PIETERMARITZBURG artists, deejays, producers and song writers filled the Winston Churchill Theatre last Wednesday at the first South African Music Conference in the city.Previously the conference was held in Johannesburg and Durban.The conference was organised by Fano Gumede in conjunction with Deejays Unite (DJU), an organisation formed by some of country’s most loved house deejays, DJ Oskido, DJ Fresh, DJ Christos, DJ Vinny DaVinci, and Greg Maloka. The conference is geared towards educating artists about production, brand building, music royalties and the copyright business. Christos and DaVinci, who have made significant strides in the industry, chaired the conference and advised artists to “think big”. “Start making music for the world, look up to the likes of Black Coffee, who recently scooped a BET award. Money is not a hindrance, if you really want to do it push yourself and make it happen. Be original, find your niche and when you become successful plough back into your community,” said Christos.The discussion also focused on music development for airplay and lyrical content with DaVinci advising that quality is always better than quantity. “No radio station will play a song that sucks. Take time with your craft, don’t be in a hurry to get airplay. We struggled for years to get our music on radio - keep working hard and persevere.”Christos said the industry was short of sound coming from Pietermaritzburg. “There is nothing coming out of Pietermaritzburg in terms of music, the industry only knows Durban music, but there is a lot of talent in this city as well. Pietermaritzburg has a distinct sound, take it a step further, push and there will be a lot coming from this town.”The copyright session was presented by attorney Kaiser Khoza, who advised that it was important for artists to know and understand their rights. “You are in the copyright business - understand your rights. If you don’t have the knowledge you will be ripped off. Do not take for granted that you will be able to read contracts from music labels on your own, because you will sign your lives away. Be careful of legal jargon, ask lawyers to help you before binding yourself to any contract.”Khoza emphasised the importance of, as an artist, having a management team. “Do not just get a friend or cousin to manage you. Get a management team that understands the performance industry, the fans industry and how you can grow as a brand. Your management should master negotiations and deal-making,” he said.Artists were also warned not to accept free gigs. “Artists who play for free are killing the industry. Whatever level you are on, you need to be rewarded when you perform. Start with a small amount and as you build your name raise the fee. This is your job therefore you need to get paid,” said DaVinci.Gumede said the conference was a success, “We have another event lined up in the city that will further enhance our talent. We are saying Pietermaritzburg will be the hub of good music in our province of KwaZulu-Natal.”The DJU team made a commitment to make the conference an annual engagement. The conference was sponsored by Umgungundlovu District Municipality, 033 Lifestyle, Ilawu Hotel, Nduru Services and Khayelihle Music.