MOSHITO’S just over ten years of existence begs for a debate about how impact-full the conference might have been.
It’s timely to zoom in on the music conference and exhibition before its 2014 run from September the 4th to the 6th at the shiny Sandton Convention Centre. Sizable chunks of resources have been poured into the conference over the years. The latest buzz is that Moshito has clinched a three-year (at a speculated R3 million a year) funding agreement –as opposed to the yearly renewals of the past- with the National Department of Arts and Culture.
Previously the event has claimed (through its former chairperson, Andre Le Roux) victories on a number of fronts. In an interview featured on issue 8 of MusikMag Afrika’s print edition, Le Roux counted the Association of Independent Record Companies of South Africa, The Music Managers Forum of South Africa and the Music Export Council as bodies that exist thanks to Moshito.
“We (Moshito) are the biggest and most consistent music trade platform on the African continent. Moshito has created access to attending international markets in France, Germany, Norway, etc,” said Le Roux at the time.” Naturally a person at the helm of an institution will speak glowingly about its achievements. The type of contribution made by the formations mentioned by Le Roux along with the issue around who’s been going to the “international markets” and a sector broad impact of such travels are topics for another day.
In the meantime, several of those not impressed with Moshito’s track record have been using their creative license to adjust the conference’s name. MO (re) SHIT (o), as in more shit, is how the discontent describes the event. Some have simply called the conference SHIT, a tag that one supposes allows freedom to decide if the event’s “load of kak” is insignificant, minor, medium, big or the biggest of all.
Of course there should be justified reasons that would have earned the conference a stink. The emergence of events similar to Moshito such as the South African Music Conference, Breathe Sunshine African Music Conference and Music Exchange have to do with among other reasons the failures (on various levels) of Moshito. In Cape Town, which is home to Breathe Sunshine and Music Exchange; Moshito is apparently dismissed as a Gauteng Boys Club owing to its failure to meaningfully reach out and or move to be staged in other parts of the country.
Another common criticism levelled against the event has to do with several organisational blunders and its talk-talk format with little follow through or action on pertinent issues. In one particular year yours truly was invited to be a speaker and there were nearly ten, if not over, of us on the panel while the time allocated for the discussion was very minimal to make a sensible input.
Granted; Moshito’s main focus in presenting the music sector with opportunities to talk, share information, to workshop and create a platform to make contacts with key role players in the industry are important. However it’s also sensible that the conference is expected to go an extra mile (than circling the same block as it has) and play a significant role in a country where unemployment is way too high and artists struggle more than they should.
The fact is; Moshito has largely been a space where certain music business insiders and administrators talk almost exclusively among each other, moan about declining profits as a result of piracy while sharing information on what they believe will keep them profitable. Thus the event may have worked for some but it has not done so well in reaching the furthest corners of the entire music business, bringing great glory to the sector and attract –in a major way- important business role players.
Most big companies involved in music, one way or another, have never been seen exhibiting or showing enthusiasm in being associated with Moshito, that’s a big failure on the part of the event. The audience and the big name artists (that excite the audience and sponsors) are two key stakeholders whose engagement or lack of involvement (in more exciting ways) by the conference has been too glaring to ignore.
While several administrators in the music sector and acts trying to make a breakthrough have made an effort to attend; big name artists seem to have mostly avoided the conference. The irony though is that countless top artists, often tagged celebrities, regularly donate their star and popularity power to horse racing events and others that have little to do with their craft and the creative sector as a whole. These artists’ attendance contributes in grabbing the attention, interest while boosting that particular event’s social status and image. Sadly this has not been duplicated, without loosing focus, to further boost the image and enhance the fortunes of Moshito along with those of the domestic music sector.
So, does Moshito stink (perhaps as a result of the shit smelled by the discontented) so high to the heavens to an extend that most local big name music performers have opted to stay as far away as possible from the “stench” over the years?
It’s a shame and should be embarrassing that members of the Music Managers Forum have not fully appreciated the significance of persuading and ensuring their popular clients lend their famous faces –in significant numbers- to Moshito. Pompous, big headed or difficult as some of them maybe; popular, seasoned and accomplished artists are key stakeholders who contribute in keeping the music business running, whose names can bring in more attention, sponsorship and profits to the industry as a whole. It is one’s strong view that another big part of Moshito has to be about fairly using the fame of artists to advance the sector.
Meanwhile, the initial announcement of what to expect at this year’s conference suggests there’s going to be the same old same old menu and approach on the table.
At the time of writing the only and first released information about the forthcoming events had to do with a list of panelists including some heavyweight administrators in the music business. The names include Jiggs Thorne who is the Director of MTN Bushfire, David Alexander -the founder, owner and Managing Director of Sheer Publishing (Pty) Ltd; published author, lecturer and advocate of the High Court- Nick Matzukis; Rashid Lombard- CEO at the esp Afrika and Cape Town jazz festival director and Samro’s executive general manager Andre Le Roux.
It would be interesting to see if the recently installed chairperson of Moshito, Sipho Sithole, will bring to the conference his agility, the urge, chic and boldness he brought to Gallo Records when he was an executive at the company. The active (if not hyper) Sithole may just be what the conference needs at this point as it enters its second decade stretch.
Moshito has – in comparison with other trade exhibitions such as the Tourism Indaba and Markex- within its reach the shiniest and consumer friendly jewels (personalities with their superstar power and music) with which it could engage and excite markets.
The many “smart” and latest marketing tricks hatched or shared at Moshito will continue to have no major and positive impact on the decline of music sales as long as the consumer is not satisfied, timely and widely informed and or engaged with the product they are expected to consume.