from the backlash.
Releasing merchandise to coincide with an event or the release of an album is a sure way of making money. Kwasakwasa artist Frank ‘Franco’ Lesokwane is currently selling merchandise to go with his anticipated “Soul Fill Up” festival. Needless to say, this is most certainly creating hype around the campaign that seeks to fill the National Stadium in Gaborone with revellers early next month.
While different types of merchandise may be sold to coincide with an important event, in a country like Botswana where it can be hard to break into the market, some of the easier things to sell are T-shirts. It is most certain that many of Franco’s fans will be wearing his merchandise at the stadium, earning him more money in the process.
But the traditional way of promoting events and albums remains granting media interviews.