THOMAS Alva Edison once said: “Most people miss opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”.
It seems one South African socialite and entertainer, took notes and has turned a simple night out dance into a regional phenomenon since her video went viral about eight months ago.
Born Rebecca Zodwa Libram, it seems the entertainer is now making a living out of doing what she loves best; dancing-and-well, not wearing panties.
The socialite has become one of the most sought-after entertainers in Africa. She caused a stir after appearing at the Durban July in a skimpy all revealing dress and has since appeared in many countries including her recent performance at Club Connect in Bulawayo.
According to reports, Zodwa is believed to have signed deals with Vodka, Angel energy drinks in her native South Africa and is believed to be charging nothing less than ZAR25 000 for appearances as a Master of Ceremonies back home.
Reports suggest that she made about ZAR1 million in deals and endorsements in just one month bringing many to question what really Zodwa’s claim to fame and fortune is.
Let’s face it, to call Zodwa a dancer will be an insult to many, based on all the videos that have gone viral, it seems she has that one dance where she goes down, lifts that famous Savanna then always ends with that trademark pose, where she lifts one leg and the usual bum shaking.
Yes, Zodwa can groove to a song or two, she is a “beautiful” lady and really has a “bright future behind her”, (pun-intended) but I believe I have seen better and daring dancers than her, for instance, Beverly Sibanda who is not only flexible but also took bottles to openings and surroundings no bottle maker ever imagined.
Zodwa Wabantu has been turned into a sensation more by her “pantyless” declaration and the skimpy clothes but that again is not unique?
What then makes Zodwa, the star that she is and taking in as much money as she is, as compared to the many “socialites” and artists in Zimbabwe? I believe they are some things that local artists can learn from the rise to fame of Zodwa.
Seizing the moment, turning it into a trademark. Zodwa’s fame came after her video went viral while having fun with friends and upon realising how popular the video became, the socialite took advantage of the moment, made more videos and it became a trademark that she is known for to date.
Before the video, Zodwa was just a patron at the spot enjoying drinks and dance but she seized the opportunity and now we all address her as a dancer and entertainer. Many local artists fail to capitalise on their moments and turn them into trademarks and or careers. A lot has been happening on social media and artists have failed to turn it into equity.
When Oliver Mtukudzi coughed during a recording, they did not redo the project they made it a trademark. Jamaican Reggae star, Jah Cure, took advantage of the moment when he was incarcerated for rape releasing an album titled, True Reflection, riding on the free Jah Cure campaign.
Branding is important for artists and a good brand always communicates its intentions and expectations to music fans.
Branding also means that an artist must create a selling point; a good selling point answers the question why we should buy your product.
Zodwa has branded herself as a dancer and entertainer though we might argue she is not, she has linked her brand to her curvy and savvy body, the no panty declaration, the unkempt hair and that is exactly what patrons look for when they book her for appearances.
Many local artists lack a clear defined brand, for instance, there is always debate over whether Jah Prayzah is a reggae artist, adult contemporary artist or recently more of an RnB musician.
Is Energy Mutodi a rhumba or sugura artist? Is Dereck Mpofu even an artist? Is Beverly a contemporary dancer, a stripper or pole dancer?
Who is Andy Muridzo, music wise? Tocky Vybz experimented on Toti Toti and his fans could not identify with the product with their expectations and that was the beginning of the end, never mind that the album actual makes a good listen.
An artist must be branded and they must deliver as their brand suggests, many “beefs” in world music are just but there to reinforce the brand and selling point.
Also missing in the local music industry is management. If anything is missing in the local music industry, it is management. Many local artists have failed because they either lack proper or do not have proper management.
Zodwa Wabantu now has popular label Afrotainment handling all her pantiless, same old dance and unkempt hair appearances, and the partnership has brought in millions of rands.
Gone are the days when one would grab the nearest person, usually a friend, rather hanger-on and make them a manager. One should be qualified at least with basic business principles, an understanding and passion of the industry.
The difference between Winky D, Jah Prayzah and the rest is in management.
This writer recalls going through hell and back to get Blot’s contact number for a prospective booking. Artists must engage managers that have key result areas and a band or artist must be managed like any business entity.
Social media also makes a difference. Zodwa has taken advantage of the huge international audience to market her act. There are always videos on YouTube of her acts and updates of her appearances, and this also is management’s role. Some local artists are either not on social media or they have since forgotten that they have social media accounts.
These social media platforms should also be a mirror of the brand, I believe Zodwa will show her pantiless curves only on her social media sites but when she is with her family, she probably would be a different person, and the idea is to enhance the brand.
The role of the support services in promoting art must not be underestimated. The role of DJs, promoters, stylists, PR, corporates, management, night club owners, booking agents must not be underestimated. In fact it should be respected as they all play a part in building a brand.
Budding artists must be given slots at night clubs so that they perfect their art and products before they dare the bigger stages. Zodwa’s success was born in a night club.
The business world must also invest in art through meaningful endorsements and funding, artists are opinion leaders and the business world must take advantage of that for mutual benefits.
Zodwa might not be the most talented entertainer in the world but she has her style and selling point and judging by the way fans in Bulawayo jostled to get a glimpse of the entertainer, it’s fair to assume that she is indeed enjoying the thrills of nakedness and the unkempt hair. Let’s face it; that’s the only thing we can remember her for.