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Should media outlets prioritize local music?

The recent protest by Kenyan music artists advocating for more airplay of local content has spurred new developments in the Kenyan music industry. Following the protest on 10 August, the government responded with the launch of the national music policy draft after a long process of drafting since the policy was first suggested in 2007.

Leading artists David Mathenge (aka Nameless) and Roy Smith Mwatia (aka Rufftone) also convened a meeting at the GoDown Arts Centre on 12 August with artists from the secular and gospel music industries to explore the issues affecting artists.

On Wednesday 19 August, stakeholders in the Kenyan music industry met to discuss various issues that are affecting the Kenyan music industry on Al Jazeera’s ‘The Stream’ show. Contemporary Benga artist Shipton Onyango (aka Winyo),Muthoni the Drummer Queen, DJ Edu and soul/R&B singer Kwame explored the issue: should Kenyan radio and TV stations prioritize local music?

Besides the media airtime issue, the panelists also discussed concerns like who should be held responsible for ensuring local music makes it onto the radio. With the new music policy launched, it leaves observers wondering whether this is enough to reignite Kenya’s music industry.

‘The Stream’ is a social media community with its own daily television programme, focusing on stories that are ongoing, global, and sourced from social media. It shares the platform with artists, celebrities and intellectuals who are an integral part of the social media community. The show was streamed live online here from 19:25 GMT, followed by 30 minutes for the televised portion of the programme. After the programme, further audience participation was encouraged with an exclusive 10-minute online post-show.

It is not only Kenyan that is experiencing unrest over the dominance of foreign music. In countries like Gambia, similar issues have arisen, prompting some artists to ask for foreign music to be banned from local airwaves.

Watch highlights from the discussion in the video below.