The knitting of collaborative networks and the shaping of a sustainable fashion future for South Africa – these where some of the most exhilarating trends at South African Fashion Week (SAFW)’s Spring Summer 23 Collections at the Mall of Africa held from 20 – 23 April 2023.
Some snaps from the shows I attended, with thanks to Zebra Square for inviting me.
Sipho Mabuse remarked that “promoting cultural and creative industries is a powerful way to boost the economy and empower” and this should continue unabated.
On 11 May 2021, Music Exchange (MEX) was privileged and equally proud to announce a fundamental partnership with one of the continent’s richest entertainment economy-focused platforms, ayoba.
Today, 4 April 2023, just shy of two years since MEX joined the ayoba fold, we are proud to celebrate the zero-rated app’s momentous million subscriber milestone.
What makes this landmark achievement even more remarkable is that when MEX first began delivering weekly content to the then The Daily Plug channel in May 2021, ayoba had an already impressive subscriber base of just over 800 000 loyal followers. In September of 2022, MEX took over The Daily Plug, and ayoba rebranded the channel to the aptly named Music Exchange.
MEX is proud to remain a committed content partner to ayoba in raising the bar in delivering entertainment-economy content written to empower, entertain and push the needle in fostering this critically important sector of the continent’s economy.
Ayoba users can access MEX by subscribing to the channel at no cost. Simply download the app from the Play Store, register and signup for the channel.
Ayoba also offers over 40 additional music channels, including playlists and artist spotlight channels. MTN users are provided with a daily allocation of free data to access ayoba.
Ayoba, the all-in-one app, offers free instant messaging, voice and video calling, games, music, news, entertainment news, and other content, which MEX now forms a critical part of. In the coming months and years ahead, MEX will share its decade-long journey in actively uplifting and empowering the continent’s creatives, informed by global networks, clients and partnerships like this.
“Music Exchange was established in 2009 as a bridge and guide into the broader entertainment economy,” MEX founder Martin Myers shares. “From the outset, what was clear to us was a real need to help educate and keep safe young, aspiring and established creatives. We’ve successfully achieved that by brokering and investing in masterclasses, an annual conference in its 13th year, and outreach programmes extending as far as the EU.
“This partnership with ayoba gives all of its active users access to our content, which we look to share with creatives across the continent,” he continues. “In growing our reach, we get to share our voice by investing decades-worth of insights, learnings, best practices 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.” – May 2021
“ayoba is delighted to partner with MEX,” comments Olivier Prentout, Head of Customer at ayoba.
“Their work is critical in our creative communities, and we look forward to exposing it via our music blog, Music Exchange. We launched this channel nearly a year ago as we could see the need for education in our community, and the uptake has been nothing short of amazing.
“The education provided via our platform fits so well with our values to entertain, educate and uplift.” – May 2021
The South African Style Awards 2022/3 powered by PLASCON South Africa
Over the 25 years that it has been in existence, the South African Style Awards has redefined the meaning of style, including in every sphere, including in business.
These days, it’s not about the clothes you wear… it’s all about what you have achieved in your respective career that has changed your industry in some definable way.
To celebrate the winners of the 2022/2023 South African Style Awards, an awards ceremony was held at the prestigious Hyde Park Corner Shopping Centre, renowned as the iconic destination for discerning shoppers, luxury designer brands, and fine dining establishments.
On Sunday , stalwarts in business, colourful creatives, and influential personalities were celebrated in 13 different categories for disrupting the creative process of business.
The eagerly anticipated and highly acclaimed SA Style Awards ceremony was South Africa’s nod to the international awards season.
It’s the local equivalent of the annual New York Met Gala and has proved to be as exciting and dramatic.
This year’s exclusive event was hosted by none other than TV and radio personality Alan Ford together with stunning TV host, actress, dancer and model, Lalla Hirayama.
Media personalities and celebrities gathered together to experience an unmatched Red Carpet celebration with this magnificent list of achievers.
