Cassper Nyovest. Picture: Instagram
CAPE TOWN - The SABC interim board has killed the controversial 90% local music policy, which aimed to promote local music on SABC platforms.

The move was welcomed by some in the industry and rejected by those who felt it was badly implemented.

Now that this policy is gone, the question that should be foremost on the minds of music loving South Africans is the following: who and how will we look after the unpolished music talent in South Africa?

The music industry is experiencing global challenges due to disruptive technology.

Musicians need further support to advance economically.

And although the 90% local music move was driven by questionable character/s in a questionable process, we should not throw the baby out with the bath water.

The objective of the local music promotion drive is pure and should receive serious attention if the music industry is to be developed in South Africa. Radically promoting local content is one aspect of developing the local music economy, but more can be done.

Digital SABC

The SABC needs to drive the local music industry, and hence growth in the economy, by promoting local talent.

What is key to this drive is the use of technology. We are now living in the digital age and SABC in the future needs to enable digital access to local music.

More and more people are now accessing their music through digital devices (cellphones and tablets).

Apple Music and Android music platforms are popular for people to access music. The question is whether South African music is accessible on these digital platforms and if not, what should the SABC do about growing digital access?

At present musicians are not really making money from digital access to music, but this will probably take off at some point as they find better ways to be commercial.

While some musicians are using digital access platforms to market their music, some have gone to an extent of giving it away for free.

But if digital access is not the silver bullet, what will be the saviour of local music?


But if musicians use digital platforms to showcase their live performances to connect with fans and make money, what does this mean for SABC?

It simply means that SABC can no longer remain the same broadcaster that it was in the 70s and 80s if it aims to remain the champion of culture. SABC needs to create more platforms for musicians to perform live. This can go a long way in boosting the local music industry

Beyond SABC

Experience tells us that the SABC will not become a digital first organisation any time soon. It probably will not see any reason to innovate beyond its current infrastructure.

What options are there for local music entrepreneurs? Technology is probably the only hope.

A collaboration between local technologists and local musicians could create the future music industry for South Africa.

Such a collaboration could lead to a situation where an online music platform is created to access local music and the rest could follow.

In the absence of the SABC radically advocating for local music promotion perhaps technology is the answer.

This is just one of the projects we would like to tackle at the Independent Lab through documentation (via Infonomist platform) of such musicians and in the future create an environment for musicians to showcase their talent.

We call upon supporters of South African local music to tell us about musicians that can benefit from such an intervention and we will do our best to champion their cause.

Wesley Diphoko is the head of Independent Media’s Digital Lab.