Radio boost for SA music

2010-07-24 00:00

SOUTH African musicians usually find the road to success hard going, and even those who are successful have to work hard consistently to be heard.

During the World Cup, a number of local musicians and artists protested the amount of airtime that international acts would receive in comparison to local talent, arguing that the event should be used as a showcase for African and South African music to the world.

The opening concert of the World Cup was a case in point, where controversy broke out over the fact that only Freshlyground, Hugh Masekela and the Parlotones were initially invited to perform alongside global hot tickets the Black Eyed Peas, Shakira, Alicia Keys and John Legend. The problem was addressed and more local bands were added to the line-up. Radio stations were also urged to showcase local talent, and as a result, a greater percentage of local music was put through to be aired.

After the glow of the World Cup, does it all return to normal now? Do radio stations revert to playing more international artists than South African music?

Radio 2000, which is broadcast nationally, seems to be mapping the way forward as the radio station that is giving the most airplay to local artists.

According to Cuthbert Mashigo, Radio 2000 executive producer, the station’s strategic plan is to achieve a 70/30 percentage split between local and international music by the end of this financial year. Mashigo says the ratio prior to 2010 Fifa World Cup was about 60-65% to 35%.

But can South African artists hold their own on a global stage?

In an interview with Weekend Witness, Mashigo said music in Mzansi has come a long way. “A significant number of South African musicians have grown remarkably well artistically over the years and do indeed stand their own against international acts.

“SABC radio stations did not experience problems in providing entertainment by play-listing only music by South African artists for the entire period of three months [during the World Cup] …”

5FM, the SABC’s youth-oriented station and one of the most coveted stations to be aired on for South African musicians, differs in its target market compared to Radio 2000. 5FM’s emphasis is on the latest music, movies and South African youth trends, and tuning in to any one of the weekday shows, it is evident that these trends are broadly influenced by overseas entertainment industries and record labels.

The station maintains that “its music styles are international and include a strong component of South African artists of world standard,” but it doesn’t boast a percentage of local musicians as high as Radio 2000.

The process of getting selected as an artist is a mixture of a committee’s opinion and the target market of the radio station, according to Mashigo.

For local musicians needing advice on how to get radio play, Mashigo says that there are several streams in SA within which artists could find their niche.

“As much as the radio stations broadcast various music genres, make it your responsibility to listen to them and identify the station that plays your kind of music and submit to it to appropriate radio stations.”


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