Tafadzwa Zimoyo Senior Arts Writer
Arts promoter, businessman and philanthropist Exevia Maoneke, affectionately known as “Wezhaz’’ in the arts sector, has encouraged musicians to take their art as a business and eke a living out of it.

Maoneke — through his Wezhaz Sports Bar venue in Warren Park which has been a launchpad and home to upcoming and established artistes — said this during an interview with The Herald Arts after noticing how some musicians were struggling to survive during the Covid-19  global pandemic.

The promoter who has worked with local artistes such as Jah Prayzah, Potipher Mopo, Jabavu drive jazz band, Edith Weutonga, Mbeu, Sasha, Wanai, Moyondizvo and Wachari among others said taking music as a career alone is not enough, artistes must professionalise to realise more from their art.

“Every career has its highs and lows, and the Covid-19 induced lockdown is one such unforeseen challenge that has taken many artists by surprise.

“Some had local and international concerts booked, some had album launches planned and all this was aimed at keeping them afloat, but many have been highly affected save for a few that had gone professional and sought other means to reap awards from their work,” he said.

Maoneke said music, like any other trade, is business and it is important to think beyond the stage for income generation.

“Most artistes think the only way to make money is through gate takings and paid live performances, but a lot has changed.

“There are new ways or making money through online sales, YouTube views, endorsement deals as well as investing what you get from live performances into other business lines,” he said.

Maoneke singled out few artistes like Jah Prayzah who have commercialised their craft beyond the stage and are able to launch albums online and still make good                                                                    money.

“Artistes in the mould of Jah Prayzah have demonstrated that it is possible to make money away from the stage.

“While some artistes have stalled their album launches because their thinking is limited to gate takings, Jah Prayzah and his team have launched online and made good sales while generating money from YouTube video views and other endorsement deals plus online performances,” he said.

He said most musicians have fallen on hard times as Covid-19 takes its toll on them and also because bars which are their usual hunting grounds are closed.

“Most artistes are finding the going tough because they only relied on gate takings and public performances for survival.

“It’s unfortunate that we had to close our bars which usually gave them a platform because of the Covid-19 situation. I have personally had to bail some and its really sad,” Maoneke said.

Maoneke, who is the chief executive of Wezhaz Investments incorporating Wezhaz Executive Cars and other retail estate and commodity broking interests, is passionate about the arts.

Earlier this year he partnered with the Zimbabwe Music Awards (Zima) where his company sponsored the Best Video Award which went to Freeman featuring Alick Macheso for the song “Ngaibake”.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Youth, Arts and Recreation has issued a statement highlighting that they are almost done with preparations to disburse the ZWL$10 million Covid-19 artistes relief fund.

A total 2 899 applications were received from various artistes across Zimbabwe who have all suffered from the effects of Covid-19.