The decline in music sales through radio cassettes and CDs in Malawi in the last decade triggered a rise of a new way of listening to music. The receiving end adopted free downloads on music sites; a development which has a devastating economic effect on musicians.
The Malawi music industry thus left artists with only one source of income – stage performances – as free downloads meant Malawian artists cannot make money through their music. However, the birth of the new decade has brought new hope for Malawian artists in terms of music sales.
Phyzix, a rapper believed to be a legend in the hip-hop game, is among the pioneers of the development. His latest music collection dubbed Gamba Season has broken the record for online music sales in Malawi as the best-selling Extended Playlist to date. The body of work was initially planned to be sold at K1, 000 but the rapper received support from fellow artists like Gwamba and Fredokiss who bought the EP at K50, 000 and K100, 000 respectively. The Gamba Season EP received support from personalities outside music as well like former Blantyre Mayor, Noel Chalamanda, among others.
The body of work has amassed more than K1 million; with more people still buying the project. In an interview with FYI, Phyzix, whose real name is Noel Chikoleka, encouraged musicians to welcome the development considering that changes in technology are creating new developments for creatives. “This is only the genesis and we should not expect an easy ride at this stage. Musicians should intensify making more of their music online for sale, in that way there will be massive benefits,” he said.
The rapper also expressed delight for inspiring other musicians to borrow a leaf from him. It’s no surprise that artists such as Eli Njuchi and Classick are also trading their music for gold via the internet. The Book of Z EP by the former and Pisces EP by the latter have enjoyed a farfetched support from fellow artists and some of their fans.
Quite an interesting time to see Malawian artists make money through their music, the question, however, is whether the fans are willing to spend money on music. Urban music lover, Sarah Chigamba, argues that musicians must learn from Phyzix. She believes his connections both in entertainment and his professional life have helped him to pioneer online music sales at its highest level.