Music Exchange partners with MTN-backed Ayoba to uplift creatives as industry takes strain | Business Insider

Phumi Ramalepe, Business Insider SA

Music Exchange 11th annual conference (Music Exchange)
  • Music Exchange, an annual entertainment-economy-focused conference, has partnered with MTN-backed app Ayoba. 
  • The partnership aims to share industry insight from local and global speakers as the entertainment industry struggles amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The music conference, which is in its 11th year, is hosted virtually for the second time and runs from September 11 to October 2. 
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Coping with the fallout of the Covid-19 Crisis takes centre stage at the entertainment-economy-focused conference, Music Exchange.

The conference, which is in its 11th year, was put together by Martin Myers in 2009 as a way for music professionals to discuss the financial aspects of the music industry.

The emergence of Covid-19 early last year has put a sharper focus on money matters, as live entertainment in particular has been negatively affected by the pandemic.

According to CEO of Big Concerts Justin van Wyk, about 800,000 people in the South African entertainment industry have lost their livelihoods.

“The cultural and creative industries contribute over R74 billion to the South African economy and have a total economic impact of R241 billion per annum,” said van Wyk to The Citizen. This has resulted in a combined loss of over R600 billion across related sectors. 

A PwC survey also stated that South Africa’s live music industry was hardest hit in 2020 due to cancellation of events, economic disruptions, and a shift in consumer behaviour.

Based on research gathered from 697 respondents, 90% of the live music industry lost income due to Covid-19, while 25% indicated that they would not be able to continue with any elements of their business under lockdown regulations.

Musician, RJ Benjamin’s experience highlighted how the industry had to adapt quickly as result of the crisis. Like many, he assumed that it would only last a few months, but when he started to grasp that it was going be around for a while, it forced him to pivot quickly.

Though live gigs we not happening, Benjamin, who is better known to the public as a singer, figured he could still produce music from home.

How this music ended up being produced surprised him. Instead of putting together an advertising jingle through Zoom or a similar platform, it was done via WhatsApp. The efficiency of this surprised him as it proved there was no need to have a fully equipped studio and four advertising executives to put together a tune.

The crisis also forced Benjamin to ask himself a pertinent question. “Have I been paid every Cent that I’m owed?”

It turns out he was owed some money in terms of music rights like live performances and needle time, which he duly collected.

Ready to adapt

Music Exchange itself was affected by the pandemic as for the second time it had to operate virtually.

Going virtual, however, could very well be an advantage for the conference as this year, it partnered with MTN’s messaging app, Ayoba. This move gave it a potential audience of 500,000, which is far bigger than if it were to be hosted in its previous venue, the Cape Town City Hall.

Music Exchange partners with Ayoba (Music Exchnage
Music Exchange partners with Ayoba (Music Exchange)

“This partnership with Ayoba gives all of its active users access to our content, which we look to share with creatives right across the continent.

“In growing our reach, we get to share our voice by investing decades-worth of insights, learnings, best practice and practical advice that before now was severely lacking. It’s an honour and an exciting next chapter for MEX in helping turn raw talent into commercial success for everyone on the ayoba platform,” said Myers.

Ayoba, offers free instant messaging, voice and video calling, games, music, news, entertainment news, and other content, and allows MEX users to access its content on one of Ayoba’s channels called The Daily Plug via free subscription.

The channels currently have over 400,000 subscribers and offers 40 other channels, including playlists and artist spotlight channels.

“Ayoba is delighted to partner with MEX,” said Ayoba’s head of consumer marketing Olivier Prentout.

‘The education they will be provided [with] via our platform fits so well with our values to entertain, educate and uplift.”

This year, the virtual conference runs from September 11 to October 2, and will cost you R100 for a single ticket.

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