“They came from all major parts of Gauteng including Soweto, Evaton, Sharpeville, Boipatong, Bophelong, Sebokeng, Ga-Rankuwa, Mabopane, Soshanguve, Atteridgeville, Randfontein, Katlehong, Thokoza, Natalspruit, Vosloorus, and Leondale to the two-day youth music business workshop that was funded by the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz” 

Geleza Kleva and Learn Youth Music Business Workshop was held at Apollo Hotel, Randburg last Thursday and Friday where the youth and in some cases the not so young were transported from pick up spots in their towns and cities at the expense of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz and addressed by knowledgeable experts in the fields of recording, film making, finance, public relations, marketing, event management and sound engineering.

A high percentage of South African youth has interest in pursuing careers in arts and entertainment industry including singing, acting, as well as starting their own businesses and ensuring their sustainability.  Often the youth does not receive sufficient training in turning such careers into real professions that will generate the revenue they require to survive as individuals. Some of the youth do obtain qualifications from reputable tertiary institutions but often struggle to secure employment they wish to give them the financial independence after completing their studies.

CEO of Recording Industry of South Africa (RISA) Advocate Nhlanhla Sibisi was the first person to address the delegates at the workshop.  A seasoned legal practitioner who has worked in some of the best legal firms, corporates and SOE’s and currently doing a Master’s Degree in Media and Entertainment Law. Sibisi explained aspects covered by the Entertainment Law.  He told the workshop that Entertainment Law overlaps with Intellectual Property Law which has clauses that include trademarks, copyright, and the right of publicity.

Sibisi managed to simplify these pieces of the entertainment legislation to the predominantly young audience.  He advised them to seek the appropriate legal advice before signing record deals so that they know what is due to all individuals involved in recording an album and the financial rewards that come with that.  He also mentioned that some of the big record companies are run by top lawyers.  Sibisi told the audience that music industry is highly competitive and it’s vital for those that are part of it to understand how it works.

Mantwa Chinoamadi welcoming the guests. Picture by Zamindlela Zama

Bass player, music producer, arranger and conductor Victor Masondo, and Executive Director at Mirror Effect Media Nyikiwe Mathye made presentations on scoring for films and local content, and opening up the industry.  Both men addressed this very critical aspect of the arts industry often in a humorous way and the creativity required in shooting films and videos that will appeal to the intended audience. Masondo who is passionate about wildlife emphasized the importance of using the appropriate sound to match the visuals when producing a film or music video.  Mathye also shared his experiences in TV production.

At the breakaway session for sound, stage and lightning, Sizwe Mokoena from Ugqozi Entertainment addressed the delegates about the long hours that form part of the film making industry.  Mokoena who has been in the industry for more than 20 years spoke about how labour intensive the industry can be at times and often the criticism that artists endure for the work they do.  He urged the youth wishing to pursue careers in acting not to be discouraged by those who have little knowledge of how it works and focus on attaining their goals.

The breakaway session for marketing and communications was addressed by Judith Mugeni who is the Managing Partner at Ganizani Consulting Services.  Judith started by telling the youth not to be modest about their qualifications and work experiences, a point that was mentioned by Victor Masondo earlier in the day.  Ms Mugeni shared her experiences about the marketing campaigns she has been involved with throughout her career and how they have shaped her career.

Judith emphasized the importance of brands ranging from products that are popular throughout the globe and also famous musicians, actors, TV and radio presenters who are regarded as brands as a result of their popularity.  Brands need to define who they are so that they can reach their intended target audience.  Judith also mentioned the importance of reputation, credibility and accessibility in creating a brand.  She also gave examples of brands that have been created recently and are more popular than brands that have been around for decades and centuries.

Delegates listening attentively. Picture by Zamindlela Zama

Jazz singer, voice over artist, radio host and vocal coach Spha Mdlalose spoke about multiple streams of income for musicians.  It is not a secret that when musicians don’t get booked for performances that translates into loss of income which often leads to depression.  Spha recently joined online jazz station Jazzuary FM as one of its young and knowledgeable presenters.  She is unashamedly passionate about radio and public speaking.

