- Collaborations and Content Creation
- Creating content and engaging with your fans using social media platforms
- Align yourself with a trusted circle
- Encouraging young ones into the DNA of their forefathers
- The music is bigger than all of us
The leading pan-African arts organisation, Music in Africa Foundation (MIAF) in partnership with Reeperbahn Festival and Bassline Fest brought together delegates from over 50 countries to be part of their annual conference at Sci-Bono Discovery Centre and Constitutional Hill, Johannesburg. During the conference, panelists shared ideas, tips and gave artists important guidelines that will help them shape their careers and also bring about new collaborations. Here are key take-aways from Busiswa Gqulu, Abidoza, Vusi Mahlasela and Kgomotso Meso.
Collaborations and Content Creation
The poetic-song writer and singer, Busiswa Gqulu, encouraged artists to DM each other to form collaborations. She said that connecting with other artists helped her get more shows, exposure and most importantly came through for her during tough times. She told delegates that collaborations helped her when restrictions were too tight and it was impossible to get gigs in certain countries. But through collaborations, she managed to get more even out of the country. Busiswa collaborated with South African artists in the US and Ghana during lock down while on a tour.
Creating content and engaging with your fans using social media platforms
Busiswa also touched on the importance of creating more content/songs to share on Tik Tok, Instagram, and other social media platforms. She highlighted that creating more than you need is always important because such content always helps when you can’t move or work. “You can’t wait until you have to decide that ‘oh I want to have a song that becomes number one in Nigeria,’ and you go to Nigeria and make one song,” she pointed out.
She further emphasised the importance of finding different ways to engage with audiences/fans and stepping out of their comfort zone. She said going live on Instagram became pivotal for her and even though she wasn’t used to it she got in the zone of it. “Teach yourself things, even if you’re too shy to do it.” Creating Tik Tok videos had proven to bring in great results as we have seen Kanyisa Jaceni and other artists exposure just by creating content.
Encouraging Young Ones to tap into the DNA of their forefathers
After receiving his honorary award, The Voice spoke words of wisdom to young musicians. The legendary Vusi Mahlasela acknowledged how technology is helping shape young artists and the industry when it comes to recording sound. However, he wasn’t happy that artists don’t know a lot about these instruments and their roots.
The “When You Come Back,” hitmaker uses his poetic voice and guitar to address societal issues, injustices, and advocate for the voiceless. President Cyril Ramaphosa recognised Vusi Mahlasela’s cultural contributions with a national “Ubuntu and Culture” award. Former president Jacob Zuma awarded him with the National Order of Ikhamanga, to recognise him for “drawing attention to the injustices that isolated South Africa from the global community during the Apartheid years.” He explains that there is a spirit that drove and enabled him to do all these things.
“This is a very special gift that came spiritually to me. And there is a spirit that enables me to do that. I don’t know the name of that spirit but I am thanking it every day. So it is really something that you know… today we see young ones who can really source out lot of things because of technology; especially coming into music.
Where they can use technology sampling drums and all that and everything; without knowing the real call that you know that drums that they are using; and they kind of putting them into different frequency and all that. That… that drum it has been chopped and before that a ritual was performed to ask permission to chop the tree to make a drum. And then later on it becomes a drum and they sample it; without technology, we played music before without the help of microphones and whatever. It was that… What we call ‘unplugged everything.’ That is spiritual; it was spiritually come into place. That is why I say I am a musician with this gift that I have.
“And I think we need to guide carefully to the young ones who are really coming into this not just to see it for the sake of being famous and money.” The legend continued to elaborate that he uses his foundation, school and achievements to uplift young artists. Vusi Mahlasela “The aim of this is to encourage young ones to start tapping into the DNA of their forefathers,” he added.
The Music is bigger than all of us
In his emphasis to drive the point that no one should put boundaries or a label to what is amapiano and what is not amapiano, Amogelang Thorne Chabangu, said that people should let everyone come to the table with their elements. According to Abidoza, artists should be allowed space to be creative in a way that appeals to them; as long as fans can relate to what they bring to the table. “Like I always say, no one is bigger than someone else in amapiano. There are no gatekeepers; you know we can all be stars. The problem is people want to own the sound. You must let the sound do what it has to do. No one must say I came up with amapiano. No one has to say ‘Amapiano to the world.’ You have to put a poster like that for you to prove that. People are making EPs saying “DeepEP Piano.” You don’t have to do that. It’s in the sound you know. We have to come together. We have to have someone like iFani on the song. Someone like Msaki without them making you feel like they are making you a favour. It’s supposed to be complex. No one is supposed to come with that energy that they are a star.
You must just…look at Casper Nyovest he has one of the biggest songs, because of you know… he is down to earth. He has one of the biggest songs. He knows that this is music, and no one is bigger than anyone; the music is bigger than all of us.”
Align yourself with a trusted circle
Radio Presenter: Kgomotso Meso
Kaya FM radio presenter, Kgomotso Meso, advised artists to surround themselves with a circle that will look out for them, a circle of people they can trust and rely on. “This industry gives me giggles, I love it; I love it to death. There is always so much mind maps . But there is always like booby traps everywhere and that is why it is important; you said it earlier, to always align yourself with a trusted circle and a circle that are not your fans. There is nothing worse, and we have seen it, you know where a musician, everybody around them… I am gonna use a term that is loosely. The term ‘moreki.’
“So you are the guy that buys everybody everything. No one calls you to order. Nobody tells you when you are wrong, and that is the very beginning of your downfall,” she explained.