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The crystal ball: Only the prepared will win

Monday January 14 2019

Muthoni the Drummer Queen.

Muthoni the Drummer Queen. PHOTO| FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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It is that time of year again, and contrary to popular belief, the turning of a calendar page doesn’t actually bring change. A New Year does bring hope, but as a wise man once said nothing changes until you do, and our crystal ball predicts that some things will remain as they have always been.

In 2018 we predicted that Kenyans will line up in their thousands, pay top dollar for foreign headliners and wake up the next day to complain about it on Twitter.

True to form they did exactly that, the latest example being the Wasafi Festival on New Year’s Eve. Despite the flawless publicity and hype around the event, the performances didn’t live up to the expectations.

We also predicted that the Kenyan artistes who executes a convincing collabo with a relevant African artistes would cross borders, unfortunately none really did and a new year will not change that.

If Kenyan artistes continue treating music marketing as an option rather than a necessity then foreign acts will definitely dominate the land scape as they have in the past.

We had also predicted that 2018 was the year of the investors and many tried their hand at showbiz. Although some burnt their fingers, those who knew what they were doing had a very good day at the office.


2018 was the year of "Lamba Lolo", "Ndundaing", "Malewedhe", "Two in One" and a host of other sing along hits that rocked our air waves.

It was also a year of great albums like Kaligraph’s Testimony 1990, King Kaka’s EastLando Royalty, Redsan’s Baddest and Decimal records Decimator.

Our showbiz crystal ball predicts that online gifs and memes will continue to popularise songs. In 2019 artistes who can generate an online craze around their music will do very well for themselves.

As for foreign music, unless Kenyan acts google the meaning of publicity, prepare for more Nigerian, Tanzanian, South African, Congolese and American music on our radios.

International acts invest heavily in publicising their music and distributing it beyond their borders, but many Kenyan artistes don’t.

Niche market music is also expected to go mainstream, last year Blinky Bill, Tetu Shani, Phy and MDQ scored major international gigs and made big moves in the industry. Though their music is still not considered mainstream, they are too big to ignore and 2019 will definitely be their year.

“I see King Kaka doing a major US tour this year, and Kaligraph is going to do great in West Africa,” veteran showbiz bigwig Budah Blaze said. “Kenyan artistes need to stop complaining about Tanzanian and Nigerian stars; clean up your act and focus on your own career. In 2019 go big or go home.”


They are the backbone of the showbiz industry and last year we saw the good, bad and the ugly in equal measure. Though a good number of investors made a killing, there were many sad and unfortunate stories.

Our crystal ball predicts multiplied millions will be poured into all kinds of events and those who know what they are doing will laugh all the way to the bank. With more fancy clubs and lounges popping up all over the country, event organisers will have to put on a really good show to bring revellers to the gates.

“We can’t fake it till we make it anymore; audiences are smarter now and they are not afraid to complain,” producer Tim Rimbui said. “This is the age of Twitter, if you do a good job fans will blow you up, if you disappoint them, they will destroy you. You saw what people did to Wasafi Festival, everyone was bashing the main act, but praising Naiboi for his performance; no one is immune.”

He also predicts that for the first time in a long time, singers rather than rappers will dominate the industry. Those who can sing really well and put together management teams to handle their business will be big in 2019.

Show me the money

For the wise and strategic, multiplied millions were made last year and that harvest season is predicted to go into 2019.

Corporates invested more in Kenyan showbiz brands with more endorsement deals and event sponsorship than the previous year. Though comedians, media personalities and social media influencers were a major focus, artistes got a fair share of the pie.

Our crystal ball predicts that the showbiz players who are creative with their business modules and generate value for their sponsors and audiences will see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

With more millennials joining the workforce, more marketing dollars will be committed to reach that audience as sponsors seek to cash in on their disposable income. In equal measure, performers and industry players who appeal to this market are expected to have a very prosperous 2019.

“Companies are wiser now, they have realised that people are buying likes and followers so they are looking beyond the numbers,” CEO of Password Ventures Faki Liwali explains.

“There is a lot of money to be made if you can demonstrate that you have real influence over your followers. I see a lot of investment going to digital platforms and event technologies to improve stage delivery.”

The acquisition of Kenyan label, AI records, by Universal last year, was seen by many as a signal of things to come. Though several labels have a presence in the country, none has put boots on ground or solidified their investment.

“I believe 2019 is the year we see a major record label set up shop in Kenya,” Tim Rimbui predicts. “Law firms are also investing more in entertainment law, and this will give the industry more legitimacy and order. We also expect the government to increase its support especially with several copyright, content and royalty bills in the pipeline.”

Showbiz Trends

In the internet age, there is no telling which way the wind will blow, last year a host of trends hit the industry from every which way. Whether it was the kiki dance, where people were dancing a long side a moving car, or the Malewedhe dance where people were falling aimlessly sometimes endangering their lives.

“It’s about time a Kenyan ratchet song made global headlines, pia sis tumefika bei,” Rimbui added.