JOHANNESBURG – The creative industry is one of the most lucrative and influential economic sectors in the world.
Truth be told, it's actually a “god” economy in its own right (I use lower case for “god” to denote idolism, as opposed to a Supreme Being).
Think of all the creative "gods" that have been a significant part of our lives over the years – favourite actors, actresses and directors, bands, singers, musicians, models, fashion designers, authors, poets and artists.
Last week Friday, Minister of Telecoms and Postal Services Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and her deputy, Pinky Kekana, hosted more than 200 creatives in a round table engagement at the 22 on Sloane start-up campus in Bryanston. They were joined by Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu. The gathering focused on how best the creative industry can leverage the advent of the 4IR.
The true value of this sector is that most of their work borrows from their personal experiences along their life's journey, which resonates with all of us. South Africa's very own multiple award-winning Trevor Noah is a prime example of this, with a broad audience watching his Daily Show. He, as a brand, is influencing the minds of his millions of daily viewers.
There are 4IR challenges facing the creative industry.
Years ago, we bought music on CDs and rented videos on VHS from our corner store blockbuster. Now everything’s changed. One can watch movies and series on the device of your choice (TV, tablet, laptop or mobile) from various streaming providers, such as Netflix, StreamShark, YouTube, Facebook and Periscope (and that's really just naming a few). Also, gone are the days of lucrative album deals for musos because now you can just download or listen to your music from Spotify, ITunes, Deezer, Mixclouds, Grooveshark and yes, loads of others for a mere pittance.
For authors, it is believed that AI will write the first best seller and produce the best movie, it will write the script complete with stage instructions. AI will also help with music composition and sound tracks. Gone are those days you sat in studios cracking your brains. The machines are coming, and we have to be ready for it. AI technology can now even make descriptions of what you instruct it to do. Just check out the website: www.thispersondoesnotexist.com.
In the past, to get yourself seen or heard you'd need to travel and audition live. Now you just shoot content with a smartphone and upload it in seconds on to one of the various social sharing digital platforms to be viewed across the world with a click, while you chill out and cash in. Amid the 4IR, "change" is the only constant. The revenue generated in the industry will continue to decrease, because there are so many players vying for their piece of the pie.
Another difficulty the industry faces is access to capital and for the various financial institutions, venture capitalists and investors to take them seriously. That's because there is no way to actually value the industry, or rather the value of the industry is based on perceptions of your ability to convince your content consumer to like your product and keep supporting you. It is estimated that the creative industry is worth more than $600 billion (R8.38 trillion).
There is also a widely held view that modern economies that will undergo a Fourth Industrial Revolution successfully will not be those that worship machines, but those that support "human creativity”. The machines are coming, but building and nurturing the human element and creativity will only make it even better.
Kizito Okechukwu is the co-chairperson of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa and 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest start-up campus.