Is local always better? Does it matter whether we support our own talents?
Undoubtedly you have seen the Twitter and Facebook posts expressing deep dissatisfaction for the minimal amount of local music aired on radio. Or perhaps you’ve noticed the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (ICASA) March regulations whereby 60 percent of music aired is to be local. Now, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has upped the percentage to an accelerated 90 percent of music aired to be proudly local.
We’ve experienced quite drastic fluctuations in our local music intake since demands for more local music on radio have been made. It all might seem a bit too good to be true considering how this new regulation of 90 percent has jumped in less than a month by 30 percent. Although, it is not too drastic when you take a better look at the situation. The above-mentioned 90 percent is only applicable to SABC radio stations (all 18 of them) and is first in a trial period of three months to test whether or not the public respond well to the change.
The SABC has stated that this new quota is a response to years of campaigning by local artists and is a means to encourage South African culture and heritage. In doing so, the SABC has said that within this 90 percent of local music, there will be particular attention on the genres of jazz, kwaito and gospel tunes.
In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), SABC spokesman, Kaizer Kganyago, said, “We believe that [it] is important for the people of South Africa to listen to the music that is produced for them by the musicians in South Africa.” Supporting homegrown talent is crucial because if we cannot even support our own artists, how are they expected to make it as a legitimate musician here, let alone in the larger Western markets?
The SABC’s decision has also been praised and supported by our politicians. The African National Congress’ (ANC) national spokesman, Zizi Kodwa, said in a statement, “The groundbreaking decision by the public broadcaster follows an important and successful consultative process with various representatives of the music industry throughout the length and breadth of the country.” The SABC said that this decision of an increased quota for local music on radio was a collaborative choice made by their corporation and professionals involved in the South Africa music industry. So, the decision seems like the best move for local musicians, considering all the deliberations made around this increased quota.
With an increased amount of space for local music to spread, the ANC has great optimism that the public will support the new change too. “We are confident that the people of South Africa will, equally, welcome the changes to local content offering across their radio stations,” said Kodwa.
The SABC has pacified the prior outrages about local music being muted by an excessive focus on music from the West, particularly from America. One of the leaders of these quota campaigns, jazz musician, Don Laka, praised the SABC boss, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, for the 90 percent local music quota. “Today I am proud to be a SOUTH AFRICA[N],” said Laka. He later tweeted on 13 May 2016, “Thank you SABC and the PEOPLE OF SOUTH AFRICA..From Yesterday WE HAVE REGAINED OUR PRIDE AS A NATION.”
With this new-found push forward for local musicians, there’s a surge of optimism about how South African music can now reach higher levels of exposure. Who knows, this 90 percent quota could be just the platform the music industry needs to skyrocket our artists and promote South African culture and national pride. Perhaps, South African music could become a powerful tool to unify our nation. Or maybe our local talents could generate a new international trend in music. From all the positivity, it will be exciting to see what’s next for local music.