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Baydu Adams at an Outside Broadcast many moons ago working on Heart FM Breakfast Show in CT.

Baydu Adams at an Outside Broadcast many moons ago working on Heart FM Breakfast Show in CT.

Since yesterday and all day today, the talk has been around SABC’s boss “forcing” its 18 radio stations to play ninety percent South African music and leave 10 to the International category. So lets just say you had a show with 10 songs in it per hour then only one of it would be a Chris Brown or a Rihanna or Justin Bieber track. In fact, if your show allowed 10 songs per hour and it was 3 hours long, Chris, Riri and Biebs will be the only International songs you’d hear on that show.

Everyone’s been giving their opinions and there’s been social media debates and those who aren’t in my industry have been piling up the questions.

I work in radio. I’ve been involved or worked in online radio, retail radio, theme park radio, community radio as well as commercial radio. SABC stations are known as Public Broadcasting Stations for obvious reasons. So when Hlaudi Motsoeneng said the 18 stations in its stable will play 90% it seemed like all of South Africa freaked out.

An iol article I found from over a year ago where these music percentage quotas were already being discussed. Have a read.

http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/force-radio-stations-to-play-local-music-1830275

In my heading I said that I’m ok with all of this. Why? Well, firstly, I play in the commercial radio sector and not Public Broadcasting Stations so we’re unaffected but also because maybe it’s time we give South African artists more airplay, especially if you are the country’s broadcaster right? Of course. But is 90% maybe not too much? Who knows! It’s all a trial period of 3 months where they’ll get some public opinion and feedback and then assess if the ninety percent stays or if it needs to be changed.

SABC's 18 stations.

SABC’s 18 stations.

There were tons of mixed reactions on all my friends time lines, especially my radio family. Some calling it ludicrous and others saying it’s about bloody time. This came just after radio stations were told that their SA music quota will be upped and I think PBS would’ve needed to play 60% and many of them were around the 40 to 50 percent before this call was made. Us as the commercial broadcasters would’ve been tasked to play a minimum of 35% local tracks. It stands around 25% at the moment. It was promulgated in March this year and will become law 18 months from the set date.

One guy said they tried something similar some years ago at the station he was working at and according to him, this didn’t work.

Some say this decision comes off the back of SA artists starting a bit of an uprise the last few months, spearheaded by the likes of Don Laka. Many of these stations play a high percentage of SA music right now anyways so it may not even be such big a deal as we make it out to be.

So what are the concerns and questions some people are raising?

Does this mean my favourite station will now change format?

No, it won’t. Look at it as replacing a John Legend song with one by Chad Saaiman.

When will this take effect?

Today. The press release came out yesterday stating the 90% rule takes effect today 12th of May 2016.

Won’t this mean the quality of the station will drop?

Urhm, why should it? Unless they’re playing a shitty song created in someone’s mommys garage. There are tons of good quality local songs out there. Although for some odd reason I’ve never had an affinity to the word “local” :)

Does this mean anybody can now get their song playlisted because they are South African?

No it doesn’t. There is a process. And I don’t think any station will just play a song without the legal documents or registration in place, just because the artists lives in the same town as the station.

I think this is a good move but for now I do think that 90 is too much. But I could be proved wrong and SABC’s listeners will love it and end up playing 100% Safrican music! Or the feedback could say the target is too high lets go for I dunno, 75% maybe.

My concern though as a radio person but an outsider to the PBS, is can they sustain themselves? The one complaint with most commercial radio stations is always “you guys repeat your music”. Do they have enough or over enough SA tracks within their format, that could make for enjoyable listening? I don’t know. I joked that today was AKA, Cassper Nyovest and HHP Day so we’re looking forward to to check if we’ll hear them again tomorrow? 😉

Stations have licence agreements they need to uphold which is why a gospel station cannot simply tomorrow, because the DJ likes it, play punk rock music! So if your genres include pop, dance, RnB, Afro House and hip hop, will you now all of a sudden be able to play old slow jams? Of course you can if it’s still within your format. POC rap music from the 90’s is still rap and hip hop the same way AKA in 2016 is rap and hip hop.

It’s a very interesting time to be in and even more so for the folk who work in the industry with a mic and headphones.

I channel-hopped a few SABC stations throughout the day and some had big bosses on air talking about the changes very confidently and one guy said this encourages new artists to go out and record music. He made an interesting point in that most hits require videos so this opens up a channel for some youngsters to make cash and get into the industry or work on new projects if they’re already in the film industry.

One question I’ve not researched or know the answer to was does this automatically mean the artists would now get way more money than yesterday? I don’t know. Of course they will get royalties should stations play their songs but I don’t know if that is going convert into loads of cash overnight.

Another question I had was if you had a Top 30 / 40 “countdown” / “chart” show last week Saturday, what happens to it this Saturday? Does it just fall away, will it continue or does it get replaced by an SA countdown show? What about the Good Hope FM’s of the world though? They specialise in everything from hip hop to house to Afro house to RnB to pop to dance and everything in between. Which is all good (see what I did there) :) but they’ve become the “mix” capital of Cape Town. This now means all these genres of music mixed into thirty minutes will comprise of 1 three minute song being from overseas and nine songs in that mix, assuming there are 10 songs at 3 minutes each, will be South African.

Anyhoo this was just my opinion on the matter and again, I’m no expert and I surely did not have the time to go and research the topic so don’t shoot me if you disagree with my view point 😉 It was more used as a guidance to those outside the radio industry asking all the questions on my Facebook.

I really hope the plan works out for everyone from the songwriter, producer, singer to radio stations. If it means we can get to be proudly South African around our music too then why not!

We just need to make sure the quality of ALL the songs played are of a high standard and that there are enough songs to go round.

Last thing I want is to not be a fan of an artist and hear his voice 5 times a day :)

Baydu

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2 Responses to SABC plays 90% local music and I’m ok with it – by Baydu Adams

  • Hi Baydu, I do not need to comment in detail, about your observations. Mainly because in my opinion your assessment is perfectly balanced and you pretty much have got everything 100% spot on! You see, as a veteran Mzansi producer and songwriter, (with enough awards and sales under my belt to know that I cannot be too terrible at my craft) all I have ever asked is for our Broadcasters to treat SA Music the same as every other Music, NOT to be patronised as “local” I too cannot stand the smug use of that word, as if they are doing anyone a favour by playing a track of Mzansi origin.

    However, there is ONE aspect we simply cannot lose track of…the vastly different economic realities of Countries and International Major Labels being able to promote their own Product and Culture for that matter. That is where us as a Country, Culture and Independent producers/song-writers/artists are at a distinct disadvantage compared to America in particular, where they arguably dominate overwhelmingly the Global Media spectrum. As a result, a Nicky Minaj or Li’l Wayne or Justin Bieber has an infinitely better chance of becoming a Global Entertainment icon than say a KO, Chad Saaiman, Lira or Karen Zoid etc., regardless of the “International Standard” quality of these fine artists. THAT is where our “local” Industry needs some “affrimative action” to at least give us a fighting chance of sustainability in the face of our new generations (unwittingly) becoming little fake Americans, increasingly oblivious to their South Afrikan Cultural reality.

    One could argue that it’s also a matter of the English Language being the “International Language og choice”…tell that to a highly successful and bustling Bollywood Movie and Music Industry, feeding off more than 40 dialects, sub-cultures and diverse religious persuasions, to make their Artists as revered as any of the Americans.

    I believe this process is a natural re-balancer of the landscape but not the only way in which our Industry needs complete transformation. That’s a subject for a different conversation… Thanks Baydu for a good platform!

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