On the 1-2 April 2013 Black Mango hosted the Breathe Sunshine African Music conference. This conference focused on creating conversations about the state of the African music industry and furthermore, talk about what the next steps towards the improvement of the industry. I was lucky enough to attend the conference. As a young artist manager, I must say, this conference created an environment in which my questions could be answered by people who matter.
One of the sessions that stood out was a panel discussion about the future of Electronic music in Africa. With a broad topic such as this, it covered a whole range of topics- distribution of music, management, branding, collaboration and the way forward. The panel was made up of Shaun Duvet, Euphonik, Sibot, Niskerone and DJ Diloxclusive (to name but a few). With these diverse perspectives it was very interesting to hear how the same issues continued to plague the panellists and the audience. Here are a few:
Branding– Artists need to start treating themselves as a brand. Just like bank or a restaurant would treat their product and the way in which they are perceived an artist must do the same. They have to ensure that whatever they are doing delivers on the promise of providing professional, crafted and entertaining product for their audience and to solidify their place in the music industry.
Management– there is a lack of good music and artist management in Africa. Artists often manage themselves which is the wrong attitude. When this happens often artists forget about the talent and are only concerned about the hustle. Trust me, artist management in this country combines a range of jobs, from bookings to the artists wellbeing, the artist manager doe is all. There needs to be an environment in which managers can learn from others and manage artists in such a way that it can be a coherent career.
Collaboration– It is extremely important for artists from different genres and countries in Africa to collaborate to make music. By doing this African electronic artists will be able to create a unique African electronic sound and will open up the musical boarders in Africa.
Support Local music– Radio stations and the government need to start actively supporting local music instead of just saying that they do. In countries like Nigeria and Senegal, which have wonderful music industries, radio stations have to play 70% local music. Now people are exposed to a local flavour of music and thus buy the music, go to the concerts and become advocates their music. This does not happen in South Africa but is a movement that needs to occur.
In essence, the African music industry needs to come alive, in all aspects. It needs to reject mediocrity and start taking care of its artists. It is of vital importance that the industry needs to become more open to sharing talents and expertise so that this industry can move forward. Africa rise up and celebrate the sound of our hearts.