2017 Zim Hip Hop Forecast
I have always been a firm believer in seeing the opportunity in every tragedy. We got hacked at the end of 2016, and the worst part in all of this is every technical person on our team had their hands full at the time. What that meant of course was that when we did get back to it, salvaging anything out of this was an uphill task. That’s the tragedy, all our hard work had been lost. All our articles and a site that was starting to rank on all search engines was knocked backwards. The hacker was based in Pakistan, which is bizarre, considering that our services have no sort of connection with that region in any way whatsoever. The opportunity is that; we get to start a new year with a new drive to be better than we have been to date. We get to build afresh, we get to continue our goal to not be just another content site (churning content that rides on the buzz of the moment and fades), but be one that provides value to all our readers. Our readers are not limited to artist, but to anyone that wants to build value and build a brand that gains traction online. Whether you are a rapper, a guitarist, a blogger, a painter or a social media marketer; we want to provide you with valuable content that will see you raise your game in this coming year.
With every year that passes, the formerly underground or “youth” genres are becoming increasingly more mainstream. As a digital trends analyst, I can comfortably attribute it to the simple fact that the more and more people within the age range that appreciated this music are growing into the age range that earns and can pay for products associated with this. We are no longer waiting for the older generations to learn to appreciate these art forms and see enough value in them to spend money. The easiest way to confirm this is by looking at the leaders in what were more mainstream genres in the past, they have been consistent earners over the years. As we move into increasingly digital ages, this will inevitably shift. This trend will continue to sway in this direction, which is great news for artists in the Zim Hip Hop, Zim DanceHall and other such genres.
What should artists focus on in 2017?
Have your own website
I am a big fan of the proactive ones; the ones who are already doing this. Staying abreast or ahead of the curve is essential to remaining a leader and relevant within a growing culture. Why do I need a website? If Facebook or Twitter were to close or pivot in a different direction overnight, where would your marketing stand? We have seen this happen a lot over the years, Hi5, MySpace and so on. Your own website gives you a space that you can call your own and do as you please with.
Building a mailing list:
Internet access is projected to continue to grow in reach and become even better in speed over the next decade+. What this means is that more and more of your fans will want to find your material online and to get in touch with you through this medium. With Twitter and Facebook, you can say that you have a medium, but control is key. You want a medium that is personal to the reader. Think about it, which do you respond better to, an email that you signed up to receive or a blanket message on Facebook? A mailing list is effective because, you understand the readers are interested in your product, they care about what you say. That is why they have given you their email. Every artist needs to create a conversion funnel. The funnel tracks your fans or customers from the time that you first interact with them, all the way until they have reached a goal that you have set for them. The goal could be signing up for a service, if you are a producer, buying a clothing item if you are a designer and perhaps buying your new single when it is released, if you are a musician. Set up to start capturing emails and other fan/client data. Based on current trend, you may choose to focus mainly on email and phone numbers. The phone number will be used for targeted marketing on WhatsApp. There are currently more people who check their WhatsApp messages than those that check emails in the market. Use that data to make better/smarter marketing decisions.
If you are on Blogger you can use the Blogger integrated mail application to collect and keep emails. If you are on WordPress, there are a wide range of plugins that can be used. We have used MailChimp, MailPoet and the Jetpack one. The decision on which to use should be made based on what sort of budget you have at your disposal for it. If you are not looking to spend anything, the JetPack one will do the job.
For the Whatsapp numbers, you can simply save them in your phonebook with an ML suffix i.e. James (ML) for mailing list.
No industry/culture will ever be full backed and lifted by one component. This has for so long been the plight of most of our growing genres. Everyone is a rapper. Everyone is a producer, if they can get a computer and some sort of microphone and some pirated software. 2016 saw a lot more shift from this predicament. Not everyone in Zim Hip Hop/ Dancehall should be in it in the capacity of artists and producers. It is simply not feasible. There is frankly not that many people talented enough to full saturate the market, and we already have enough average and subpar artists to last us the next 20 or so years.
Credible Clothing Brands
Over the last few years there were quite a lot of “brand” that came up and hardly saw the light of day. If your standards are so low that you think that by printing your logo on some apparel, you have created a brand, you are in the wrong industry. I’ve never been very keen on wearing clothing that is crappy, just because my friend “designed it”. Perhaps this was a necessary stage in this growth that we are now seeing. Having enough substandard products makes it a lot easier for the good ones to make an impact when they come onto the market. The bigger wins for clothing brands that sprout from Hip Hop and other cultures is penetrating the wider market. Beginning to go beyond just artists and friends wearing these items, to having them in stores and online catalogues. This is something that has already started, and will continue to grow. This is being pioneered by brands such as Tehn Diamond’s (TND – Tisu Ngoda Dzacho). We did a case study of his Happy Tees in a previous post.
