Radio Robs Local Musicians

National Jazz legend, Don Laka, blames popular radio station, Metro FM, for poor income of South African musicians. Laka’s concern over local musicians’ livelihood was voiced on his Facebook in February 2016. The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) responded with consequences of suspension for any DJs’ favouritism in music selection.

Photo by: Ihsaan Haffejee

South African record label co-owner of Kalawa Jazmee and iconic jazz musician, Don Laka, took to his Facebook to voice concern over local Metro FM radio station’s DJs, namely Osikido, Mo Flava, Shiza, Christos, Naves, Malwela and Vinny Da Vinci. Laka said that radio DJs allocate more radio airtime for international artists’ music, particularly from the United States, instead of South African musician’s music. Laka raised this concern as being a major cause behind South African musicians’ difficulties to make a living in the South African music industry.

On Facebook, Laka accused Metro FM DJ’s of corruption. He stated that the music which they play holds personal benefit for the DJs. When interviewed by Music In Africa, Laka voiced that DJs are not musicians and that their being the sharers and creators of music is, thus, “a conflict of interest.”

With regard to Laka’s corruption claims against radio DJs, SABC spokesman, Kaizer Kganyago informed to the DailySun, “if anyone plays their own music, we will suspend them.” The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa  (ICASA) is set to release the final edition of a review of local content conventions at the end of March 2016, which will include music aired on radio.

Laka approximated that 15000 jobs were lost in the South African music industry due to loyalties paid to international music acts above local acts. In succession, Laka also publicized his 2013 loyalties cheque on Facebook which amounted to R3 044.  This post has since been suspended by Facebook, which Laka announced on Twitter.

“Money is constantly leaving South Africa because of the overplaying of international music and this hasn’t been addressed. People need to understand how the music industry works and how big an impact radio airplay has on an artist’s livelihood,” stated Laka in an interview with Destiny Man.

Laka also raised an issue with the SABC in early February with regard to an absence of jazz music, in particular, played on radio stations in the country. Music In Africa reported a non-statement by SABC spokesman, Kaizeer Kganyago, in relation to Laka’s claims. “Music played in South Africa is regulated. Again, there is no way that we can misuse any state resources because we are accountable at the end of the day,” informed Kganyago.

During an interview at SABC Radio Park in Johannesburg, South Africa, Metro FM station manager Sibongile Mtyali spoke with Mail & Guardian about radio quotas. “There are set targets of what we are supposed to deliver in terms of music, especially for local content,” stated Mtyali. She informed Mail & Guardian that the current target audience ages for Metro FM range from 24 to 35 years. Mtyali also revealed that the station has hopes of increasing the amount of local content on their platform.

ICASA quotas for public radio stations require a minimum of 40% South African music played. Quotas for community radio are 40% and commercial radio 25%. “On a monthly basis, Metro FM delivers around 50% of local music, and that’s a target we’ve set for ourselves and that’s how compliant we are with local quotas,” added Mtyali.



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