Live Mag

Creative Hustles : Are musicians standing in the way of their own greatness?

by: Morwesi Ndlovu - 22 July 2015

Creative Hustles, was organised by Livity Africa with the help of the British Council, planned to fill in some of the missing gaps by inviting industry people to a discussion on these issues.

The panel, facilitated by Lee Kasumba, consisted of Mulo Hlongwane former Yfm DJ; Johan Venter an electronic music producer; Allison Swank a content producer at Arcade Content; Akio Kawahito artist manager and DJ/promoter behind the Kool Out brand; Thris Tian from Boiler Room and of course, Boyza Dubasi from JMR radio.

The main topic was music curation. I used to think that music curation only existed in a specific form and shared via one medium. However, that is not the case. LiveMag contributor- Lethabo Bogatsu said it best, “In the same way that music doesn’t exist in a bubble on your iPod or on your radio, music affects and influences almost every facet of life especially that of young people.”

How then, do we distinguish ways of making music available and encourage sharing?  Well, there is a lot that goes into deciding what makes certain music popular in some countries but not in others. Sometimes artists just don’t have the internet access, influence and popularity to get themselves playlisted worldwide like say, Beyonce and Rihanna.

Yes, we have platforms where we can share music but they are the same platforms where you find overseas artists.  Without a doubt, some South African artists are known overseas. But, they’re mostly known as an “African act” and not as a brand or individual.

Creative Hustles_© Lwazi Mazibuko001

Akio, who travels the world for work, said that he believed there isn’t a set formula to making it overseas. Cultural organisations aren’t helping either. “Cultural organisations are selling fetish artists. You want to be an international act as your own name and not a South African artist.”

We then have platforms such as Soundcloud which are a great way for artists to get more exposure for their music. Mulo said: “Track source, another platform for artists to share their music with people overseas was available five-years ago. However, right now, music is not as accessible. It boils down to availability and accessibility of music on all networks/platforms.”

The discussion heated up as talks about the challenges that the Internet has brought to the domination of record companies in the music industry. How then do artists start unpacking the issues of compatibility between Traditional radio and online radio? Well, in an interview at the MAMA awards recently, Cassper Nyovest mentioned that your relationship with your fans is based on what they hear on radio – buying your album is a favour because your fans want to see you prosper.

Having your music played on radio is quite crucial in building your relationship with your audience. Johan was more concerned about having to depend entirely on traditional radio where as he is able to create music and load it up onto platforms such as Soundcloud. Within a week he would get over two thousand likes, he said. That’s important for his brand and he reckons it should be the same for other creatives.

Towards the end of the session an audience member, Neo Motloung, suggested that artists should create platforms such as mxit for their music where their market can consume it for as little as one cent. It’s such a great idea that Lee Kasumba thought maybe Neo should copyright his idea before it gets stolen.

Creative Hustles should not happen once but it is a platform we need to track the progress of artists and ensuring that we are not just discussing these matters but taking action.

Words by Morwesi Ndlovu

Photography by Lwazi Mazibuko