Upcoming filmmakers and musicians are resorting to screening snippets of their productions and paying commuter operators to play their music in their kombis, as a way to market their work.
The shortage of broadcasters in Zimbabwe, which has only two television stations and six radio stations which mainly broadcast international content and productions from established artists, has driven this do-it-yourself approach.
Filmmakers screen their films from televisions balanced on top of their cars at the Copacabana and Fourth Street terminii in the CBD.
They can be found during the peak hours when there is highest human traffic. As people pass by, they are captured by scenes from the film, enticing them to buy the full production for as little as a dollar.
Some actors even go the extra mile by staging live scenes from their productions.
Film producer and actor Lloyd Kurima a.k.a Mabla 10 explains: “We are working in the creative industry so the lack of adequate funding should not stop one from producing a good film.”
He said one has to use creativity and imagination to source finance by coming up with fresh marketing approaches.
Mabla casts popular celebrities to hype his productions. In his upcoming comedy Bag Rabvaruka 3, which is set to be released later this year, Mabla has enlisted reggae star Winky D, sungura maestro Alick Macheso and Jah Prayzah.
He has also been engaging business people, including grocery shop owners in his area, to advertise his comedy series.
Another self-marketing technique is for musicians to pay commuter operators at least $5 to play their music to their passengers.
Commuter Tafadzwa Muranganwa says: “When music is being played in kombis you have no option but to listen. Though this may be a pain sometimes it has helped me know some musicians and songs I did not know.”
Having music constantly being played in commuters has seen several musicians gaining popularity, among them Emegy Chizanga a.k.a Freeman and Blessing Shumba.
Gospel musician Obadiah Mutsvangi says: “Our music is not selling much in record bars as piracy offers it at cheaper prices in the street so we have decided to take our music to the people to compete with piracy on the streets.”
Original CDs usually cost $5 to $15 in record bars depending on the popularity but many people opt for pirated copies which can be sold for as little as 50c.
“Trying to compete with piracy means we end up selling low quality products,” said Mutsvangi.
Some musicians also pay sales representatives to play their music in their retail shops and outside on the street to attract listeners. These include established musicians such as Kudzai Nyakudya and Zimpraise.