Rising Kigali event management on the spot over quality

Sunday October 22 2017

Nigerian musician Tekno Miles performs in Kigali

Nigerian musician Tekno Miles performs in Kigali at the recent My 250 Concert. His performance faced criticism from some enthusiasts. PHOTO | ANDREW KAZIBWE 

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With Rwanda’s entertainment industry growing, event management is a venture many are taking up.

Now, there are worries as the quality of some events is wanting.

For example, promising headlining acts have ended up holding microphones, and singing to back-up tracks much to the chagrin of revellers. Musicians including Uganda’s Navio, Sheebah Karungi to Nigeria’s Patoranking and Runtown, among others, have either held a playback or semi-live performance.

“Tekno Miles is a big name, considering the way the event was advertised, I am very disappointed that he hasn’t performed live as promised. I feel cheated,” remarked a reveller, after Nigerian artist’s Kigali event dubbed My 250 Concert in September.

“It’s a sign of growth. Unlike years ago, it is evident how Rwandans can realise and judge true art,” explains Eric Kirenga of Afrogroov, a Rwandan events management company.

Mr Kirenga’s events, which are live, revolve around a smaller venue, which accommodate an audience of between 100 to 150 people.

To him, a fully live performance requires costly quality input through sound and band presence. For this, he prefers a smaller venue, with quality sound and technical alignment, with a smaller set, which delivers a great experience.

Although some have turned out a success, others have not. Such events usually pop up a week or few days ahead. With these, the only issues considered by most are sound and the venue’s ambience, and barely any prior rehearsals by headlining acts.

For example, My 250 Concert was nearly called off, when Tekno Miles failed to show up a day before the performance. The musician flew in to Kigali close to two hours before his performance, described by many as semi-live, thanks to the DJ and staged band.

“This usually results in organisers booking an artist only when they learn that he is holding a performance in the neighbouring countries. At most, not much can be expected from such acts, since they are exhausted, yet they hold no time for a quality stage delivery,” explains Veejay Nano, an event organiser.

“Surprisingly, most of main stage acts are paid more than local musicians, yet we’ve seen many local musicians delivering more impressively and fully live performances in the same events,” remarked Arnold Kabera, a rising Afro-beat musician.

The fact that most people are jumping on what is popular also kills the quality of any art.

“Most musicians are ushered in for concerts basing on the sole fact that they hold thousands or millions of YouTube views, which organisers use as proof to sponsors, but this doesn’t necessarily assure one of a quality artistic presentation,” explains Mr Kirenga.

Kirenga adds that some artists are tricky and just mind about the money, than the experience to leave behind.

“Since at most, booking these requires at least a 50 per cent payment ahead of their appearance,” Mr Kirenga explains.

But some artists feel it is too harsh to expect the same quality.

“Not everybody is at the same level. Sometimes people’s music or set is bigger than them, yet others don’t necessarily come from a live music background, and not years of hard work,” explains Nigerian Afro R&B musician Deborah Oluwaseyi Joshua alias Seyi Shay.

Shay adds that it isn’t entirely the attitude of most artists to deliver such performances, but some songs require backing sound tracks so as to capture the fullness in performance.