Musicians charging top dollar for shows

From left: Musicians Diamond Platnumz (Tanzania), Nadia Mukami (Kenya), Mr Eazi (Nigeria) and Nyashinki (Kenya).

When Nigerian Afrobeat singer, Mr Eazi, boldly revealed how easily the country’s artistes reap up to Sh10 million for shows in Kenya, it was a wakeup call for local musicians.

Mr Eazi admitted that as artistes, they don’t get that much performing in their own country.

“East Africa is arguably the most receptive spot for music. Nobody is going to pay you $100,000 (Sh11.8 million) in Nigeria to do a show or even $60,000 (Sh7 million) to come and jump on stage for a set,” Mr Eazi told Okay Africa in 2019.

“But you can easily get that money by walking into Kenya or Gambia. So those places should be the ones I focus on.”

Mr Eazi’s sentiments fuelled the raging debate on “play Kenyan music” that became a major conversation on mainstream media and online platforms.

Three years later, Nigerian artistes continue to flock to Kenya for shows, though they can no longer command the hefty fees they used to, thanks to the wakeup call.

In the region, Tanzanian star singer Diamond Platnumz leads the park of artistes with the most expensive rate cards.

Diamond Platnumz $70,000 (Sh8.3 million)

As of July 2021, Diamond was charging $70,000 for a show outside Tanzania and $50,000 at home.

The revelations were made by his manager and business associate Sallam SK in an interview on Wasafi TV.

He added that other than the performance fees, event organisers also have to fly the singer in a private jet and cover his meals and accommodation in a five-star hotel.

According to Sallam, the performance fee is non-negotiable. The new rates are an increase from the Sh3 million to Sh5 million he used to charge six years ago for shows outside Tanzania.

Even though there is room for compromise when it comes to performance back home, the majority of Tanzanian promoters still find the Sh5 million rate too expensive.

This explains why Diamond has always organised his own concerts, cashing in from gate collections, sponsorships and vendor sales.

Alikiba – $50,000 (Sh6 million)

Singer Alikiba.

Singer Alikiba.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The singer, who is slated for his first US tour in over four years next month, charges $50,000 (Sh5.9 million).

“Alikiba will take anything between $40,000-$50,000 for shows outside Tanzania. The rates may shoot depending on demand but that’s basically his flat rate charges,”  the source confided.

Harmonize – $25,000 (Sh3 million)

Harmonize

Tanzanian artiste Rajab Abdul Kahali better known by the stage name Harmonize performing during the Koroga Festival on July 22, 2018 at Two Rivers Mall Nairobi.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

After ditching Wasafi Classic, Harmonize increased his charges from $10,000 to $25,000 for shows outside Tanzania.

The amount is negotiable and can come down to $20,000.

But the singer has other prerequisites for his services. He flies business class with his manager and fiancée Frida Kajala. For his two bodyguards, an economy ticket is fine.

During his dramatic visit to Kenya four months ago that saw him arrested and detained at the Kileleshwa Police Station for a couple of hours for allegedly failing to perform at several nightclubs, he still returned home with over Sh2 million.

This was despite the Sh750,000 refund he made to two Nairobi clubs. He had collected the money as advance payment for performances but failed to show up.

Sauti Sol – $40,000 (Sh4.7 million)

Sauti Sol

Sauti Sol band members, from left, Polycarp Otieno, Willis Chimano, Savara Mudigi and Bien-Aimé Baraza. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Kenyan boy band is arguably the most expensive local act. That is why not many local promoters have been able to land them a gig. It is also why most of Sauti Sol’s shows in Kenya are by corporates known for their financial muscle. The performance fee is negotiable but never goes below Sh1 million.

Last week, Sauti Sol performed at the MimiMkenya Peace concert in Nakuru and was paid Sh3.5 million.

In December last year, Sauti Sol staged their first ever show, Sol Fest, which was sold out four days before the concert.

The band’s Sol Generation partnered with Homeboyz Entertainment to put up the show.

Homeboyz CEO Mike Rabar confirmed having sold over 5,000 VIP and regular tickets, with Bien Aime Baraza saying when he appeared on NTV’s The Trend after the concert that over 6,000 revellers attended the performance.

Regular tickets sold for Sh2,500, with a flash sale of Sh25,000 for a group of 10, Sh10,000 for a group of four and Sh5,000 for two. From the ticket sales alone, Sauti Sol made over Sh12.5 million.

It’s also worth noting that Sauti Sol bank more on their Europe tours, where they easily rake in millions of shillings in foreign currencies.

In June, they cancelled their four-week Europe tour over visa hitches that would have seen them traverse 10 countries.

