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By Kekeletso Nakeli

Columnist


Artists are walking a tightrope

Musicians are not treated fairly. The arts department must step up, as artists deserve fair pay and empowered voices.


There’s a chokehold over our artists and it is not letting go. It is holding on to their lives in a relentless way. Legends aren’t living long – long enough to see their works fully celebrated. ALSO READ: ‘I’m heartbroken like everyone else’- DJ Sbu on Zahara’s death Whatever the real reason for the loss of life and the dependency-related issues that arise from the same industry, those that sing and speak to our souls with their crafts are struggling. We hear stories in the industry of artist exploitation. The exploitation is so bad that as parents we feel it…

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There’s a chokehold over our artists and it is not letting go. It is holding on to their lives in a relentless way.

Legends aren’t living long – long enough to see their works fully celebrated.

ALSO READ: ‘I’m heartbroken like everyone else’- DJ Sbu on Zahara’s death

Whatever the real reason for the loss of life and the dependency-related issues that arise from the same industry, those that sing and speak to our souls with their crafts are struggling.

We hear stories in the industry of artist exploitation. The exploitation is so bad that as parents we feel it safer to steer our children away from entertainment.

Why should they put in the effort, only to receive a pittance for their work?

The contracts that record labels lock starry-eyed hopefuls into, that leave them performance-fatigued with empty bank accounts, those contracts that leave artists disillusioned and hopeless, those are the ones that slowly begin to eat away at any joy of being in the entertainment industry and thriving.

ALSO READ: ‘May her melodies continue to echo in our hearts forever’ – Zahara’s family

Young artists are walking a tightrope at this life in the entertainment industry. If by some unfortunate circumstance one goes to bed with wolves, freeing oneself becomes an arduous challenge.

So much goes into making the artwork, so much also goes into earning their worth. While others will ask why the artists get into the contracts, we have to consider that for many artists, the latter is the obscure poverty that exists in their everyday lives.

Their daily bread seems bleaker and while many underhanded executives coin it on the vulnerability of the talent, the artists are caught between a rock and a hard place. It almost seems that the more an artist is exploited, the more the executives enjoy their payday.

WATCH: Katlego Maboe remembers Zahara in song, as memorial service details are revealed

I link this not to the death of Zahara, but her cries and battles were loud and could not be ignored. She fought her battles in public, even though she was mocked for her challenges.

They were the unspoken battles of many others artists. We need to start being honest about the reality of that industry, the importance of financial literacy going into that space.

The department of arts and culture should be more vocal on the plight of artists and be the medium to fair practices… it’s unfortunate that artists are so exploited.

This should be an opportunity to teach and empower, instead.

ALSO READ: Zahara gone, but her music lives on

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