90% has become the new buzzword for artists in South Africa over the last six weeks via the SABC .I have watched the keyboard warriors on social media platforms giving it a go and being “experts” in the process, which I found rather amusing. When the 90% arrived we had a plethora of opinions, but not too many constructive ways to engage with it.
I was at a talk two weeks ago and the lack of basic understanding by artists left me dumbstruck .The mentality of “you need to help me because I am special” seems to pervade the industry at present. It is sad. Let’s put some home truths on the tables: political rhetoric and jumping on the political soap box is not going to give you a hit record that fans will engage with .It’s not called the Music Business for nothing.
Airplay is vital, but it is only one part of the business .You first need a good song; one that is relevant to the market you are appealing to and then radio will consider it.
For example, a Good Hope FM is not going to play a piece of jazz music. They cater to a specific audience and age demographic and artists need to consider this when submitting songs. Radio is in the business to make money from advertisers by selling space on the airwaves, bottom line.
How do listeners engage with the artist? How do fans go about purchasing a song or album with their hard earned cash? iTunes accounts for only a small percentage of the market. Physical stores are becoming less and less, so artists need to develop a live show and tour venues.
The collecting agencies – the SAMRO’S and Capassos of the word – also need to become more vigilante to make sure radio fills in the cue sheets and the collections are made and disbursements take places to the artists.
Could record companies not drop the price point on SA albums as an incentive to move stock and could iTunes not drop their prices as well, to assist with the airplay and 90% euphoria?
A great, viable touring market does not exist in SA. Overseas some countries have a campus circuit that hosts band on a nightly basis. This has dried up in South Africa.
We also need the print and electronic media to support this incentive by giving space to celebrate the good and the great.
Advertising agencies need to stop looking to overseas artists for their new campaigns.We have enough writers and songs to choose from.
Tony Cedras from Cape Town, who toured with Paul Simon for many years, is an artist who comes to mind .The talent is not lacking, that is for sure. It’s the mindset of people who still go around thinking SA music is inferior.
South African musicians and bands also have a responsibility to lose their sense of entitlement, and lose it immediately.
There is no doubt in my mind that we have the talent, but we lack the emotional intelligence, common sense, business savvy and maturity. Earn the right to be respected, don’t demand it.
90% is a start and let’s massage the points and work as a cohesive industry to make it better.
Gig of the week
Prime Circle Stripped Tour
The SAMA-award-winning rock band Prime Circle are presenting their latest tour, in which they strip their music down to the root of the songs and their stories.
The national tour includes three of the five usual band members (Ross Learmonth, Dale Schnettler and Neil Breytenbach).
Venue: Hillcrest Quarry, Tygerberg Valley Rd, Durbanville, Cape Town
Date: Sunday, July 17
Time: 2pm to 8pm. Doors open at 11am.
Tel: 021 976 4959