Why failed events spell doom for the kenya music industry

Kavi Pratt performing at City Cabanas as one of the curtain raiser at Alaine's Extravaganza Concert

Kavi Pratt performing at City Cabanas as one of the curtain raiser at Alaine’s Extravaganza Concert

At the dawn of 2015, as is tradition, thousands of Kenyans thronged entertainment spots across the country to usher in the New Year with the celebratory pomp and colour that is characteristic of the global event.

For a section of revellers, however, the much-anticipated cheer failed to materialise and was instead replaced by a mixture of disappointment, anger and frustration as some of the major parties failed to launch.

In Mombasa, the Vegas in Kenya New Year’s Eve party hosted by Daybreak Events and sponsored by Magnum Cream Liqueur, came a cropper as pumped up party goers were received by lock and key when they attempted to access the venue.

Over in Machakos, artistes got into a deadlock with the Macha NYE Party event promoter that resulted in the cancellation of some of the scheduled performances on the second night of the festival, significantly watering down the event’s outcome.

While the ensuing blame games and bickering are, naturally, expected aftermath of these and other similar scenarios, the greater overarching implications have far more significant impact, not only on the brands involved, but the larger entertainment industry as a whole.

When a much-hyped event fails to happen and the blame is not mother nature or something beyond one’s capacity, the industry suffers. Fans are dejected and they become lethargic in future.

Corporate brands are heavily affected as many tend to blame them for the failed event.

So bad was the fallout from the Machakos event that even the County Governor, Dr Alfred Mutua, had to tweet about it. “I am very unhappy with Carlos, the Macha concert event organiser & promoter.

He has not paid artists & owes my county close to Kshs 1M.”

In a statement posted on his Facebook profile hours after the cancellation of the Vegas In Kenya event, celebrity decksman Eric Mwendwa popularly known as DJ Hypnotiq said:

“…I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to all my fans and supporters who came down to Mombasa to celebrate the New Year with me at the Vegas in Kenya concert.”


He continued: “As performers, it is important for us to give clear information to people about what happens in situations like this.

Even while we were not the organisers or promoters of the event, we are the ones at the forefront because they see our photos in all the publicity and resulting information. We have to ensure our fans know we are sincere to them.”

According to him, the first step for any entertainer in a similar situation should be to immediately issue an official statement on what transpired to their fans via social media platforms.

The next step, he adds, should be to push for an immediate refund of ticket sales from the organisers to cushion fans from prolonged back-and-forth tossing

“As performers, we are safeguarded by our contracts, which allow us to pursue legal options with the organisers in the event that negotiations fail to produce reasonable results,” he says.

“Because of this, we are empowered to act to ensure that sneaky individuals do not mess around with our work because when it comes down to it, we are a business like any other.”

But it’s a lot more complicated for other stakeholders. Take Josiah Otupah, CEO of Showbiz Entertainment, for instance; “As equipment suppliers, we are the most invested in this business, both by the financial scale of our investments and the nature of our business,” he says.

“When an event flops, sponsors lose confidence and this directly affects our long-term business since they become less inclined to fund entertainment projects, which alters the returns on our investments.”

Indeed, for the entire events supply chain, the resultant losses in finances, reputation and motivation imply negative reverberating effects for existing and potential investors in light of the suggested risk considerations associated with the business of entertainment.

“Such situations are frustrating and disappointing but they have taught us to exercise caution and due diligence when taking on such ventures in the future,” says a senior representative of Liquid Africa, which sponsored both the Machakos and Mombasa events via the Magnum Cream Liquer brand.

Following the double disaster witnessed in January, skepticism is rife among industry players, but there also seems to be a renewed desire to streamline entertainment affairs.

“As a personal decision, I have resolved not to leave my house for any event in which the slightest terms of agreement have not been honoured.

The problem is, some might see this as arrogance or high headedness, but it is a necessary move based on recent experiences,” muses Octopizzo, adding that he has chosen to “use the Machakos experience as an opportunity to call for artistes to stand against such unprofessionalism by pursuing legal and punitive action against rogue promoters. Let’s not display weakness by leaving it at social media bickering. At least that’s what I intend to do.”

His sentiments are shared by Mr Otupah: “We need to establish associations and organisations to separate the jokers from serious players,” he suggests. “That way, we can advise, monitor and safeguard each other around such unnecessary encounters.”

“What happened with Vegas in Kenya does not alter my resolve to take the Mombasa showbiz scene to the next level,” quips Mike Macheda, who was part of the team consulted to hold the party.

“We have too much to accomplish. It would take much more than a few insincere characters to knock down our hustle.”

But Macha NYE Concert executive producer Henry Carlos Kioko advises that nothing is lost. “As far as we are concerned, the event was a success.

We had set objectives and while there are certain factors that prevented the intended end result, all our partners and sponsors are well advised and in agreement with the next actions we plan to take.”




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