The winners include:
Most Innovative Style winner: Acclaimed content creator and businesswoman, Kim Jayde,
Most Stylish Performing Artist in Film/TV winner Nambitha Ben-Mazwi,
Most Stylish Performing Artist in Music winner Boity Thulo,
Most Stylish Media Personality winner Leanne Manas,
Most Stylish Fashion Designer winner Craig Jacobs,
Most Stylish Model winner Rosette Ncwana,
Most Stylish Business Personality winners Jeff and Teddy Zaki,
Most Stylish Couple winners Lamiez Holworthy and Khuli Chana,
Most Stylish Changemaker winner Refilwe Modiselle,
The Next Big Thing winners Galaletsang Tshungu, also known as Halle Robinson and Lebo George Molaolwa, also known as Lebo Molax,
Style Icon winner Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse.
Each SA Style Awards winner was a guest of the trendy Southern Sun, Hyde Park for the night of the Awards Ceremony.
They also received a sumptuous night stay at the prestigious @Sandton Hotel in the Presidential Suite, experiential luxury treatments from LUEUR Aesthetics & Wellness spa and their wonderful suppliers, gifts from Panier de Sens and Kendall and Kylie Ready-to-Wear as well as hair treatments from the home of hair care, Carlton Hair.
South Africa’s first lady of house and 2010 SA Style Awards winner, Tamara Dey kept the charming crowd on their feet with her new number one sweet serenade “Disco Therapy”.
Guests enjoyed a sumptuous floating dinner at the Southern Sun Rooftop where they toasted the esteemed winners with VALDO prosecco and Nicki Van Der Walt’s new rosé Mirabelle.
After the star-studded event, they received the highly sought-after SA Style Awards Gift Bag, a series of luxurious gifts by top international brands including the sartorial French cosmetics brand Panier de Sense, known for its exclusive, sustainable products and Kylie and Kendall, both provided by the 51Group.
The main sponsor PLASCON organised an exceptional gift – a colourful macaron tower from Just Teddy. Guests could personally select some of these delicacies to take home with them.
Said PLASCON South Africa’s Suvasin Moodley, PLASCON South Africa Head of Decorative Marketing: “PLASCON South Africa is proud to be part of the SA Style Awards 2022/3.
Recognition, celebration, and validation of contribution in composition was the theme on Friday, Jul. 22, 2022, at the University of Cape Town (UCT) when the District-Six-born Dr Trevor Jones accepted a Doctor of Music, honoris causa.
Marc Marot, responsible for over 100m album sales at Island records, was in SA for 16 days for the 2022 Music Exchange conference in Cape Town and Johannesburg
Marc’s publishing signings include, amongst many others, Massive Attack, De La Soul, Julia Fordham, and Shakespeare’s Sister (Marcy Levy).
Amongst the Artists signed and developed by his team while at Island Records were: • Pulp • PJ Harvey • The Stereo MCs • P.M. Dawn • The Cranberries • Elbow • Chaka Demus and Pliers • NWA • The Orb • Ice Cube • Talvin Singh • Tricky • Nine Inch Nails
Albums of the year – Moreira Chonguica – Sounds of Peace and Steve Louw Thunder and Rain.
Band of the year in SA – Temple Boys out of Cape Town, “Saggies” was the big song.
Global act – Bad Bunny is a Puerto Rican rapper and singer. His musical style is defined as Latin trap and reggaeton.
His second tour of 2022 doubled the gross of his last record-breaking trek: The World’s Hottest Tour grossed $232.5 million and sold 944,000 tickets from just 21 shows in the US.
Then you have Harry Styles at #2 and Taylor Swift at #3, as far as international acts are concerned.
What was the most significant benefit that music streaming has brought to live music?
It’s made music discovery borderless. Maybe for the first time in pop music history, it doesn’t matter which language you’re singing in. Five years ago, the idea of Bad Bunny selling stadiums in the USA was crazy.
R. Kelly gets 30 years of jail time.
Things went from bad to worse for R. Kelly in 2022. After being convicted last year in New York on racketeering and sex trafficking charges, the disgraced R&B singer was sentenced to 30 years in prison on those charges in June.
Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” blasted back onto the Hot 100 at No. 8 (Jun. 11) and reached a No. 3 high in July, powered by its synch in the fourth season of Netflix’s Stranger Things. Having charted initially, rising to #30, in 1985, the song wrapped the longest run to the Hot 100’s top five in terms of time from a debut on the ranking in the Top Five – 36 years, nine months and two weeks.
