Will SABC’s 90% quotas bolster the music industry or will it enrich a few?

SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng Picture: Elizabeth Sejake/City Presss

2016 will go down in history as the year that changed the music industry scene. This has prompted Hailing for King Hlaudi Motsoeneng as the game changer in the sector. The SABC COO has done what most people have been thinking about, contemplating but too scared to do for years. The man really deserves to be gifted with more than just a traditional trophy wife. He’s charting a new path for the public broadcaster, introducing 90% local music in all 18 radio station. Another moment in history worth mention is a time when SABC’s then CEO Dali Mpofu fed us anything and everything that’s cheap American content, plunging the organisation to financial ruin.

The move has been highly welcomed by all those that matter. Especially industry heavyweights like Mzwake Mbuli, Don Laka and Ladysmith Black Mambazo just to name a few. This will bolster the economy, create job opportunities in the industry and nurture artist growth- assuming that fairness will be applied in music selection and rotation of songs.

Artists outside the Gauteng province are mostly disadvantaged by location more than anything in the entertainment industry. This has led to the influx of talent to Johannesburg, seeking better opportunities than easily available in their home towns and provinces. This created many challenges for many, ending up in streets of Jozi without anything but a dream. Leading to some being abused, harassed and mostly doing drugs, while most end-up settling for contracts that are not benefiting them.

One artist, who’s a genius that has been over-looked in the music industry, is Ferdinand “Ferdy Ferd” Buffel. Lead singer and founder of Delivery Boys. A cover band promoting the art of vocal ensemble from Motown, soul, Jazz fused with new school pop styles.  You’ll be forgiven if you’ve never heard of them, but start looking up that name.

Born in Paarl, the songwriter, musician, producer Ferdy Ferd, as he is famously known within the industry, a name he got from a friend. Saying he is so good, you have to say his name twice. He is a Channel O award winner for the Most Gifted RnB, SAMA nominee and Nigerian Sound City Music Award nominee. He has collaborated with most of the country’s big name artists such as Mandoza, Proverb, Jamali, Denim, L-tido, Da les, Blaze entertainment, Psyfo and Urban Reign just to name a few and not leaving out his long-time friend and home-boy Clint Brink.

In addition to that Ferd has shared the stage as a supporting act for most of international multi-platinum cats like Rick Ross, Lil’ Wayne, Tyga, Trey Songs, Shane Ward, Drake including Ronan Keating.

The man’s hustle is worth many praises, his efforts and energy can be felt in his own work with songs like “these girls and Handle you”,  a singles that got a nod on SABC’s Expresso morning show, but have never seen the day of light on any of the SABC radio stations, but easily available online. Releasing singles is a test of the markets acceptance of the song, but when radio stations shun music, refuse to put it on rotation, that dampens an artist’s efforts to release a full album. That has nothing to do with quality. His work with Urban Reign that got him the nod for an award, is still gathering dust at SABC’s music library.

The urban pop group had a wide-ranging repertoire, with music ranging from Hip Hop, R & B with elements of Jazz and Rock. In the group he teamed-up with Kenton “Kent Smoke” Windvogel, Lira’s lead guitarist and Jeremy “J-namic” Cohen. The music had a highly local-flavour matching any international standard.  The band split directly after winning the Channel O, with each chasing their own grind, this is what Ferdy said to IOL regarding that “Everyone now has their own personal goals that conflict with being in a group. The fact that we won awards and our outfit worked disappears when egos set in. So basically we let Urban Reign go earlier in the year,” he revealed. “So that leaves me pushing the Ferdy Ferd brand and I am not doing so bad.”

With the introduction of the quotas, people have been worried more about the Sunday music genre of Metro FM. Yet Ferdy’s music has not been shown the kind of appreciation it deserves. Bringing home the fallacy of confirmation bias that geniuses aren’t recognized at home. Countries like Dubai, Spain, Morocco, Israel, and the Seychelles are just some places that have shown love to his angelic voice. His acting background skills are evident on stage, he is outrageous, entertaining and hyper energetic.

The Paarl Valley son has a full catalogue of credits under his name from Denim’s full circle, Jamali 3rd Base, L-Tido’s all or nothing and with American Awgust Rush Bunny Jump.

Ferdy is just one of many artists that have immigrated to the city of Maboneng for fame and fortune. Unlike most, his determination, tenacity, strong will and talent have kept him grounded under extreme circumstances of being away from home.

SABC is dominated by a few companies based in Gauteng. Jazz maestro Don Laka who has been the most vocal critic of the organisation’s music selection is the founder of one biggest independent record labels Kalawa Jazzmee. They have defined South Africa’s music scene with their A&R ability to find new and unknown artists. The company for years has been at the forefront with hits and discovering new talents. Only a few artists in the country can claim not to have had a touch or influence of Kalawa.

The company now headed by Oscar “I believe” Mdlongwa a Metro fm DJ, stands to benefit more from the quotas as they are represented in most genres. Here ill mention just a few DJ’s that work for the public broadcaster and have become household names, DJ naves and Sphe, Lulo Café, Unathi Msengane, DJ Fresh, Vinny Da vince, Dj Mlu, Glen Lewis and some are Music compilers at these stations.  Not to leave out that Native Rhythms’ owner Sipho Sithole once was a Group executive in the organisation.

This raises moral and ethical question about those that have built their own companies and continuing to do so; do they act objectively in the interest of the public in the choice of music they play on radio? The answer is always the same as if reading from a political party press release.

“We don’t choose the music we play” a music committee is involved in the selection of all music. It’s has been widely reported that Tbo Touch has defied music compilers by playing his own music choice”.

Even if compilers choose the music, does it make sense to play 8 songs from Big “O’s” company in his own program? On SABC’s Live Tira as a guest video DJ, surprised most by playing his artist music.

To wrap, these are issues we need to debate as a nation; the quotas are good in the macro industry. Local artist will gain the respect afforded to their international counterparts. Yet the details of the 90% show more holes in it than a sponge. Gauteng is the financial hub of Africa, with all media amenities in a 10 km radius; it’s understandable they dominate our space. But SABC is not a Gauteng Broadcasting Corporation; that’s what Motsoeneng needs to remember, he need to service the entire country.

The next step can be setting regional quotas, tasking all radio station to promote local music in their respective regions so artists can earn street credentials and get gigs. This will help gain fans and support at home without leaving their home ground advantage. This would eliminate a number of challenges for upcoming musicians. Leaving your home shouldn’t be a fundamental crux of your career but a choice changing of environment.




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