This was the second time the group cancelled the tour, after calling off another last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The tour in the UK and the US would have seen them perform at least in 35 concerts.

Nyashinski – $20,000 (Sh2.4 million)

According to multiple sources – promoters, artistes and agencies – that we spoke to, the “Mungu pekee” hit singer is the solo artiste charging the highest performance fees for a one-hour show.

Just like Sauti Sol, Nyashinski prefers to do a live band performance instead of a playback.

“When we reached out to him for the Part Verse concert, he asked for $20,000 for an hour’s performance with his band, all tax inclusive,” an agent who was part of the show revealed.

Having already paid the headliner of the concert, the Nigerian Mayourn, $25,000, the organisers of the concert backed off.

But Nyashinski’s performance fee is negotiable, though that would depend on other factors.

“If, for instance, he is in partnership with a corporate, then he will not charge such a premium to such a client. There will always be a tailored rate which is always much, much lower and could come down to up to Sh800,000, depending on the kind of partnerships,” a source explained.

Bien Aime Baraza – $7,000 (Sh827,000)

Singer Bien Aime Baraza of Sauti Sol

Singer Bien Aime Baraza of Sauti Sol. 

Photo credit: File

As a solo artiste away from the Sauti Sol duties, over the last one year the “Mbwe mbwe” hit composer Bien has established himself as another hot cake.

Even as a solo artiste since Sauti Sol members decided to launch individual careers last year, Bien doesn’t come cheap, as Party Verse concert organisers found out.

“I think after Nyash (Nyashinki), Bien is the second most expensive artiste in the country at the moment. When we couldn’t agree a deal with Nyash, we went for him. He initially asked for $7,000, but we managed to bring him down to $6,500 (Sh770,000) and he showed up with his band. His live set was dope,” the agent added.

Otile Brown and Khaligraph Jones – $4,500 (Sh500,000)

Otile Brown.

Kenyan RnB sensation Jacob Obunga popularly known as Otile Brown.

Photo credit: Thomas Matiko | Nation Media Group

The two artistes are very close friends and perhaps this explains why their rate cards are more or less the same.

For an hour’s concert performance, Otile charges a minimum of Sh500,000 if the organisers are corporate.

“During our “The Finest” concert last year, we paid him half a million and Jux Sh700,000,” one of the show’s organisers revealed.

During last weekend’s “Yetu Festival” sponsored by Stanbic Bank to the tune of Sh32 million, Otile reportedly took home Sh700,000. Earlier in June, he had pocketed Sh500,000 from the Koroga Festival Show. Jones also charges Sh500,000 for an hour’s show on stage but the rates could go down.

“You might have realised he also does a lot of club appearances, especially for corporate gigs, with EABL being the main victim. Information I have is that he gets pay of between Sh150,000 and Sh200,000 for 30 to 45 minutes,” an agency representative disclosed.

Khaligraph Jones

Kenyan rapper Khaligraph Jones aka Papa Jones during a past live performance in Mombasa.

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

Sol Generation – $4,500 (Sh500,000)

In many instances, Sol Generation artiste Bensoul and Nviiri The Story Teller always come as a package whenever they are booked.

The flat rate for both is Sh500,000 but the price would go up depending on other factors such as how long they will be performing, where and what kind of event they are booked for.

However, our Party Verse concert source said it is cheaper to book both as a package rather than as individuals.

“We only booked Nviiri for the concert and we were charged $2,800 (Sh330,000) and the same applies to Bensoul. I guess it’s economically viable to have them both because they bring different energy,” the source said.

Prince Indah – $4,000 (Sh400,000)

Prince Indah

Prince Indah who recently released a song with Bahati. .    

who recently released a song with Bahati. .    

Photo credit: Pool

In an interview last year with the Nation, the benga singer disclosed that he charged Sh400,000 for a set and the charges vary.

“I always perform with my band throughout the week. My set is always a live one with a band of about 12 people. Towards the weekend, I tend to raise the rates because the demand for my services is always high,” said the “Adhiambo” singer.

Samidoh – $2,600 (Sh300,000)

Mugithi maestro Samidoh

Mugithi maestro Samidoh.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Multiple sources say he charges anything between Sh200,000 and Sh300,000 for a one-hour show. He also does club appearances and the rates tend to drop a little. Last year, he held his first US tour, performing in over 20 concerts and reportedly coming back home Sh4 million richer after the two-month stay abroad.

Nadia Mukami – $4,000 (Sh400,000)

The new mother is currently the most-highly rated and sought-after female entertainer in Kenya, according to most agency representatives and promoters we spoke to.  Nadia charges anything between Sh300,000 and Sh400,000 as a flat rate and this depends on the type of client.

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