The creative industry has changed drastically in the last five years or so. Music and films can be accessed at a single click. Live performances and music videos can be viewed from online platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo. Songs can be streamed from soundcloud and REVERBNATION. Music, films and series can be purchased from on iTunes and bandcamp. Who needs a bookshop when you can simply buy a book from amazon? Everything boils down to a simple link.
Adding onto the aforementioned digital distribution tools is the music-making process itself. Gone are those days when it took a massive budget and big studios to record music. With more accurate and easy-to-set-up recording apparatus being availed at relatively affordable rates, it has become easy and affordable to make music. That’s a double-edged sword – even people who aren’t supposed to be making music end up attempting to be musicians and flood the industry with mediocrity. The other edge is of course the fact that one does not have to wait to be recognised by major record companies to make a living off their art.
With these advances in technology and everyone doing the same thing in the digital space, how do you, as a creative, get people to click on your link and stream or download your song or watch your video or read your pieces? That was the main focus of the last #CreativeHustles session – how creatives can deploy these tools to enhance their careers and stimulate interaction especially between SA and UK creatives.
Taking place at the the District Six Homecoming Centre and hosted in partnership with the British Council Connect ZA as part of the 3rd Annual Word N Sound International Youth Poetry and Live Music Festival, the event boasted panelists who seem to be making good use of the digital tools we’ve been bequeathed. Those included Word N Sound co-founder and poet, Afurakan; Bozza Mobile Head Of Content, Nicole Klassen; poetry writer, performer and developer, Toni Stuart; and Performing Arts Programme Coordinator for the UK’s Roundhouse, Sylvia Harrison. The talk was hosted by Cape Town renowned poet, Mfundo Ntobongwana otherwise known as G.O. and he did a great job. There were also some poetry performances by UK poets Harry Baker, Catherine Labrian and poets who registered for the open mic.
Up first was poetry writer, performer and developer, Toni who gave tips on how creatives can engage with their audiences on social networks. For instance, a poet can post quotes from their upcoming book and performing artists can post pictures of themselves in studio or performing live. She gave tips on how artists should conduct themselves on social media. She emphasised on the aspect of professionalism and image – the appearance of your blog/website can either make or break you.
Bozza Mobile Head Of Content, Nicole Klassen outlined what Bozza Mobile is about – which is taking advantage of the fact that we are always carrying our mobile phones with us. How? By distributing music straight to your phone via theri mobi website. Nothing new, right? My thoughts exactly. So what is really different about Bozza? Well, according to her, it’s the fact that Bozza brings video, audio and visual aspects to one site. She highlighted the successes they’ve had as well as the challenges.
After Nicole was Word N Sound founder, Afurakan whose presentation I enjoyed the most because of its light-heartedness and simplicity. He gave a timeline of Word N Sound’s activities from inception until now highlighting their struggles and triumphs. What stood out was when he mentioned that word N Sound has only been promoted digitally – no physical posters have ever been printed to promote the event. He also encouraged creatives to get used to the habit of digging into their own pockets if they are really serious about seeing their dreams come into fruition.
Performing Arts Programme Coordinator for the UK’s Roundhouse, Sylvia Harrison gave a talk on how the internet has made it easier for creatives in different locations to build partnerships with each other. She added that creatives should look at other means of getting paid (live shows mostly) for their art as opposed to CD and DVD sales which have dropped exponentially in recent years.
Performances came from UK-based poet, Catherine Labiran who was also launching her anthology and 2010 London Slam Champion, 2011 UK Slam Champion, 2011 European Slam Champion and 2012 World Slam Champion, Harry Baker.
Attendance of the event was not bad at all but I still feel Cape Town has more budding creatives than were present. Yes, not all creatives can attend at the same time. But still, as a creative myself who is acquainted to others of my kind, I saw only a few familiar faces. I can’t say I was surprised though. With my experience of attending such talks and workshops, I’ve come to the conclusion that many creatives overlook the importance of such gatherings. Otherwise, well organised and professionally run event it was.
1. Visual appearance of blogs/websites is very important.
2. Use social media to network and make new connection.
3. Don’t give out too much of your work for free online
4. Dig into your own pockets to fund your projects
5. Be careful of what you post or share on sites such as Facebook and Twitter
6. Separate your personal profile from your artist page
Don’t forget to complete our 3 min digital trends survey for the chance to win R200 airtime or data!
Next year we will continue to host regular #CreativeHustles in partnership with the British Council Connect ZA. They are a platform for young people to engage and build relationships with established industry professionals and arts practitioners, as well as receive creative and career advice.