Lo­cal 90% mu­sic dead, long live lo­cal mu­sic!

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Wes­ley Diphoko is the head of In­de­pen­dent Me­dia’s Dig­i­tal Lab.

THE SABC in­terim board has killed the con­tro­ver­sial 90 per­cent lo­cal mu­sic pol­icy, which aimed to pro­mote lo­cal mu­sic on SABC plat­forms. The move was wel­comed by some in the in­dus­try and re­jected by those who felt it was badly im­ple­mented.

Now that this pol­icy is gone, the ques­tion that should be fore­most on the minds of mu­sic lov­ing South Africans is the fol­low­ing: who and how will we look af­ter the un­pol­ished mu­sic tal­ent in South Africa?

The mu­sic in­dus­try is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing global chal­lenges due to dis­rup­tive tech­nol­ogy.

Mu­si­cians need fur­ther sup­port to ad­vance eco­nom­i­cally.

And al­though the 90 per­cent lo­cal mu­sic move was driven by ques­tion­able char­ac­ter/s in a ques­tion­able process, we should not throw the baby out with the bath wa­ter.

The ob­jec­tive of the lo­cal mu­sic promotion drive is pure and should re­ceive se­ri­ous at­ten­tion if the mu­sic in­dus­try is to be de­vel­oped in South Africa. Rad­i­cally pro­mot­ing lo­cal con­tent is one as­pect of de­vel­op­ing the lo­cal mu­sic econ­omy, but more can be done.

Dig­i­tal SABC

The SABC needs to drive the lo­cal mu­sic in­dus­try, and hence growth in the econ­omy, by pro­mot­ing lo­cal tal­ent.

What is key to this drive is the use of tech­nol­ogy. We are now liv­ing in the dig­i­tal age and SABC in the fu­ture needs to en­able dig­i­tal ac­cess to lo­cal mu­sic.

More and more peo­ple are now ac­cess­ing their mu­sic through dig­i­tal de­vices (cell­phones and tablets).

Ap­ple Mu­sic and An­droid mu­sic plat­forms are pop­u­lar for peo­ple to ac­cess mu­sic. The ques­tion is whether South African mu­sic is ac­ces­si­ble on th­ese dig­i­tal plat­forms and if not, what should the SABC do about grow­ing dig­i­tal ac­cess?

At present mu­si­cians are not re­ally making money from dig­i­tal ac­cess to mu­sic, but this will probably take off at some point as they find bet­ter ways to be com­mer­cial.

While some mu­si­cians are us­ing dig­i­tal ac­cess plat­forms to mar­ket their mu­sic, some have gone to an ex­tent of giv­ing it away for free.

But if dig­i­tal ac­cess is not the sil­ver bul­let, what will be the saviour of lo­cal mu­sic?

Live SABC

But if mu­si­cians use dig­i­tal plat­forms to show­case their live per­for­mances to con­nect with fans and make money, what does this mean for SABC?

It sim­ply means that SABC can no longer re­main the same broad­caster that it was in the 70s and 80s if it aims to re­main the cham­pion of cul­ture. SABC needs to cre­ate more plat­forms for mu­si­cians to per­form live. This can go a long way in boost­ing the lo­cal mu­sic in­dus­try

Be­yond SABC

Ex­pe­ri­ence tells us that the SABC will not be­come a dig­i­tal first or­gan­i­sa­tion any time soon. It probably will not see any rea­son to in­no­vate be­yond its current in­fra­struc­ture.

What op­tions are there for lo­cal mu­sic en­trepreneurs? Tech­nol­ogy is probably the only hope.

A col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween lo­cal tech­nol­o­gists and lo­cal mu­si­cians could cre­ate the fu­ture mu­sic in­dus­try for South Africa.

Such a col­lab­o­ra­tion could lead to a sit­u­a­tion where an on­line mu­sic plat­form is cre­ated to ac­cess lo­cal mu­sic and the rest could follow.

In the ab­sence of the SABC rad­i­cally ad­vo­cat­ing for lo­cal mu­sic promotion per­haps tech­nol­ogy is the an­swer.

This is just one of the projects we would like to tackle at the In­de­pen­dent Lab through doc­u­men­ta­tion (via In­fonomist plat­form) of such mu­si­cians and in the fu­ture cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment for mu­si­cians to show­case their tal­ent.

We call upon sup­port­ers of South African lo­cal mu­sic to tell us about mu­si­cians that can ben­e­fit from such an in­ter­ven­tion and we will do our best to cham­pion their cause.

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