The inevitable death of music groups
The Tswazis this week confirmed what industry insiders long suspected, that one of their members has been booted out of the group.
It emerged that the third member was ousted from the group because he had waned in his commitment to the group, missing rehearsals and a performance here and there.
However this case is not new in the local music industry, with most groups hardly living to see 5 years together with their original members.
Most notably, award-winning, internationally acclaimed duo, Gal Level, disbanded a little over three years ago at the height of their career.
At the time of the split, both women maintained that they were merely taking a five year hiatus and would regroup after that.
Months later, both had begun their pursuit of solo careers, adding fuel to the fire that the duo had been pitted against each other and would never reunite.
It has been less than a year since Stardust debut their first album, and managed to trump over veterans to walk away with four awards at the Namibian Annual Music Awards (NAMAs) and the rumour mill has already churned out whispers of their demise.
The general consensus is that the duo will soon split as one of the girls is planning on studying abroad, naturally, one can’t have a musical group with the members living in different countries.
Internationally acclaimed groups have a longer lifespan, but their demise too is inevitable. No less than a month ago, the boy band that had stolen the hearts of millions of teenage girls and women’s hearts around the globe, One Direction, announced that one of its members was leaving.
The group that catapulted Justin Timberlake to fame, ‘Nsync, was disbanded at its peak, only for the former to go on to garner a successful solo career.
The emerging trend when these groups disband is that one of them goes on to pursue a solo career, while the others take a back seat ride, fading with memory.
Sula Kyababa of Ogopa Butterfly and the manager of former girl group Gal Level, explained that for groups to be successful they need to share the same dream and have the same goals for the future.
“Record labels often have a hard time signing music group because they tend to split up. Groups consist of individuals from different backgrounds, take the Angels for examples, they were goof friends but their parents had different plans for them so they split up,” he said.
He further added that Gal Level had the potential to be one of the longest living groups but they were waylaid from their tracks by various issues.
“Female groups are especially tricky because one of them will want to get married and start a family, or their spouse may not approve or they just have different goals,” Kyababa said.
He noted that groups not only extended to people singing together on stage but also bands because the artist would not execute their performance well without their backing.
Owner of Deal Done Records (DDR) and Antonio’s Art Djokic Bozidara Dragan, also commonly known as Antonio, attributed the failure of music groups to money.
“It is my understanding that in the case of the Tswazis it was a matter that one of them had a job and could not put in the same amount of time. However with most groups it’s a case of money, it’s always a matter of one person feeling that they do more work and they should get money,” he stated.
His observation is not off the mark. Every artist in a group often has their own skills that they bring to the table, but only some skills, those at the forefront like singing abilities and performance, are often recognised. The group member who receives recognition then feels that they do more work, and demand more money than the rest.
“Leadership among younger groups is lacking. They are never sure who is leading them which is important for the success of the group,” Big Ben said.
The award winning artists who has a band of his own that he has been with for years, said that most music groups are comprised of friends who do not think of discussing the technical aspects of being a group.
“They think that having passion is enough, they don’t discuss their future, how to handle their money and they do not educate themselves on copyright and management issues.
“When these problems eventually arise they become frustrated and begin distrusting each other, at least that is what it looks like from afar,” he explained.
Ever the advocate of unity in the industry, Big Ben urged that all manner of groups and bands and genres should begin workshops were they share ideas. He also added that groups, no matter how close they are as friend should reach agreements that cover the technical issues of their music.
Although the disbanding of groups makes the future look bleak for those who want to follow in their footsteps, there are a few success stories.
There are plenty of groups such as Penilane, Famaz Attack, Ndilimani Cultural Troupe, Ugly Creature, to name a few are examples of successful groups, although they do not conform to most people’s definition of a group.
The general consensus on how groups can enjoy a successful, long career, is by discussing all manner of technical issues before they even begin record songs, and signing agreements that will cover all parties when things don’t work out.
by Faith Haushona-Kavamba