Radio stations must promote local artists during the Covid-19 pandemic
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The landscape has changed irrevocably and SA radio needs to decrease the amount of imported music it plays – that royalty income leaves our shores and is not productive for the local economy.
By profiling and keeping arts front-and-centre, when the epidemic ends the arts stands a chance to be heard as we all clamour for the rand and an audience.
May we table some points?
1) If eight or 10 songs are being played each hour, surely you can push up the SA continent to four or five songs in that hour?
2) Profile artists, at a set time each day, say from 20H00 – 21H00 each day.
3) Artists are at home at the moment and can easily be featured, but don’t only do artists; give actors, playwrights, poets, painters a platform as well.
4) This is a time to introduce new artists to your audiences as well that each radio playlist – don’t only play the tried and tested.
5) Ask the producers and presenters of shows to compile their own SA music playlists and share the artists that they enjoy.
Each playlist could be 20-30 songs strong and share this on all their social media platforms as well as make their own playlists on steaming platforms to share as well like Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer
6) The same principal could apply to the radio station as per point 5 and the station brands their playlist.
Use a hashtag for example #Sharesouthafricanmusic or #playingmoresouthafricanmusic
will be able to track the increase in spins by radio. Empirical data can be presented to stations, post the lock down.
8) SA radio could also ask a SA artist to send them a list/ selection of their favourite music of which half must be South African, so for 30 minutes it could be for example…. RJ Benjamin’s choice of music… It would lead to discovery of lesser-known music as well –
9) Have artists participate in being guests by way of special birthday calls and wishes so that the SA audience become more familiar with our music artists, thereby increasing support and acceptance of local material –
(musician, producer, songwriter)
10) If all SA stations increased their peak time local content by 20% that would be a huge increase in local royalty revenues. Stations should only play 100% SA music from midnight to 6am.
More critically, this wouldn’t impact listenership and would increase revenues by a further 25%.
The local content should be current artists or artists that are still actively working as professionals –
11) Each SA radio station should create a Spotify playlist and allow the public to participate in adding their favourite South African songs to each playlist.
Not only will this encourage greater audience interaction with the station (something that all stations want) but also it will increase the audience’s connection to the stations and boost streaming figures of SA artists.
12) Create telephonic segments with artists that are more than simply profiling them.
For example, DJs phone up SA artists and chat to them about the creative process, or what they’ve been doing to stay motivated, or challenge them to make a song in 24 hours and then air it the next day.
Create the context where we can actually see and experience the talent and warmth that SA artists have, rather than just a simple profile. Help them to grow their audiences and connect with fans –
is already doing innovative programming on shows by featuring music artists who have lost work and by playing a song of theirs to end the interviews on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at 14:50 daily.
We are all consuming the arts at the moment, be it film, television, music etc., so why not open the ears of your audiences to even more SA music? It will only help going forward for key role players in the sector.
Covid-19 is taking lives and compromising each and every one of us. SA radio has an opportunity and a moral obligation to support and help grow its suppliers.
Without music, new and old, SA radio is unnecessarily compromising and facilitating the suffocation of the local entertainment economy.
SA radio has the opportunity to be the catalyst for positive change through solidarity and promotion of all that makes South Africa great.
Please act in order for us all to prevail, post pandemic, wealthier in knowledge, confidence and pride.
* Martin Myers is co-founder of Music Exchange.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.