Spha urged the youth to read the contracts from record companies before putting their signatures. While still placing a lot of emphasis on singing and performing, they should also consider other options like voice overs, taking slots on radio and TV.  Other musicians are playing roles in TV dramas and soap operas as a means of making an extra income.  The delegates listened attentively to these words of advice from someone who is already in the industry and talking from experience.

General Manager for Legal Services at Southern African Rights Music Organization (SAMRO) Chola Makgamathe was one of the key presenters at the Geleva Kleva and Learn Workshop.  Her topic was entitled “The link between copyright and royaltystreams: An overview”.  Chola is an admitted attorney of the High Court of South Africa and practiced law at one of the leading law firms in South Africa. Some of the delegates could not hold their excitement when they heard that she was the CEO of Downtown Music Hub, a non-profit company established by the Department of Arts and Culture to deal with some of the challenges in this country’s music sector.

Chola explained what the Copyright Act entails.  She went further to state that the period of copyright protection is the duration of the life of the author plus 50 years after their passing.  Copyright in the composition covers the melody, lyrics, structure owned by the songwriter.  Chola also reminded the delegates that copyright in recorded work is owned by the songwriter or record company or whoever paid for the recording of the work.

Chola Makgamathe addressing delegates. Picture by Zamindlela Zama

Ms Makgamathe also listed all types of royalties that form part of the copyright in the recording of an album.  These are performance royalties, mechanical royalties, synch royalties, recording artist royalties, needle time, video performance live (VPL) and producer’s royalty. Other streams for musicians include performance fees, merchandising, sponsorships and appearances.

Mphile Shabalala who is Corporate Social Investment (CSI) Manager for Multichoice Corporate Affairs also addressed the workshop on scoring for films on a presentation entitled “Lights! Camera! Action!”. What was evident in Mphile’s was the passion she has for the film and entertainment industry. She has more than 10 years – experience in TV production including short form.  She told the delegates about what goes behind the scenes in filming before the content is properly edited and shown to millions of viewers.

Celebrity agent and entertainment industry publicist Simphiwe Majola also addressed a delighted audience at the workshop.  He is the CEO at Simphiwe Majola & Associates PR Comms Agency.  Majola spoke about the importance of reputation in the media and how social media fits it, citing examples of some celebrities whose reputation has been tarnished as a result of some posts they make on social media platforms.

He also spoke about media handling techniques in an event of a crisis and the high tolerance levels that requires.  Majola told delegates to believe in their work and become “Internet fixers”.  Celebrity agents often manage social media accounts of their clients.  He also explained the difference between a booking agent, PR agency and artist manager which are often confused.  Majola said reputation is the measure of how much the community trusts you.

Nomfundo Xaluva. Picture obtained from Khanya PR

The last speaker to address the workshop was lecturer, performer and vice chairman of SAMRO Foundation Board of Directors Nomfundo Xaluva.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies from University of Cape Town (UCT) where she graduated Cum Laude.  She is currently studying towards an Executive MBA with the Henley Business School.  Nomfundo has won 2 Metro FM Awards as an artist.

This amazing vocalist and pianist spoke about financial challenges musicians face when they want to raise money for recording albums, how live gigs are becoming less as a result of the current economic climate.  Despite these challenges, Ms Xaluva told the delegates that they must adopt an attitude that “My Craft is My Business”.  She said artists are also entrepreneurs who need to understand how to negotiate for festival bookings, private functions, contracts and basic financial management.

She considers herself extremely fortunate that her MBA is paid for by a sponsor. Her “very understanding parents” purchased her first piano, and not many musicians have parents like these.   “Other people are not as fortunate”, she acknowledged.  For artists to remain in the industry for many years to come, they must understand that fame does not translate into fortune, CD’s are slowly disappearing and people use other platforms to purchase music and music retail stores sell more accessories than music itself.

Ms Xaluva also said people in developed countries are always on YouTube and other social media platforms because they get data for free.  “Music is a career and must be regarded as such.  When the artist loose out, the art becomes the biggest looser”, she said.  She reiterated a point that has been made by previous speakers that artists must thoroughly read their contracts before putting pen into paper, a mistake some have committed.