Exactly one decade ago, on Dec. 21, 2012, Psy’s “Gangnam Style” made history as the first music video to reach 1 billion YouTube views.
As a result, YouTube’s Billion Views Club was born. A way to celebrate official videos that have achieved peak virality, the club is now home to over 300 music videos, including many of the most iconic hits from the past 10 years — from Adele’s “Hello” to Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito”, featuring Daddy Yankee.
Consequently, for major-label artists, one billion video streams on an official music video would generate about $2.6 million globally. That’s, of course, before the label takes their cut of royalties, which varies widely based on each artist’s deal, and before the artist considers what, if anything, they owe to their featured artists or producers on the track.
On the 12th of November 2022 I got the opportunity to attend Music Exchange 2022 (#MEX22). I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and after two years of lockdown, I’ve become a bit of a recluse, not really wanting to attend anything. But I put on my big boy pants and headed off to Auckland Park to attend the music conference and see what I could learn, contribute and assimilate from the list of gathered luminaries. Additionally, I wanted to support some of my friends and mentors who were speaking at #Mex22.
The conference, in its 12th year, was hosted in Johannesburg for the first time (usual location Cape Town). Music Exchange or MEX is the brain child of Martin Myers, a former record executive, who decided that the industry should get together and exchange ideas. The conference, from my estimation, aims to bring the new generation of music maker and leader into contact with established music industry practitioners. In this way the “OGs” can impart their wisdom and experiences to the newbies, assisting them to make decisions that will result in sustainable music careers. For 12 years Martin has hustled and networked, securing some of the world’s greatest music industry leaders who have presented at MEX. This has made the conference one of the most anticipated events on the South African music business calendar.
The venue for the Johannesburg leg of the conference was the Academy of Sound Engineering, one of the premier institutions of audio higher learning in South Africa. The institution was started 15 years ago by three visionaries: Nick Matzukis (lawyer) George Hattingh snr. (sound engineer) and Timothy Kraft (producer, mixing engineer and musician). It offers full-time and part-time courses in music business and a vast array of audio and sound engineering areas of specialisation, including video editing, audio technology, live sound, motion graphics. The facilities are immaculate and students get to interact directly with the industry, as some of the studios are housed in the adjacent SABC (the epicentre of entertainment in South Africa), where MEX was hosted. Furthermore, because most of the faculty are professional music practitioners, the institution is a melting pot of interactions between industry and academia.
Standing around waiting for proceedings to commence I got to meet one of South Africa’s, and world’s, greatest score composers, Trevor Jones. The composer has written music for movies such as “The Last of the Mohicans”, “In The Name of the Father”, “Notting Hill”, “I. Robot” and “Mississippi Burning”. The movies for which he has scored music have generated over $4billion worldwide. I have written about this icon before, but never imagined I would get the opportunity to meet him in person. Meeting Dr Jones face to face was validating and reminded me of why I do what I do. People often say, don’t meet your idols, they will disappoint you. That was certainly not the case in this instance. Trevor Jones is engaging, charismatic and has many valuable pearls of wisdom to impart.
One of my take aways from my personal interaction with Dr Trevor Jones was mentorship. He spoke about his mentor, former Univeristy of Cape Town vice-chancellor Dr JP Duminy, who identified his talent at a young age and organised for him to study music at the Royal Academy of Music in the UK. After leaving for London in the 1960s (aged 17), he never returned to South Africa, making Britain his permanent home. He added that whenever Dr Duminy visited the UK he would always make a point of meeting with him to enquire about his progress. Dr Jones conveyed the importance of mentorship, and how one needs to give back if one has been blessed with good mentors. This is something close to my heart and, therefore, the message resonated with me.
In my life I have had, and still have, various mentors and guides with whom I consult on a plethora of topics. These are people I respect and look up to and include Adv. Nick Matzukis, Prof. Caroline Van Niekerk, David Alexander, Dr Boudina McConnachie, Graeme Currie, Dio Dos Santos, and the late great Marianne Feenstra. Whenever I need to bounce things off people or an objective perspective, these are the people from whom I seek counsel. A career can be a long, lonely and arduous journey and sometimes one just needs the assistance of someone who knows better to point one in the right direction. As I have been blessed with so many great people, I hope I have offered others the same level of guidance and counsel.
