It is time for the Eastern Cape to own the music industry, says AIRCO
The rapid rise of Eastern Cape songstress Zahara, whose meteoric ascent to success was second perhaps only to Justin Bieber; the nostalgic sounds of Ringo Madlingozi, soulful ballads from Thandiswa Mazwa; and recent SATMA winners, The Soil, who’ve all become essential items in the music lover’s collection all contributed significantly to the popularity of music born and nurtured in the Eastern Cape. But why are they all living in Johannesburg? Was the question posed by Mandla Maseko, Marketing and Communications Manager of The Association of Independent Record Companies (AIRCO), in a workshop that was jointly organised by the Eastern Cape Audio Visual Centre (ECAVC) and AIRCO. The objectives of the workshop were: to disseminate vital information to independent artists in the music industry, to increase platforms available for artists to exploit growth opportunities in the Eastern Cape and to decentralising the music industry from Gauteng. The Workshop was focused of three central themes: the Music Industry Value Chain, SABC royalties for music videos and the role of AIRCO in the artist’s career and development. Maseko acknowledged that one of the major contributors to the independent artist’s failure was the lack of guidance offered, the scantily available information about the industry provided to them, and the amount of time it takes for artists to accrue any profits from their work. The Association of Independent Record Companies (AIRCO) is a non profit National Music Industry Association which serves and represents the interests and development of South African Independent Record Companies across South Africa. AIRCO was formally established in 2006 and among its objectives was to ensure South African music representation internationally, while spearheading the economic transformation of the industry in the country. “There is a growing misconception among artists that if radio stations play your music, they are doing you a favour”, said Maseko, while urging artists to take ownership of their artistic property to ensure they reap the rewards of their production; from the song’s conception, right through to its sale. One of the objectives of the workshop was to inform artists of how money, which would be available to them in real time, would be made through the industry’s value chain. In 2011, AIRCO signed a distribution agreement with SABC, whose primary purpose was, according to Chairperson of AIRCO, Mr. Dodo Monamodi; “to enable AIRCO to avail its members’ and non-members’ music products for broadcast on SABC platforms and in return, the SABC would pay AIRCO an appropriate amount for the benefit of members and non-members and distribution to those whose products are used by the SABC”. The agreement would create a mutually beneficial relationship between aspiring artists and the SABC, where the artists would be given the platform to advance their careers, getting adequate compensation, while supplying the broadcast station with content for their productions. “It was the purpose of the workshop to disseminate vital information of this nature, whose absence had prevented the economic progression of the artists and the industry as a whole”, commented Maseko. The Eastern Cape Audio Visual Centre (ECAVC), which is housed in the Miriam Makeba Centre of Performing Arts, is a joint project of the University of Fort Hare, the Provincial Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and culture and Buffalo City Municipality. The Centre produces and markets the Eastern Cape’s rich artistic resources on a national and international scale. “The purpose of the Centre is to engage all the stakeholders in the Eastern Cape music industry to enable them to understand the development of music in the industry. This forms part of ECAVC’s academic mandate to inform artists of their stake in the music industry”, said Gary Ndlovu, assistant audio engineer at ECAVC. Every 2 weeks, the Miriam Makeba Centre of Performing Arts will hold workshops to empower artists by providing them with critical information to develop their industry fluency and skills while enabling them to empower even more people with the same knowledge.