The current wave of live shows is unprecedented, with some major acts performing in  SA almost on weekly basis

Royce Mapaike

Show business is undoubtedly a very risky business. Very tricky. Just ask any local promoter who has tried putting up a couple of shows and he or she will tell you music or arts promotion is no walk in the park. I also believe it is not for the faint hearted. I cannot imagine what would happen if a weak-hearted promoter was to put up all his money on a show and no one turns up to watch or attend it.

This has happened before. I know a couple of business people that have tried to promote both local and international artists and nearly burst because they could not realise anything from the show.

One or two promoters went into hiding for weeks-running away from debtors and service providers they owed money to. Another couple were so burnt they never tried promoting shows again.

Showbiz, as arts promotion is known all over the world, is about audiences. It is about getting people out of their houses and attending shows and the more the people that attended the more the business. The business is in selling tickets and getting audiences to buy food and drinks inside the venue of the show.



Those who have done it properly will tell you proper money is not even on the gate but in the sales- beer, soft drinks and eats sold inside the venue.

In the past there were artists who were sure crowd pullers. Any day of the week their shows would pull sizeable crowds.

Artists like Tuku, Macheso and the likes of Sulumani Chimbetu were what one would call bankable artistes. You promoted their shows and you were assured of the trip to the bank the following morning.

Big crowds came to their shows.

South African artistes were always another sure one way to the bank, especially in Bulawayo. All promoters had to do was to find the right amounts of money to sign these artistes. However trends are slowly changing and some unfortunate promoters have been burnt seriously in the process.

While revellers found instant gratification at the news of bars and live gigs opening, perhaps there was another group of individuals whose sigh of relief was even heavier than that of drinkers.



For artistes the announcement meant the reopening of taps that had for them, been closed for far too long. For over a year they had been thirsty, searching for any kind of relief as they watched from the sidelines while other sectors of the economy reopened gradually.

Now that the bars and nightclubs, their natural playgrounds, had reopened, they could once again swing into action.

At first glance, all looks rosy for artistes, especially musicians. As clouds gather for another rainy season, there seems to be a deluge of shows on the cards in the arts as well and posters are going up and down on the sides of cars and promotional videos are floating on social media timelines.

In the past three or so months audiences have been behaving strangely.  They have not been turning up for the shows. Twice Thomas Mapfumo has come to South Africa especially Pretoria and  Capetown but failed to fill up the small venues. Some of his followers would tell you it was because of the pandemic COVID-19 and some would put the blame on the poor planning from the promoter.



Seh-Calaz on the other hand, performed in highly anticipated show same weekend with Mukanya and pulled impressive crowd with his latest offering “Hatibvume kupusa”.

However Mukanya is not the only one who failed to pull the crowds in South Africa recently. The youthful duo of  Zimdancehall artists which is affectionately known as TEAM B.P (Bazooker and Pumacol), failed to live up to their billing in Kempton Park as the empty venue yawned before them.

In Harare word is that dancehall music is pulling the crowds and filling venues. So exactly is happening in SA? What exactly do our audiences want? Is it quality they are looking for or something fresh and new or something they know already and are familiar with?

The current wave of live shows is unprecedented, with some major acts performing in  SA almost on weekly basis.

Advice to those that want to go into music promotion: Do a thorough audience research before going into the business with everything you got.


Mapaike is with Exquisite Entertainment. Feedback, comments, suggestions, whatsapp +27842253475




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