They say “charity begins at home”, I say “take care of home first”. It’s not a play on emotions and definitely not a desperate call for patriotism either. Its action invoked, debate sparking and quality is the final product.
On a random day, how often do you see or hear a Beyonce or Miley Cyrus song on your TV and radio? Sometimes you would swear it’s a Beyonce Appreciation Day the way you hear her songs on different radio stations when you channel-hop. Now compare that to how often you hear a Lira song; how often you hear a Khuli Chana song – both outstanding artists with accolades longer than an arm’s length and they are both South African. I’m not comparing Beyonce to Lira, I value my life and I don’t want to get death threats from the Beyhive, but here’s my point… are South African platforms putting up their own artists?
Play Local or Die was radical and didn’t start a movement. Proudly South African seems to have more people attaining the tick with the SA flag instead of pushing for more local content. It’s almost as if supporting local movements that showcase insightful content are nothing more than mere momentary trends. Patriotism is just a facade we put up to get people off our backs when we choose to support international brands – whether it be clothing or music – before our own homegrown talent.
It baffles me when platforms that are supposed to be newsworthy seem far removed from their established backgrounds, yes we are dealing with global stars but what about our own stars? You can’t be chanting (and stanning and defending) for the neighbours child while your child is doing the same. It’s a simple case of why do we not appreciate our own the same way we appreciate international artists. We understand that there are levels to everything but surely; we should be finding levels that work for our own local talent as well.
Yes a lot of artists mimic international artists but that’s because of the love the internationals receive; so do we then blame them for trying to mould them into an idealistic ‘something’ that will get our attention? How many knew Lira performed for Obama? How many knew Ladysmith Black Mambazo have been in the industry for 50 years with 4 Grammy awards? How many knew that Khuli Chana has been nominated for Best International Act in the Black Canadians Awards? That said, I bet you there are people who know what Blue Ivy had for breakfast this morning.
Some will argue that our international counterparts produce music on a constant trail. I’m risking my life here, but lets take Beyonce as an example. Over her 10-year career as a solo artist she has released platinum-selling albums on average like every two years. Now with Lira, her last album was in 2012, in 2011 she released two offerings and prior to that she had an album in 2009, 2008 and 2006 respectively. That’s a better average than Beyonce to be honest. No, I’m not saying Lira is Beyonce’s proportion of stardom but rather, if we can keep up with the pace that the likes of Bey and Rihanna are setting, then what is the reason SA music compilers are not playlisting more local music when artists are producing so much more content? What then are the requirements for a musician to have their work play-listed?
Joyous Celebration is on volume 14, an album a year of their existence but South African music channels would rather play a Mary Mary song from 2000.
The industry is tilting towards who has what the world has rather than what can we offer the world. If the song was played 187 times by Funkmaster Flex on Hot 97, local radio stations will play it because it’s trending worldwide. You may ask yourself: how is it that Proverb feat. Manifest is such a beautiful song but Trinidad James is playlisted?
As listeners the least we need is clarity because there’s a lot of South African music that will not publicity because of their poor quality. Then there’s the situation of popular South African musicians not getting airplay because apparently we would rather hear another redundant Mike Will Made It production for the tenth time between two shows. And it’s most frustrating to hear the same song played on almost every show throughout the day. We have too much beautiful music being made by South Africans for us to not put ourselves first. We give other countries too much power of what’s hot in our local industry and it’s unfair. Frankly, we are too diverse of a nation to be riding on the trends that other countries are making popular. We all need to invest in our talent, WE, this means that we all need to work together to open the doors for our local talent. We undervalue the content that our musicians are producing – yes not all content is amazing but for the most part there is some amazing talent out there, on our very own South African shores. Don’t ignore it simply because it’s not on an international level of ‘relevancy’. More often than not introducing your listeners to new music is something they will thank you for.
As listeners, we would love to understand the process of getting a song playlisted; the quota of local VS international on your station; and who gets the final say of which new talent makes it into the industry and which doesn’t. This industry cannot be shared between a select few only, people do get tired of hearing music from the same artists all the time, it’s imperative that new talent – whether it be signed or not – is also given a platform that allows them to grow and develop their selected craft.
You are a South African station; crossing borders to other countries, what are you delivering that is purely South African other than you mimicking Flex with bombs and horns? Are you putting on the artists that reside in the country that pays your bills?
***This opinion may not be popular, but someone has to say it. Use it; don’t use it. Your choice.
Written By: Siphiwe Zwane ( @SDotJR_) & Lerato Mannya (@MzLee_)