Platform and performance in sync

2010-11-07 12:53

The battlefield is strewn with bodies. Those who survive pick their way through the debris, the uneven ground and broken dreams, delicately stepping into open spaces, fingers crossed and mind focused, praying that they will make it to the other side.

There are land-mines and pitfalls everywhere. It is not easy.

There is a battle going on for the soul and, to a certain extent, the future of music and the artist.

The record companies suffer diminishing earnings because we aren’t buying CDs as much and piracy continues to reach further and further into our lives as it ­becomes easier and easier.

We exchange music via hard drives, flash discs and cellphones.

Artists, on the other hand, compete with the multiple platforms and spaces available to us. For those who actually own their music; reduced sales and limited airplay mean royalties also get cut.

And they all suffer from the lack of live performance platforms .?.?. or do they? Look at the artists around you. Where they have ­traditionally made their money – and continue to – has been through live performance. Performing three nights a week can make for a tidy sum every month.

Over the last decade, there has been the explosion of the deejay and the return to live music – in terms of artists playing with full bands instead of just backing tracks.

The two seem to be in opposition to each other because the deejay is a more mobile option for promoters while bands can be expensive to book. Some argue that this is killing live music because promoters just go for the cheaper option.

Artists sit back, point fingers and blame sponsors and promoters and lack of appreciation and so on for the fact that deejays seem to get booked more, particularly in South Africa. There is more to it than that. I have often lamented the lack of business understanding from artists and how this puts them in situations where they are either taken advantage of or they lash out at the “system”.

The “system”, and those within it, are the very people who support the artists and give them a foundation to do what they do.

They need to understand who it is they are speaking to and work to get themselves into spaces where they interact with their “audience”. Like any business venture, where you need to understand and identify your target market, they need to understand us and then perform in places where we are.

I recently watched Lira perform at the Market Theatre. You wouldn’t expect to see such a performance in that space and yet, the venue was packed to the max, and she put on the kind of show that we, her audience, appreciate.

That, for me, is understanding who your audience is and what they are comfortable with.

In life, we need to understand our position – and play it well.

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