SA Music Week Launches

Key take-outs from Day One of the FREE live-streamed music industry conference:

  • South Africa is not alone in the decimation of its live music industry
  • Cross-cultural and continental collaboration is the key to reviving revenue
  • Affordable data needed to include everyone in the 4IR

27 January 2021, Johannesburg – It takes a brave and determined visionary to launch an event during a pandemic that has seen a series of forced lockdowns and mandatory social distancing forever change the way we live, work and play.  Even more so, when it is an international event, streamed live around the world, but that is what Michael Moeti did yesterday 26 January, as he officially opened the first South African Music Week (SAMW).

The live-streamed online event, which is free to watch, got off to a cracking start with a press conference, at which Neill Dixon, President of Canadian Music Week (CMW), also pledged his ongoing support and commitment to helping Moeti, CEO of SAMW, grow the event into a powerhouse.

CMW has been in existence for 38 years and is one of the most influential music markets in the world, hosting over 400 ready-for-export talented artists from Canada and abroad across more than 30 live music venues in Ontario each year. Something South Africa is also aiming for.

Similarly reaffirming their backing of the event, were Ms Ikgopoleng Masisi, Head of Department for the Gauteng and Ms Nontutuzelo Sekhabi:  Director: Performing Arts, Cultural Development Department of Sports Arts and Culture (DSAC)., who acknowledged music’s ability to cross cultural borders and nation build, as well as be a significant contributor to the country’s GDP.  The Department of Sports, Art and Culture, and the Gauteng Province are sponsors of the event, together with Brand South Africa.

Thanking all those who had contributed to making the presenting of SA Music Week possible, Moeti said: “Our country is under siege and our live music industry, the mainstay of many artists and professionals in the industry, has been devastated.  We need to join forces to provide opportunities for everyone involved so that our talent can be seen and experienced around the world, and likewise, foreigners can come here. 

“This is what SAMW is all about – finding those opportunities and addressing what needs to happen to ensure our people can be part of the digital music economy.” Moeti also made mention of South Africa’s exorbitant data tariffs, remarking that the music industry, Government and the private sector needed to work together to bring down the costs of data to stimulate a robust and thriving 4IR – a priority considering that global streaming revenue is up 22% since lockdowns became a reality of COVID-19.

Underlining the music industry’s capacity to be a major contributor to not only South Africa’s economy, but the continent’s, Jonathan Shaw (researcher, Music Producer, Author and lecturer) shared a presentation detailing the facts and figures of the industry.  Importantly, he also shared very useful tips and tools for developing artists looking to grow their audiences in South Africa and across Africa. 

Also sharing insights on how to forge a career that has spanned more than three decades, SAMW’s first global ambassador reminded viewers that passion for their craft and hard work were the key ingredients to success.  “Be ambitious, write about more than love, write about the issues that move society and get your message out there,” he said. 

South Africa is not alone in experiencing the radical shifts and challenges it has faced due to the various lockdowns.  Canada itself, has also confronted enormous trials with Erin Benjamin, head of the Canadian Live Music Association, detailing the loss of livelihoods and the ongoing conversations they are having with government to understand the gravity of the situation and to rectify it. A good lesson for live music operators, is how venues will need to adapt to host live music ventures in the future.

Other speakers throughout the day (which concluded at 19H30), also included practical advice on how to build constituency, where to get music heard and noticed, along with a caution to music bodies to pay out artists with consistency for their efforts – planning after all, is key.

Days Two and Three with yet more pertinent and discerning continent will continue to be broadcast online via www.samw.co.za and all are welcome to attend.

Soweto Sunrise News