SA’s new stars of the airwaves

Independent artists are dominating the home-grown music playlists despite radio not meeting its local quotas, reports Charl Blignaut.

Gospel, traditional sounds and kwaito are fading, while House music, Afro-pop and hip-hop are on the rise.

That’s according to the Entertainment Monitoring Africa (EMA) SA Top 100 Playlist Chart for 2013.

The annual chart – formerly known as Mediaguide – is regarded as the industry standard when it comes to tracking what songs are being played on radio.

According to the EMA, Mafikizolo’s Khona was the most played local track on radio in South Africa last year – heard more than 5 500 times – but the Afro-pop legends only came in fifth overall behind a string of international artists.

The song most heard on our airwaves last year was Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines (featuring Pharrell).

It had more than 7 200 spins.

It was followed by Daft Punk’s Get Lucky (also featuring Pharrell), Justin Timberlake’s Mirrors and Rihanna’s Diamonds.

Rihanna was in sixth place, while Chris Brown came in seventh.

DJ Kent stormed the airwaves last year. His Spin My World Around had the eighth most plays, with Danny?K’s Brown Eyes and Mi Casa’s Jika rounding out the top 10.

DJ Kent also landed 19th place with Top of the World. Mafikizolo’s Happiness was the 23rd most played track.

The biggest newcomer on the chart is Heavy K, landing in 18th place with Wena and narrowly missing a top 100 spot with Beautiful War.

In 2012 only two local artists received top 10 rotation – Toya DeLazy and Mi Casa.

While it offers great news for independent local house and hip-hop artists – DJ Kent, DJ Ganyani, Khuli Chana, AKA, Professor and Zakes Bantwini all making the top 100 for the first time – the list also delivers bad news for our musicians.

Crunching the numbers and using the 100 tracks as a fairly considerable sample, South African radio last year only managed to play 28% of local music.

Radio’s local content quota, legislated by Icasa, is supposed to be 40% for public stations and 25% for commercial stations.

“A shift needs to happen,” says Linda Maseko, manager of the independent label Mentalwave, which produces Liquideep, the duo who made the chart again for Welcome Aboard (65th).

Maseko is a fierce lobbyist for local content quotas.

“We are still doing a full analysis with a view to naming the radio stations that are not complying,” he told City Press.

“People are still caught up idolising the Western way of things. An old Lionel Ritchie track will get more play than a hot new local track.”

Maseko bemoans the fact that when playlisters, deejays and producers at radio stations ignore local tracks and push American hits, they are sending vast sums of money out of the country every year.

“We need that money at home to improve the music industry. The same thing is happening with commercials.

“In other countries, you have to get special permission to use a foreign track on a commercial – and prove that you can’t find the right local one.”

DJ Ganyani had a stand-out year (with Be There at 28th and Xigubu at 32nd), as did electronica outfit Goldfish and Jimmy Nevis.

Zonke also landed in the top 100 again, as did DeLazy.

But the chart’s stand-out news in local music is that the most powerful hit factory in the country is not a major international record company, but a pioneering independent.

Kalawa Jazmee secured over 7% of all play on the top 100 and 30% of all local music play.

According to what local music is being played on radio, independents like Kalawa, Soul Candi, 88 Productions and Ganyani Entertainment are crushing the majors at their own game.

They have taken control of their own rights and corporatised their businesses.

“The South African digital-music landscape has changed,” says the EMA’s Andrew Irvine.

“Ring-back tones continue to dominate, but now we’re seeing online retailers like iTunes also making an impact.

“It’s geared more to downloading a track, not an album, and that works for dance music producers.

In the digital world, there is plenty of scope to do it all yourself if you become business minded.”

While our radio is flooded with American songs, there is only one African artist outside South Africa who made the top 100 – Nigerian singer Nneka’s Shining Star came in at 37th.

“But that’s also changing,” says Irvine. “It was only late in 2013 that stars like P-Square and D’Banj signed deals with local majors. They’ve started appearing on the weekly charts already.”

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