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MBABANE – Hefty price to record.

In Eswatini, for an artist to do a live recording close to E200 000 is needed to cater for all the logistics. A live recording is done by artists as a way of developing their craft and get to sell it in a packaged form as a video and audio format. The Entertainment Desk has noted that locally, a live recording is an expensive exercise, yet it’s a needed commodity for an artist in the industry. Some local artists who have recently done live video recordings include; Nothando Dlamini, Phetsile Masilela, Nduduzo Matse as well as Mpela Mndawe to name a few. These artists had to fork out a lot of money in making the recordings successful, as they have to cater for pre-preparations such as pre-rehearsals which costs a lot of money on its own.

During an investigation done by this publication, an anonymous source from one of the local reputable companies that specialises in doing live video and audio recordings revealed that it charges over E180 000 for  a whole production, if  a local artist has partnered with it in doing the recording. A whole production is the kind of production which is classified as a major production. It is worth noting that there are two kinds of live recordings namely; minor scale recording as well as major scale recording.


A local producer and a veteran in the industry, Siya Sukati, explained the two types of recordings, where he described the processes involved as well as the costs associated with them. “When it comes to live recordings, we usually have two different kinds. There is a live recording which is on a minor scale and then there is a recording that is done on a major scale. A live recording on a minor scale may cost you plus minus E180 000 and then, a recording which is on a major scale includes proper lighting,  which costs more than E150 000 and proper sound can never cost you less than E120 000. “So a major scale live recording may cost you plus or minus E350 000, note that we have not yet discussed post-production as there is your pre-production, production as well as post-production.

“These are other production stages, which will require their own amount of money. The post production, for instance, is a stage where you will be overdubbing the songs and then the same vocals that you paid during the recording event come as a different story when you are now expected to do post production, as you will be expected to pay for them according to the songs that you want to do and this may cost you plus or minus E6 000,” Sukati shared.

“After the post production stage there is mixing and mastering. Mixing on its own can cost you plus or minus E15 000 or E25 000 and there is mastering, which is done for each song, it can cost around E1 500 per song. Then there are also the visuals guys, who usually wait for the final mastered production as they mix the visuals with the audio. The visuals can either be paid fully for both capturing and mixing, so roughly a major production can cost you a clean E400 000 and then a minor may cost you around E220 000. This is a very costly exercise but what we do currently to minimise the costs is that we settle for partnerships with the local recording companies. Half of the time Destiny Group helps out on that.

“They have done a lot in curbing the high costs paid by artists who do live recordings, in the sense that they come with the sounds, lighting, stage as well as the cameras for capturing visuals. This eliminates most of the challenges that our local artists face when it comes to live recordings. Basically, if artists are in partnership with such companies, you will find that they pay nothing less than E100 000, which at least brings out a proper quality of production,” Sukati added.


One of the local Gospel artists Nothando Dlamini, who has recently done a live recording, which is still yet to be released, pleaded with relevant ministries locally to support artists, especially when doing live recordings as their objective for the recordings was to minister the word of God among citizens as well as fans. “Doing a live recording is expensive, doing it in studio appears to be easier but even then, it is expensive. When we ask for support from other people, it’s just a way of showing how demanding and expensive such assignments are. We would like to appeal to the relevant ministries and associations that when we approach them to ask for support, may they please do so. “In Eswatini, the standard of music production has not yet reached the same level as South Africa (SA), where they get benefits such as royalties. We are asking that if there is a way they can assist us, can they do so as we are preaching the word through our music.

If we were able to also get those royalties maybe the situation can be better for us when doing these live recordings,” Dlamini said. Artists in the circular industry, an industry which includes genres such as Hip Hop and Gqom also had something to say in regards to the high expenses that come with live recordings. Local Gqom sensation Mnation, who has been recently involved in a video shoot of his successful single ‘Limuva Lami’, said the high demand required a thick budget. “Being a super-ambitious artist comes with super high standards and the consistent demand to stay globally relevant. Unfortunately all these high standards demand a thick budget. Since one is always working under bad financial conditions, one has found themselves always having to improvise, but without compromising on the quality of our work.


“The other thing  I can advice artists is; rather not make a video when the finances are not looking too good, but focus on promoting the music on social media and performances until things improve, and once they improve, then one can do a video and bet on it that it will be world-class. I would rather never do a video than do it poorly because of budget constraints, see my ‘Limuva Lami’  video on YouTube for more information,” Mnation shared. Upscale Live’s Melusi ‘ThreeT’ Simelane, who is an Artist Manager, shared with this publication that the high expenses do not only hamper the progress of artists but also those of record labels. “Our industry is still developing, so there is less cash seculating in the space making it hard for record labels and artists to make enough money that can be invested back into the craft. Doing a live video recording or putting together a show is very much expensive, which makes it hard for me as an artist manager to think of even trying to do one for any of the artists I represent, because without any funding our creativity will be limited, and the quality of the product will be compromised making it not to sell,” Simelane said.

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