South African music is entering an exciting era of opportunity and progress as new markets open up for homegrown sounds. This was one of the key messages emerging from the 2013 Music Exchange Conference, which saw industry moguls and musicians congregating at the iconic Cape Town City Hall to talk about the serious business of music.
For three days, from 21 to 23 March 2013, the City Hall was abuzz with the sound of music – with a full programme of workshops and panel discussions on making it, marketing it, getting it heard on various platforms and ensuring that it moves with the times.
This independent music conference, now in its third year, attracted hundreds of experts and delegates from across the music spectrum – from composers and publishers to record company executives and media – to share knowledge and ideas, network, perform live showcases and identify opportunities to boost South African music locally, regionally and abroad.
Among the high-profile music creators spotted at the conference were Vicky Sampson, Mynie Grové, Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, RJ Benjamin, Chad Saaiman, Jimmy Nevis, Mark Haze, Dub Masta China and Arno Carstens, as well as industry heavyweights such as Universal Music A&R consultant Benjy Mudie, Cape Town Jazz festival founder Rashid Lombard and Rolling Stone SA editor-in-chief Miles Keylock.
The international speakers on the programme included acclaimed house music producer and remixer Charles Webster (UK), music promoter Doug Davenport (USA) and Africori CEO Yoel Kenan (France).
One of the conference’s undisputed highlights was the keynote address by Trevor Jones, moderated by Universal Records managing director Randall Abrahams. Now based in the UK, Jones was born in District Six and is considered one of the top five film score composers in the world, with several Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations as well two ASCAP Awards in the bag.
Jones has made an indelible mark on the global entertainment industry, scoring international blockbusters such as Notting Hill, The Last of the Mohicans, Mississippi Burning and The Mighty and working with the likes of U2, Sting, David Bowie, Sinead O’Connor, Britney Spears, Elvis Costello and Charlotte Church.
Jones became overcome with emotion after being given a standing ovation by delegates, who warmly welcomed him back home.
During his inspirational talk, he spoke about the importance of music education and his desire to give something back to South African music industry: “Key to South Africa’s success is hard work and building a positive perception of our country and us a nation,” he said.
Award-winning local singer, songwriter and guitarist Arno Carstens, who spoke at the conference about the song that made him famous, said it was an honour to be part of Music Exchange and it was encouraging and inspiring to see so many enthusiastic people attend and share their experiences and knowledge.
Joining Carstens on the stellar line-up of artists speaking about the song that made them famous, Vicky Sampson acknowledged songwriter Alan Lazar (formerly of Mango Groove, and now a successful composer based in Los Angeles), who wrote African Dream. “I am grateful that Alan gave me the song and did not pass me up for Mango Groove’s Claire Johnston,” Sampson quipped. She spent every minute of the conference absorbing and learning, as well as reconnecting with her mentor Benjy Mudie and her old friend RJ Benjamin.
Versatile singer, composer and teacher Benjamin, who has been invited to be a vocal coach for the upcoming season of Idols and will be composing SABC2’s new signature tune, continuously urged delegates to make use of social media platforms to reach new audiences. Benjamin stood out as one of the speakers to whom delegates were drawn and his presentations proved to be extremely popular.
After the weekend’s proceedings wrapped up, local music legend Hotstix tweeted: “What a conference; what great speakers and delegates – wow!”
Added a delighted Music Exchange founder and board member, Martin Myers: “We have been completely overwhelmed by the positive feedback we’ve received, and the animated conversations on social media platforms about the success of Music Exchange.
“Recording and performing artists, as well as composers and other industry players, have complimented the conference for being relevant, engaging and thought-provoking. There was a strong focus on the business side of music, which elevated this event above a mere talk shop: they left with useful, practical information that will undoubtedly be of immense value in their various professional ventures.”
Visit www.musicexchange.co.za to find out more about next year’s Music Exchange conference, or follow @musicexchange on Twitter.
Issued by JT Communication Solutions on Behalf of Music Exchange – www.musicexchange.co.za