Zakes has big plans for future
“I WANT to study with the best in the world,” said musician and DJ extraordinaire Zakes Bantwini about his acceptance for studies at the prestigious Harvard Business School.
The hitmaker turned 40 this year, and spoke about the new developments in his career and personal life.
“It’s humbling to join the 40s team,” he said chuckling. “They say life begins at 40 and when I received my acceptance email, I really believed the saying even more. When I look back to where I come from and where I am today, I have zero regrets but a lot of gratitude. The only wish I have is that my mother was still alive to see the man I have become.
“The opportunity of studying abroad at one of the best institutions in the world allows me a foot into a world that offers different perspectives and approaches in the music-business world. This will prepare me to take on any challenge and possible opportunities that may lie ahead. These are really exciting times for me.”
Zakes will head to Boston in December to study towards a qualification in business entertainment, media and sports. Even before setting off, he has plans to use the qualification to innovate and expand his music business.
He said after completing the course he planned to launch a record label, All Electronic Music, that he believed would shake up South Africa’s music business model of signing artists and tying them to long contracts. Instead, his label will licence an artist’s music and release it globally. This approach means that the focus will be mainly on the music and to beam it on to platforms that will expose his artists to much larger audiences.
"How it (All Electronic Music) will work is that when we like your music, we licence it, work it and then help to take it globally. I have partnered with German distributor Paradise Distribution GmBH, that will support the expansion of all releases into different markets,” he said.
“Both these ventures mean a lot to me as I am entering another door in my life, and that is why I need to equip myself with knowledge to ensure success with the new business."
Zakes, who is well-known for hits such as Bum Bum, Wasting my Time and Clap Your Hands, is not neglecting his own career, and will be releasing a new single next month featuring Holland-based artist Leroy Styles. Titled Yekokwam, it will add to his body of work that is becoming increasingly global in its reach.
The release is signed to Paradise Sound System, a label focused on building bridges for African artists to reach the rest of the world.
Zakes said achieving most of his dreams by the age of 40 was exciting, and he attributed his longevity in the industry to his quest to get an education. His qualifications include a postgraduate qualification in social entrepreneurship from the Gordon Institute of Business Science and a diploma in jazz and popular music from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).
“When I studied music at UKZN, there was so much I learnt and all that grounded me to realise that my career is all I have, with no plan B.... I took care of my career and treated it delicately because it was my be-all and end-all,” he said. His quest for knowledge has opened doors for him to live his dreams. Apart from being an artist, he has had varying roles, including being the "executive head of A&R" at Sony Music SA and a music producer. “The impact that I continuously work towards is producing global superstars that still live in Africa, that don’t need to leave Africa for a commercial global status, career or tour, but are able to carry the same impact all across the globe,” he said.