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By Bash Mutumba
In the last half a decade or so, the biggest musical export from East Africa, has undoubtedly been Diamond Platnumz. Together with the 5 artists signed to his WCB Wasafi record label, Naseeb Abdul Juma has proved that despite the reign of West African music, East Africa has something to contribute to Afro Beat. Musically, financially and otherwise, Ugandan musicians have 6 major things to learn from the Tanzanian Bongo Flava star:
1. Social media is the new mainstream media
Wait! I know you’re about to lash out at me on how inaccurate that statement is, but Diamond has proved otherwise – at least musically speaking. After him and his record label being denied airplay by all top media houses in Tanzania, he defied odds, and signed a new artist – Mbosso – who has achieved unprecedented success in just one year of unveiling.
How does he do it? Well, thanks to Tanzania’s big social media usage, almost everyone part of his company has a cult of followers on Instagram(with Diamond himself flying high at 6.3+ Million), who are always directed to YouTube, iTunes and other digital music platforms to support any new piece of work from any Wasafi artist. Promotional challenges are also hyped, involving fans singing and/or dancing to the song in question, and are posted by the artists themselves. In the end, even the perceived weakest artist in Wasafi is able to garner at least a million views within a week of release for a video, and two weeks for an audio.
For a Ugandan musician, earning a million views within a month of release of a video is a miracle usually celebrated. Also, no single show by Diamond Platnumz or any of his artists goes unnoticed; more about that in the next one.
2. Teamwork is everything
While a Ugandan musician will have one manager to handle everything: show bookings, stage management, costumes, welfare, photography and videography, security, payment, studio sessions, PR and all; Diamond has an individual or more for each of those items, for each artist. The team has the duty to make sure nothing goes unnoticed. Behind the scenes sessions of music video shoots, media tours and performances are always made ready for viewership on YouTube and Instagram.
Also, music recording sessions are usually seamlessly executed, as the artists spend a lot of time together as a family. They all have home studios on top of the main studio at the headquarters.
Management-wise, Diamond put the best names in the industry on board to make his label grow: Babu Tale, Mkubwa Fela and Salam SK do mentor younger managers like Ricardo Momo, Makame and Sandra to handle all artists accordingly.
He also has a video production company of his own(Zoom Production) in partnership with Director Kenny to cut costs, since all Wasafi musicians shoot big budget videos. The partnership with tycoon Joseph Kusaga to start Wasafi Media also proved he is a team player.
3. Scarcity increases demand
Unlike Ugandan musicians who do up to 20 shows or more a week, Diamond and his musicians are rare on stage, so their expensive charges are justified. If it is not his Wasafi countrywide and Kenya festival, Diamond is on tour across the world. His international performance fee is rumored at $60,000.
4. Be humble
Despite the flossing on social media and in music videos, everyone who has met Diamond says he is a very humble man. He respects every single person in their right. This one is a little hard to believe because fame easily gets to people’s heads.
5. International collabos are a fame catalyst
As Ugandan artists have failed to gain much from international collabos, say Jose Chameleone with Kelly Rowland, Beenie Man and Konshens, A Pass with Konshens, Pallaso with Davido etc; Diamond has made a killing off them. His first international hit was “Number One Remix” featuring Davido, he went on to shine brighter, with collaborations with Ne-Yo, Morgan Heritage, P Square, Miri Ben Ari, Rick Ross, Patoranking etc.
6. A star’s private life is the world’s business
This doesn’t necessarily mean he has to show everything that happens in his life to the public, but he is well aware his fans are so interested in his private life, and he capitalizes on that. Diamond has made sure drama between him and his partners like Zari, Hamisa and Tanasha makes him the talk of the East.
These are indeed ambitious things for a Ugandan setting, but if you wonder how the Tanzanian sensation does it, there you have it!
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