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Fresh From Mo…Shit…O!

A call came through at 2.45pm a day before the media launch of the 2014 Moshito Music Conference and exhibition.

“Nsizwa! Come to the Crown Plaza Hotel in Rosebank at 1pm tomorrow. Bring along your shield and you are going to swallow your words,” warned chairperson of the conference, Sipho Sithole.

Delivered in a typical Sipho Sithole fashion that one has come to know over the years – the message was persuasive and instructive yet somehow managing to avoiding antagonism. Late as as the invite was, I still went to the conference to hear, for my self, the news that would result in one choked by the whole 1229 words of an article we earlier published regarding Moshito.

Off we went to Rosebank, after temporarily setting aside other important staff that pays the bills. Present at the conference were Dorothy Masuka, Slikour, Khethi Ntshangase and a number of creative industry heavyweights such as Joy of Jazz producer Peter Tladi, Andre Le Roux from Samro and Monica Newton who is deputy director general of the national department of arts and culture (DAC.)

A hint that it may be too early to keep one’s throat clear for all those 1229 words to have a smooth passage came earlier that expected. Booming from the speakers was an uninspiring and dry advert (with no background music) promoting a music conference nogal! Add to that the tail end of which echoed radio promos for music festivals in the ’80 – you know the Radio Bantu kind with a male and female voice engaging in a little conversation about what is being sold and then doing the hard sell -at the end- in a singsong (in unison) kind of delivery.

‘Come on cut the Moshito guys some slack,’ a though crossed my mind.

So we shall look at the good, at least for now. Moshito’s teaming up with Arts Alive makes perfect sense and is a good move. Another praise is for making an effort to communicate (they can improve on engaging much in advance though). The introduction of the short film and documentary segment to the conference; the music demos presentation, and the cultural exchange element that will see some Congolese musicians performing at one of the conference’s shows sounds exciting. Just to add, at the moment Nigeria is the hottest country in pop music as far as Africa is concerned and it would have been nice to have a special segment putting the spotlight on the country. Also deserving some praise singing is that Moshito has started throwing around statistics and figures before their event. For example one of their statements say spending on live music will increase at an estimated 6.3% in the next five years to R1,3 billion by 2017. A 57% total spent in the music market.

A nice one too is that the Recording Industry of South Africa and the South African Roadies Association are back at Mashito after they distanced themselves from the event in 2006. The reasons for their departure were concerns about issues of financial accountability; the proper taking of minutes at meetings, general management and that Moshito was at the time not registered as an entity.

Tabled at the Rosebank press launch was a three-year business plan, another positive development. “We want to position Moshito as Africa’s premier and most trusted event for the music industry and be strategically aligned with similar markets around the world. We also want to be the continent’s most desired music industry event where business meets music and music creates opportunities,” Sithole announced.

Then came Newton: “We (DAC) want something (Moshito) that serves the local music market. We expect Moshito to build markets and audiences.”

The profile of attendees, as put forward in one of Moshito’s communication, include record company executives, performing artists, media, media strategists, marketers, creative experts, industry bodies, brand managers, music industry managers, Government representatives. Such a perfect reflection of Moshito’s motto, ne: ‘Where Music Meets Business and Music Creates Opportunities’.

The above paragraph clearly shows that the concept of a “music market” is not represented in its entirety at the conference. The event’s three-year business plan proposition is mostly mute on how to address a key element of the music sector – the consumers who are the lifeblood of the music business. Simply put Moshito lacks a comprehensive audience feedback element. It is like a company where executives sit in a boardroom and decide what the consumer wants without effectively and extensively engaging the consumers to hear what they are looking for and comment about the quality of the service offered thus far and on what improvements should be made to effectively address their desires, needs, wants and what excites them.

A marketing executive from a major UK brewery that I had a chat with offered some words of wisdom; “Moshito people need to realise that the music business is not mostly or entirely about them but the consumer because without the consumer there is no music business.” The above words echo sentiments previously made by MusikMag Afrika that 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.

Given the Moshito showcases have a role to play and they are ok but are not innovative or offering different presentation to concerts or live performances staged every week. In fact the public probably sees the showcases as just another show – nothing special to it. Public participation, in a broader sense, may be the key to attracting corporate sponsorship something that was addressed, in not so much detail at the conference.

On the subject of attracting big name brands (tagged as celebrities) in the music, creative and entertainment sector Moshito earns a minor plus. Personalities mentioned, by Sithole, as coming to the conference, as facilitators include, Kuli Roberts, Sizwe Dlomo and Penny Lebyane.

With the three-year funding of R14,5 millions from the DAC, R500 000 (only this year) from the Gauteng Sports Arts Culture and Recreation there should be no excuses pertaining to financial resources where delivery is lacking and or unsatisfactory, especially since there is additional support from the department of Trade and Industry. Bravo to Sithole for openly disclosing the amounts given to Moshito especially since the tendency is often to not want to mention figures, where grants are involved, so there can be stealing and getting away with  lack of accountability.

“We are going to use the money to serve the industry (music),” promised Sithole  who with the board he leads perhaps deserve a chance to prove themselves. We are watching!

Moshito is no longer at the Sandton Convention Centre as it has been moved to SABC Radio Park in Auckland Park, Johannesburg between September 4th and the 6th.  

More information on registration and participation can be obtained from the Moshito website: www.moshito.co.za

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