A few minutes after meeting Dr Jones, I got the opportunity to meet another legend from the music industry, Marc Marot, former Managing Director of Island Records and Island Music. He started his career at the company as the general manager of Blue Mountain Music, the publishing division of the famous recording label in 1984, and got to work closely with Island founder, Chris Blackwell. Blackwell is a legend in the music business, who discovered Bob Marley, made him a star and inadvertently introduced the world to Reggae.
Marc Marot was eventually made the managing director of Island Records and in his tenure signed and promoted the likes of U2, Pulp, PJ Harvey, PM Dawn, The Cranberries, Stereo MC’s, Massive Attack, NWA and De La Soul…that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Once again, Marc was a humble and jovial guy, who just wanted to share his story and help. I’d only been at the conference for a few minutes and in that time had met two big players from the industry, both of whom were amazing individuals, with good intentions and a willingness to help.
Martin Myers officially started proceedings…and off we went. Nothing could have prepared me for the profound experience and journey I was about to undertake. Listening to the words of icons like Trevor, Marc, Nick Matzukis and “Stream Queen” Gillian Ezra, was a career affirming experience. All of this happened in an SABC basement recording studio. One couldn’t have asked for a better location. Listening to legends of music in a venue steeped and marinated in South African music history.
The first talk was chaired by my dear friend, recording artist and Metro FM award winner, RJ (Roy) Benjamin, one of the country’s most talented songwriters, producers and musicians. Roy hosted an informative discussion with Dr Trevor Jones, in which the score composer travelled down memory lane and shared some inside music business stories. He imparted a lot of sagely advice, but one of the things that stuck with me was the topic of music snobbery, which is sadly something I have encountered on one too many occasions in my personal music career.
In South Africa Classically trained musicians love classifying anything released post 1910 (I’m being histrionic) as “light music”, considering this sort of contribution inferior. The Jazz aficionados look down on the Pop music makers and the Pop musicians don’t care if they are not taken seriously because they are the ones making money. It is all very unnecessary as we, in the music industry, should stick together to unify and strengthen the business, instead of tearing each other down. The consolation is that the issue is not exclusive to South Africa but rather a worldwide phenomenon.
Trevor Jones made another valid point and that was about treating music as a career. He articulated that musicians can sometimes be precious about the work they produce, but the reality is that one just needs to get the job done and not overthink things (give the client what they want). “In order to stay in the game you need to be in the game”, if one is not creating content there is nothing to promote. Whilst this is true of someone in his space, where score composers are often commissioned to create music, it may be different for recording artists.
That being said, there are many recording artists that barely release content because they don’t feel their end product is good enough or they just need to tweak this or that. As Gillian Ezra elaborated in a side bar conversation, the new music dispensation rewards recording artists based on the regularity of content releases. The algorithms have been designed to promote artists and give them preferential play listing based on the consistency of their output. Therefore, if one waits too long between releases the platforms will forget the artist and they will lose their preferential placement.
The second speaker was music executive, Marc Marot. Marc was a very confident, eloquent and lively orator, who did not need anyone to guide his talk. He captured the audiences attention from the outset and sprinkled his presentation with many humorous and interesting music industry anecdotes. One of the take aways from his speech was the topic of professionalism. The general public often has a perception that Rock stars are irreverent, drug abusing, prima-donnas who only work under ideal circumstances. The thing is that “Rock Stars” could never attain the fame, fortune, accolades and respect they have if that were the case. This made sense to me.
Marc articulated that in all his years in the business he never experienced an artist who was high in a recording session (outside a session is another story). He illustrated his point by conveying a story about David Bowie, who one would think would be the biggest aggressor in this regard. He stated that the Rock Star would always be at a session at least two hours before the time, doing the requisite checks and balances and that one could time him by the hand of a clock as to when the session would start. Always on time and professional. I guess what differentiates real stars from “flashes in the pan” is professionalism. Those that do the work are the ones who ultimately obtain and retain super star status. The Rolling Stones, for example, would’ve never lasted in the industry for 60 years if they didn’t put in the work.