729 – Golden Oldie
730 Apparel by T.L.S
One of the mainstays of the rise of subgenres, is having videos that are worthy being placed on our television stations, videos that you would be pleased to show to people from other countries and genres without fear of being slighted. There was a dark period post Major Playaz’s Come to Party video, which is starting to be lifted from it all. In the words of Synik “You know people, only when they see is when they start to believe”
Formerly iLLCeey, he has made some great videos for himself, as well as collaborated with Aaron Mheta for a recent one.
I’ve just found out that Aaron’s production company is called Black Phantom films. He has been behind some great music video thus far. We expect to see his portfolio further enhanced this year.
If this doesn’t tell you everything that you need to know about Dzenga Visuals, I am not sure that my words will.
Wider Media Coverage
It is only so long that the mainstream media can ignore the surge of these subgenres. More and more artists are being covered in media, on TV and in print. This is great. It is even better when this is done on shows that are not targeted to the audience that would usually consume this material. This is how new fans are reached.
The number of music bloggers is increasing at an impressive rate. This is something to be proud of. The importance of clearly branded music brands is that they are very targeted. When one is featured there, the people who will see it are quite targeted, they are the sort of people who are looking for such material. The next step for these is to start to see endorsement and promo deals filtering into this sector from corporations. It is up to bloggers to start creating platforms that are worth of these things. It is also up to them to approach and show corporations just how viable this can be as a way of reaching specific clientele. Most heads of companies that can enter said partnerships are from a generation that may not be able to see things the way that the younger ones do. If you expect someone to recognise this, and come to find you, you may be waiting for a long time.
The great thing about seeing industries and genres treading uncharted territories is that there is an air of anticipation. Over the years we have had the privilege of seeing Begotten Sun and his cohorts come up with ingenious ways market upcoming projects. The most recent one that comes to memory being that of Jnr Brown’s single “Real Talk – Tongogara.” This was the first time to the knowledge of anyone we’ve spoken where a Zim Hip Hop single was commercialised. To see this done successfully was a treat. We expect to see more and more of these sort of genius moves being made. Software and infrastructure will begin to also be utilised to make this more and more viable.
The South will continue surging.
Perhaps one of the things that will remain memorable about 2016, is the surge of the Southern Rappers. Bulawayo has finally arrived on the scene. I am not ignorant of the fact that there are other artists that have paved the path to the ones who have come on the scene today. The difference is, this time it does not feel like pioneering per say. CalVin has reached heights that most could only have conceptualised in years gone by. Asaph has also made a noteworthy rise in the Hip-Hop circles. It’s beautiful when music begins to permeate from all parts of the nation. There is something unique about each region, there ought to be room for their music. This is an increasing trend. A true sign of maturity in the industry.
Authentic Zim Hip Hop Sounds
Over the years there have been a lot of artists who have come on the scene and claim the tag of Zim Hip Hop, but none have embodied it as Sharky has done. There has always that distinction line that was hard to get rid of. The transition between the thin line of what was once referred to as Urban Grooves, to Zim Hip Hop. Now, King Pinn was Hip Hop; yet his brand of it is was not clearly distinct from what other nations’ Hip Hop sounds like. What Sharky has brought is purity in the form of Zim Hip Hop. His success and continual rise will spurn others of similar skills to go for it as well. It’s a beautiful thing to see. We anticipate a growth in this area.
Perhaps the most notable and highly anticipated in this category is the much-anticipated debut of Zim Hip Hop juggernaut, hitter maker and veteran, Jnr Brown. Beyond his joint album with Tehn Diamond, Few Kings and his the single that he released off this album (“Real Talk/ Tongogara”), we have all been waiting for the Morning Glory for a long time. My hope, and that of many fans will be that this album finally sees the light of day. Maybe 2017 is the year that this will happen.
Artistic Value will rise
After social media became awash with the posts about how a promoter had offered to exploit Sniper Storm, there was a resounding outcry from artists across the country. The value of the artist is becoming more and more recognised, by the artists themselves. This is how any revolution begins, once the oppressed realise, as they have done that they are indeed being oppressed, they will begin to stand up against it. As artists’ value improves, this will trickle down to all sorts of area within the music industry. Artists’ value and influence is what draws more and more endorsements as well. Producers will become better paid as well, as artists earn more. To suggest that this will happen in a moment is naïve, but the time for this progress has come.
In conclusion, I guess we can safely say 2017 will be a significant year for us all. Much love to all the artists, we are routing for you all.