Eddie Hatitye, Director of Music in Africa
Johannesburg, April 2020
Within Music In Africa, our objective is to support African music and its different actors, to encourage collaborations, exchanges and professionalism in order to develop a sustainable ecosystem. We are active both online and offline. On our portal musicinafrica.net, we provide a wide range of information and networking opportunities. Offline we develop several activities including support for travel (a particularly acute issue on the continent), workshops, conferences, comprehensive training and actions to defend the rights and income of musicians. We also organise the annual Acces conference, one of the main professional events on the continent. After having carried out Acces in Dakar, Nairobi, Accra, the event is planned this year in Dar Salam, Tanzania, from 26 to 28 November. Through these various online and offline activities, we are building a solid and sustainable network both culturally and economically in a collaborative and pan-African spirit. African music is now much more present on the world scene. In the last five years alone, the evolution has been phenomenal. Just look at the global success of young talents such as Burna Boys, Wizkid, Yemi Alade, Davido in Nigeria. In South Africa, Kenya, Morocco and Senegal, the scene is also buzzing. This explosion is rooted in the work of pioneers such as
Hugh Masekela, Fela Kuti and all the others. But the Internet and other changes at the turn of the millennium have enabled today’s stars to achieve global success in a much faster and more efficient way. More and more festivals and music markets are appearing, which is also very encouraging, as is the development of music distribution and streaming on the continent. Despite these many positive aspects, there are still many challenges ahead. The percentage of musicians who manage to make their way is extremely low compared to those who do not. Too many musicians are dying in precarious conditions or can devote too little time to their art. The reason for this is very simple: for this sector to be profitable, artists must be able to earn money and rely on structures. However, it is clear from the outset that the musician’s primary source of income, royalties, are simply non-existent. Most African countries don’t pay any royalties at all. That’s a fundamental point. More generally speaking, music needs to be taken more seriously by our governments.
We need more concert halls, more support for mobility for artists, whether at the municipal, regional, national or continental level. There is also a great need for training so that musicians know how to seek funding, how to use different platforms, how to present themselves better, how to become more professional. Some artists have opportunities, but are not ready and cannot develop from there something economically viable. And this is what needs to be improved.
Still A-live! During this unprecedented period of confinement, the Show-me team has gone to meet musicians and cultural players to question them and take the pulse of what they’re thinking. What is or should be the status of the artist? What are possible remunerations? What evolution is possible after the crisis?