Tela Wangeci is an music journalist, entertainment curator and PR practitioner in Sub-Saharan Africa. In this conversations, she shares her insights into Media Relations in Kenya, East Africa and beyond.
Good evening Tela. How are you, and how’s the weather in Kenya tonight?
Tela: Good evening. I am well, and it’s really windy in Nairobi at the moment but not too cold
So starting off, would you like to share with us how you initially got your foot in the door as a music journalist?
I had my own blog way back, I can’t really remember it’s name. Then in 2020 I got the opportunity to write critique UnKut HipHop Awards 2019, then things grew organically. I started off with reviews, then feature stories eventually owning a podcast.
That’s quite a journey. Right now, what can you say is the predominant music genre or sound in east/sub-saharan africa?
Well, I would say Bongo is pretty popular though, we are getting more into alternative sound. More indie artists are coming up. Apart from that people are experimenting with HipHop. We also have Shrap – a genre in Kenya that is almost becoming a mainstream genre.
That’s interesting. With your professional expertise in music marketing accross the sub-saharan/east african music scene, what would you suggest are the key ingredients that go into a successful marketing campaign?
Strategy and planning is everything. You need to have a plan how you will rollout your project. How long will it take, who is your TA, PR, Social Media campaigns pre and post rollout . This means taking into consideration every aspect of selling the music to the public.
According to Music Business World’s ‘Stat Of The Week’ in July 2020, it is believed that in Africa, about 61% of the music consumed is local music. What does this mean for growing African Artistes who intend to cross country boundaries with their music?
Anything is possible. Artists are currently getting recognition at home .This is opening more doors for collaborations and eventually even receiving awards such as the Grammy’s and BET. It’s also allowing artist to experiment with new sounds/genres creating anthems.
That’s right. You must have followed the social media charade between BlaqBonez and Kaligraph Jones. How do think that friendly beef has influenced and connected music lovers between both geographical zones within Africa?
The beef gave BlaqBonez huge publicity in Kenya. Everyone wanted to know who he is. I feel it’s resulted into listening to more music from Nigeria. Discussions surrounding music growth has moved from seeing each other as competitors but as possible collaborators.
That just tells how controversy can be a good way to spiral one’s reach. What misconceptions do you think people from outside of East Africa have about the music market there?
The first one is that we don’t put enough effort in our music. We might just be learning about the music business but our artists put a lot in their craft. Secondly, The music industry is not as competitive as compared to other regions. East Africans rarely tolerate music not up to par.
We are all learning, and this helps – the new information and clarifying. As a media personnel, what makes an email pitch from a music artiste stand out to you?
Tone. It might sound weird but you can always tell an artist who know what they want. How they present their art to you and how they sell themselves is full of confidence.
Presumably, you’re receiving an enormous amount of great music for a limited amount of slots. What factors asides from the music separates the ones that will get media coverage from the ones that don’t?
1. Artist’s brand 2. PR campaign 3. World situation – I mean is the song relative at the moment or does it suit the current world state.
I think your criteria are valid considering how many artistes look for promotion on a weekly basis. What then would you say are the biggest challenges that come with working in the Music Business in East Africa?
One, there is a huge gap in the music business we don’t have many mentors. I have been fortunate enough to be mentored by someone I greatly admired from before. Also lack of interest from people. Two, GATEKEEPERS – They HINDER growth. And Three, DISRESPECT- from artists and colleagues.
Finally, what are your predictions for the future of the African Music Business in terms of it’s positioning and influence globally?
Africa is about to take over the space. West Africa infiltrated the International space. This is a representation of Africa. I am foreseeing more African representation in areas we were originally left out. More intercontinental work. Growth of the African continent.
We thank Tela for the time she took out to make her contribution towards this conversation and appreciate her efforts in promulgating the music business in Kenya & East Africa. Also for constantly promoting the African Music beyond boundaries.
THIS CONVERSATION WAS POWERED BY MATREME HQ, THROUGH #MAXCHAT