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You get two kinds of talks about the (South) African music industry. 1) You get people that love to only tell you about the problems, the struggles, the shortage of venues and gig opportunities and just the general lack of income for artists in Africa. 2) And then you get the Breathe Sunshine African Music Conference. A platform created for like-minded individuals to talk about issues, yes, but more importantly to engage about solutions in order to tackle these issues head-on, with an empowered mind and spirit.

This two-day conference (brought to us by Black Mango and Seed Experiences) took place as part of the Cape Town Music Week this year. The Mother City is alive with musical vibrancy and it is about time that the actual game changers in the industry put their heads together and take charge of their own creative destinies.

The Protea Fire & Ice Hotel in in Cape Town CBD was alive with action, as industry heavy weights, artists (new and established), music managers, publicists, record label representatives, and the odd interested man on the street, soaked up us much knowledge as possible, whilst having loads of fun. This year the conference saw 60+ participants from across Africa and even other parts of the world – the biggest event of its kind yet. The conference consisted of panel discussions, couch interview sessions, technical workshop sessions, pool side lunch time showcases and evening networking party sessions. We were lucky enough to attend three of the exciting sessions that the conference had to offer:

Brand Music Strategies: Panel Discussion

The panel consisted of moderator, Mandla Maseko (Moshito), Mark Horne (Publicist Machine), Craig Stack (My City By Night), Nomndeni Mdakhi (Edits Communications), Kazim Rashid (Warp Records), Mpumi Phillips (Sheer Music) and Avukile Mabombo (Brandhouse). Being experts in their various music fields, they shed a clear light on the topic of becoming a brand as an artist, as well as approaching other brands for partnership deals. The interesting revelation that was shared is that artists first and foremost need to develop their own brand identity and brand value, and then carefully consider which brands fit in with this identity and value, instead of simply approaching any brands from the get go. As Mandla clearly stated: brands are not charity organisations! The panel discussed ways in which artists can go about to develop their own brand, as well as strategies to approach brands and secure partnership deals that will benefit both parties involved.

Understanding The New Revenue Models For The Digital Music Industry: Panel Discussion

Neil Naidoo (Africori), Roach Roth (Merlin and African Dope Records), Leigh Morgan (Believe Digital) and Andy Dasoul (Dasoul Productions) were the panelists and Dave Mac (IDM Magazine) was the moderator. Although a somewhat depressing discussion (as artists are really faced by a predicament when trying to make money through streaming services online), it was empowering to hear valuable information from these industry experts. Services such as YouTube, Spotify, Simfy and Kleek were put under the magnifying glass. Another matter that was discussed is how artists should mould their revenue models to suite their target audience.

On The Couch With AKA & Jack Parow

Conference co-director, Trenton Birch, interviewed rap extraordinaires, AKA and Jack Parow. A hearty talk about their childhood days and early influences commenced, followed by a chat about their identities as artists, their performing language of choice, song writing styles, self-discipline, the live performance aspect and the global influencers they have become. The two shared many similar stories and experiences, although both stood their ground as authentic artists with definite ideas and dreams.

If you are in any way involved in the music industry, you simply can’t afford to miss the Breathe Sunshine African Music Conference in 2016.

Photos by : Stanley June

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