For The Love Of Music

By Jason Curtis

Music Exchange celebrates its second anniversary on 22 and 23 March when the Protea Victoria Junction Hotel, Greenpoint once again plays host to South Africa’s only independent annual music conference.

With its focus squarely on growing and celebrating the music industry and all who play there, Music Exchange is all about opening doors and welcoming dialogue around all things beat centric. Be they musicians, publishers, promoters, song writers, retailers or simple fans, this year’s conference is set to offer participants a veritable feast of opportunity to gleam insight from some of the most successful and respected players in the local and international music arenas.

Along with an already impressive line-up of guest speakers, the biggest coupe for Music Exchange founder and organiser Martin Myers is the inclusion of TouchTunes Interactive Networks Chief Executive Officer Charles Goldstuck who will deliver the conference’s keynote address.

South African born and educated, Goldstuck will be flying in from New York specifically to give the audience his vision and insight into a business that he’s suitably well qualified to speak on. Add music icon and South African Music Award Lifetime Achievement Award lariat Sipho “Hotstix”Mabuse, SAMRO Chief Executive Nick Motsatse, Jake Larsen Head of Music, Nokia Middle East and Africa, Nick Matzukis (music attorney ) and Yoel Kenan (Keevision and Africori founder )amongst others and combined the two day event and special third day workshops are all set to push the impressive boundaries set at last year’s inaugural event.

Goldstuck, a qualified charted accountant and active philanthropist is happy to have accepted the invitation to come home and offer his insights into a business he continues to help grow on a global scale. Before launching TouchTunes in the United States, he sat as the President and Chief Operating Officer of the Bertelsmann Music Group (U.S.), a then division of Sony Music Entertainment. He also, along with industry mogul Clive Davis, started J Records in 2000, home to the likes of Alicia Keys. “I’m excited to see the level of support and interest in South Africa around music in general,” he says. “Music Exchange is a rare opportunity for those invested, at whatever level, in the business of music to look, listen and share at a time when the general perception is that the music industry is in the most precarious place it’s ever been in since recorded music was first made and sold.”

Without giving away just what he intends delivering in his keynote speech on the day, Goldstuck hints at how he perceives the lay of musical land from where he sits in New York, his chosen home since 1985. Having launched TouchTunes, a web based Jukebox system now successfully deployed in over 4000 sites across North America, 2010 will take his company and the technology it employs into the Far East and Australia, leaving him upbeat about the road ahead. “I don’t share the view that the [music] industry is in perpetual trouble. I see a different scenario. Yes we’re definitely in for a few more interesting years ahead, but thereafter the trajectory upward will return,” he foretells.

Fresh from playing at The Motherland Tour at Sun City earlier this month, alongside Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Lira , Sipho Mabuse, as another of the esteemed guest speakers, will deliver the opening address. As an icon and musical ambassador for South Africa and its rich cultural heritage Mabuse is keen to see music lovers unite in injecting new direction into a market that can only grow from the Music Exchange initiative. “In 2011 I celebrate my 50th year as a professional musician,” Mabuse informs. “I owe a great deal to the place that afforded me a career to this day and that’s taken me all over the world. Music continues to give me joy great joy that’s only equalled by that which family offers.”

“Music is a gift,” Goldstuck adds. “As such it’s all in how it’s delivered and just how desirable and great the songs are.” An echoed sentiment first delivered by last year’s keynote address by Stuart Rubin. “That will continue to see fans happily spending their recessionary rands on product they attach a real value to.”

As Steve Jobs grows his Apple orchard and iPads, iPhones and the digital domain in general continues to mature at a rate of knots, the business of music and the makers of hot hit singles need to adapt to the technology that’s captivating and cultivating new audiences everywhere. “In 2001 iTunes did not exist,” Goldstuck points out. “There was no commercially viable digital or e-commerce model at all. And yet, in under a decade, it’s responsible for of a billion legitimate downloads – bought and paid for by the fans. There is so much real opportunity out there right now, not only for artists and music lovers, but for the broader business, to become more involved in capitalising on mobile’s extraordinary take up in this market. Couple that with the impending arrival of true broadband in South Africa and you’ve got a tried a tested formula that simply needs to be replicated. If not by the major record companies then a smart forward thinking independent.”

Add the likes of audio streaming giants Pandora in the US and Spotify in the UK and Europe and the true potential of music penetration into the 14-million-strong South African mobile market becomes a very healthy proposition for any venture capitalist keen to see a return on his or her investment. “Consumption will escalate,” Goldstuck enthuses. “With that comes the opportunity for band and business alike to monetize the medium to the collective good of maker and lover of what’s on sale. This will perpetuate the continued creation of fresh, original music that the world is clearly keen to spend money on – especially of you all the traditional barriers no longer exist.”

In line with the digital theme delegates will also have the opportunity to upload their demo material on www.musicexchange.co.za. Their tracks will then be published, in streaming format. along with a band photograph and biography, giving fledgling artists exposure to the industry experts.

Goldstuck, as with Myers, along with Larsen, Lacey, Kenan and “Hotstix” are all singing off the same choir sheet. From last years sold-out conference it’s clear that the cliché ‘you don’t choose music, it chooses you’, couldn’t ring more true for each and every one of these pioneers who, note-for-note are rewriting the great South African songbook.

Tickets cost R900 and are available online at: www.webtickets.co.za

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