Power of music

2015-03-08 15:00

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As part of its assessment of the country’s competitive advantage, Brand SA tracks a variety of indices and reputation-indicator studies and commissioned research to assess and monitor the nation’s brand and reputational standings.

One of the tools used is the Nation Brands Index (NBI).

It consists of six dimensions: exports, governance, immigration/ investment, culture, people and tourism.

The first three are considered part of the hard performance measures and the latter three are considered soft criteria.

In positioning the nation’s brand as a reliable investment, tourist and skills destination, the hard and soft criteria become equally important.

Last year, Brand SA undertook a fieldwork study in peer African countries Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.

The study explored the softer elements of South Africa’s rich identity – the culture and human dimensions of the NBI.

The rationale is that South Africa’s success in peer African countries is highly dependent on its reputation, which is shaped by more than foreign policy or trade interactions.

The research sought to develop insight into South Africa’s footprint in these three markets and understand the perceptions that formed their reality and, in turn, deepen relations with peer African countries.

For South Africa to build and protect its reputation, it needs to identify exactly what the world appreciates most about us. This is part of growing South Africa’s competitive strength.

Although culture and heritage are regarded as soft issues, they make a decisive contribution to the country’s competitive appeal.

Brand SA’s research shows that in all three markets there is keen interest in South Africa’s music and entertainment industry. Music was found to be a strong cultural exchange between the four countries.

Kenyans identify with South African music and believe it is a sense of aestheticism of what African music should sound like in a Western world.

Music serves as a unifier of African culture and crosses all boundaries of race, ethnicity groupings and language barriers. This is evident from the successful collaborations with local and Nigerian musicians.

Hip-hop, kwaito and House are the dominant genres consumed by listeners. It is interesting that most exposure to South African music is through DStv, particularly Channel O and the service’s radio and music bouquet.

Music is therefore a powerful source of nation-building and national identity and greatly contributes to South Africa’s competitive edge.

South African artists can play an integral role in the transfer of local knowledge, culture and reality through festivals and concerts.

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