LiveMagSA and Word N Sound in partnership with the British Council Connect ZA, hosted the final Creative Session for 2013, as part of the 3rd Annual Word N Sound International Youth Poetry and Live Music Festival. Held at the Market Theatre Laboratory in Newtown, Jhb on 28 November, the session focused on “Digital Tools for the New Age Artist”. A panel of experts were on hand to share knowledge from a place of understanding.
Nicole Klassen has experience in animation, television and film, but found her passion as Head Of Content at Bozza Mobile, a mobile digital platform which allows artists to create and distribute their content in a way that best suits them. Nicole stressed the importance of knowing your market and what works best for it. She says “Think about your market, are they a download market or a streaming market?”
Toni Stuart, who was recently named one of Mail and Guardian’s 200 Inspiring Young South Africans, is a developer, performer and poet based in Cape Town but with influence all over the world. She has been published in numerous anthologies and collaborated with poets/artists around the world. Toni noticed that in South Africa, many artist blogs don’t say what they do. “It seems like the most obvious thing but many creatives leave this detail out, when it should be the very first thing that people see when they go on your blog/site,” she said. “You need to be clear about what you do in order to benefit from Search Engine Optimization (SEO),” Toni advised artists. “You should also include how your audience/fans or potential promoters/bookers can contact you. Your phone number, email address, twitter handle, etc should all be on your site/blog.”
Sylvia Harrison is the Music and Performing Arts Programme Coordinator for the UK’s Roundhouse. Sylvia manages the Roundhouse Poetry Collective which supports gifted poets aged 18-25 from across London. Sylvia highlighted two very important issues that young creatives often find challenging. “Finding your own unique voice and using it online can be quite daunting with so many other different and louder voices. You can feel like your voice isn’t important, especially when there is no sense of community between artists online,” Sylvia said. Sylvia noticed that many artists feel quite separated from one another and that can negatively affect creativity. “It’s all about knowing who you are as an artist and celebrating that, while, at the same time, learning and growing your individual voice through collaborating with other artists.”
Qhakaza Mthembu is a multi-talented and multi-tasking journalist, multimedia producer, writer, events organiser, arts enthusiast, education activist and a true reflection of the new energy propelling South African youth. Besides being a founding member of WordNSound, she is also a Digital Content Creator at Don’t Look Down. Qhakaza credits the internet for helping develop herself as an influential member of the media industry. She speaks of the importance of separating your personal and professional persona online, as it can affect how people percieve your work.
1. Be clear about what it is that you do. But at the same time don’t feel pressure to categorise/box your creativity.
2. Plug into different digital channels, from audio- Soundcloud, video- Youtube, text- WordPress, etc. because “Digital revenues work in volume.”- Nicole Klassen. The more, the merrier.
3. “Content is king.” – Qhakaza. The more (great) content you have, the richer your site will be. So prioritise uploading new content as much as possible. If you find this extremely difficult because you are constantly busy with other things, there are ways to schedule in your work online.
4. It’s not enough to have a blog- WordPress, Tumblr, Twitter, Soundcloud, Youtube, Myspace account if you don’t use it. There’s nothing more frustrating for a fan and viewer to take time, energy and data to search for you, only to find out that the last time you updated your site was 2 years ago.
5. Stop looking in and look outside of yourself and engage with the world around you, because “when you are generous, generosity finds you as well.” – Toni Stuart.
6. Always keep your audience in mind. Think about what works for them and make your content or the way you distribute it relevant and specific to their needs.
7. Engage with your audience in the creative/writing process because that in itself is content. So, if you tend to struggle with producing quick and easy content, this can definitely help.
8. Always keep in mind what your intention is and how you want to be perceived. It’s very easy to blur the lines between your personal online presence and your professional one. And, depending on what type of person you are, be it the over-personal tweep, who will tweet about their recent break-up or the party animal who’s always pictured passed out drunk at some party, your personal online presence could very possibly be to the detriment of your professional one.
9. Since the plagiarism of intellectual property is such a problem in the creative field, it’s important to protect your work. Make sure you read the terms and conditions of sites that you use to make sure that your work is protected. Also consider using a watermark on your images.
Seeing as though it is a poetry festival after all, it was only fitting that there would be some poetry fit in between the panel discussions.
UK based Slam Champion, Harry Baker, who wore a humorous yellow t-shirt that read “MR. HARRY”, recited an inspiring poem that spoke of how “scaffolding is beautiful, it’s a sign of development.” I thought the poem quite apt as it spoke of development, which is what the Creative Hustles Session is all about – developing talent and creativity.
Then Zimbabwean based poet Tinashe Tafirenyika took to the stage with a poem titled “Bad Break-ups”, which she insisted was not based on personal experiences, wink wink. The poem was honest and relatable. We’ve all felt the frustration that comes with a bad break-up and she encapsulated that feeling very well.
Another Zimbabwean poet and protester named Bhekumusa Moyo took to the stage with a poem titled “Poverty”, and you can check out the thought provoking poem here:
Next year LiveMagSA will continue to host regular #CreativeHustles in partnership with the British Council Connect ZA. The sessions 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.
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