Previously (still is the case with some artists), artists concentrated on being famous while the recording companies took care of the business side of the music in the process brutally exploiting them. That was the norm. Few took matters into their own hands after their contracts with those companies expired. In South Africa, artists in the past lived the glamorous life we see on music videos but never bothered on reading the finer details of contracts. Unfortunately, most of them died poor while the office man lived comfortably.
What is the use of releasing music when you only do get the fraction of the profits? I am in no way saying upcoming artists should not sign deals with the big giants, but they seriously should start thinking of creative ways of owning their own music rather than just focusing on being famous and relevant. A lot has changed since then, with few artists capitalising creatively and building partnerships that are worthwhile and beneficial. Let's see who is winning:
Zonke Dikana. She recently told Destiny magazine about the joint venture between Leely Music and Sony. The DVD which she recorded last year was the first project they collaborated on. Big up sister!
Lira documented her frustration with 999 Music in her book and how she took charge of her own career in the process empowering others. To learn more get the book at your nearest bookstore.
Not so long ago Judith Sephuma also announced a venture with a big music recording company. Follow her on twitter to learn more about her music enterprise, Lalomba and related stories.
Cassper Nyovevest. When he said to a journalist that he was actually independent I thought he was joking. This guy did indeed own 2014. Tsholofelo did well (continues to do so) and his PR game is/was on point.
Zakes Bantwini. It’s not clear whether his albums are released via his company or licensed to Sony (as I send him an email). But what we know is that his company did give us Lvovo before he moved to Tira’s label.
Talking about Tira, he’s also one of the best music businessmen in SA.
Sfiso N’cwane. Good business acumen and most probably the most booked gospel artist.
He does not own all his albums according to what he told Destiny Man. But Proverb’s company does own his last album. What is also interesting is that he also co-owns a company that produces IdolsSA.
Arthur also is another artist who has brains. He may have missed a gold mine that is Lira but 999 music is a platinum mine that he runs with pride.
The “famous” nonsense should just end. It is not easy to make it in any industry in South Africa, but knowing the ins and outs of your interest helps greatly. We should start taking ourselves seriously.