Which brings me to my next take away from the Marc Marot presentation, “Bittersweet Symphony” and the ensuing court case drama between the iconic band, their publisher (Allen Klein) and The Verve. I’m not going to go into the specifics, because I think Marc should add that to his biography, but my take away from the whole story was how Mick Jagger and Keith Richards eventually gave away their rights in the song to The Verve. This was after many years of fighting in the courts and an unreasonable publisher. Keith and Mick didn’t need to give away the rights, to which they were lawfully entitled, but I guess they felt that they had attained enough success in their careers and that someone else should be given a break. This was sportsmanly behaviour which is seldomly reported in the media.
Marc ended his talk by making an observation about South African music education, which I felt was profound considering he doesn’t have working knowledge of our industry. He stated that we should invest in a proper music education infrastructure in South Africa, that aims to train not only the future musicians of the country, but also the music industry leaders. He went on to ventilate that in the UK there are various qualifications that prospective music business leaders can pursue, which prepare them for a career. This articulates into graduates who are adequately prepared to lead the industry. He added that since the implementation of these programmes the music business, in the UK, has experienced a reversal of fortunes. I mean…he is preaching to the converted as I’ve been attempting to proselytise this gospel for the longest time.
After Marc spoke it was the turn of Nick Matzukis, businessman, educationalist and music rights activist/advocate. I have looked up to Nick for many years. He is one of the most ethical and principled individuals I’ve ever met and has helped many people in the South African music industry in his journey. His talk was about revenue streams in the music industry and artist/music creator’s rights, which I found very informative and validating as this was the focal area of my PhD. My take away from the whole talk was the need for the consolidation of the South African music industry. I find the functioning of the industry unnecessarily complicated and it can be a minefield for someone who has not properly informed themselves. Even those who do know what’s going on struggle at times. That’s how complicated it is.
There are various bodies to which a songwriter/musician/composer/content creators can belong, who collect different types of monies for their members. It is noteworthy to observe that some of these bodies are linked to each other, yet they will not necessarily convey these links to creatives applying at their organisations. I believe that in order to streamline processes in the South African music industry a central point should be established to help creators/artists determine what to do with their intellectual property. At this central point an artist can establish to which bodies they should belong and complete the relevant paperwork, which will be submitted to the associated bodies. This will demystify the industry for the creative and prevent them from falling through the cracks. It could function like a brokerage or consultancy, which will either do the administration for the artist or advise and point them in the right direction or both.
I was unable to attend the second day, but the information I walked away with from my exposure to MEX 22 was not only invaluable, it was validating and inspiring. What further impressed me were the number of “heavy weights” from the South African music industry in attendance, listening and magnanimously exchanging ideas (the premise of the conference). People like Mark Rosin (SAMRO CEO and SA music business royalty), Lance Stehr (iconic SA record executive), Siphokazi Jonas (poet) and Malie Kelly (SA celebrity and vocal coach). Not to mention the presenters: Dr Trevor Jones, Marc Marot, Nick Matzukis, RJ Benjamin and Gillian Ezra.
The idea of sharing ideas and being in the presence of such greatness is an opportunity that does not come around often. Speaking to these industry giants and oracles, on this platform, is an experience that should be embraced by anyone wanting to pursue a career in music. The concept behind MEX is refreshing, inspirational, empowering and liberating. It’s a space where everyone is on an equal footing, respectfully exchanging and learning from each other. It reminded me of the “We Are The World” recording session in 1985. When Quincy Jones was confronted with the prospect of having to facilitate a session with some of the world’s greatest stars and foreseeing that people might bring their egos to the room, he wrote a sign which was placed at the entrance to the recording studio which read “check your egos at the door”.
That is exactly what MEX 22 was. Although the room was filled with some of the greatest music industry practitioners the world has birthed, people were able to share, speak and exchange with no egos in the room or judgement. From my estimation MEX 22 achieved what it set out to achieve, which was to bring the young and established parts of the industry together to exchange ideas. Moreover, 12 years into the conference it seems it acquired new momentum with its foray into a new city and new thinking, evolving to its new iteration. Hopefully this is not the end of the innovations and amazing work done in the name of the conference and industry and hopefully there’ll be many more MEXs to come. Until we meet again…