Choosing a career in South Africa’s music industry requires passion and tenacity in equal measure. While exceptional musical talent is critical to establishing and growing a fan base for an artist’s craft, it’s not nearly enough. As a result, the local music industry is plagued with talented musicians who die as paupers regardless of their popularity amongst music lovers.

 “Music is not just about entertainment, it’s an art-form that speaks to society about life struggles and achievements, love, religion, government and more. Importantly, for those it supports, music is a business and it must make money and sustain itself,” says platinum selling artist and producer and Executive Head of A&R at Sony Music Africa, Zakes Bantwini.

 According to the IFPI, a key player in the recording industry worldwide that represents 1,300 recording companies across the globe, South Africa’s story is one of underperformance. A major problem is the limited development of the digital sector. Digital services accounted for just 8 per cent of record company revenues in 2012, according to the IFPI. iTunes only entered the market in December 2012, and SA’s first streaming service, Simfy Africa, only began trading in September 2012. High data charges and low bandwidth only exacerbate the problem.

 But despite these challenges, South Africa’s passion for making music remains high. IFPI’s national group, RISA, has reportedly seen its membership grow from 500 to 2,000 in the last five years. Many newer member companies are artists who are in fact releasing their own material.

 South Africa is indeed a major hub for repertoire creation, with its diverse music genres reflecting its people. Massive untapped opportunity exists as more and more local artists gain popularity with South African audiences. Sharing insights into the nuances of music entrepreneurship and new marketing strategies in the cut-throat recording industry, Zakes Bantwini’s Mayonie Productions together with the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) will be hosting a Forum event titled “The Business of Music” on Tuesday, 26 May from 18h00 – 19h30. Bantwini will be joined by a panel of music industry experts that includes Danny K, J Something – lead singer for Mi Casa, Abbey Mokgwatsane – CEO of Ogilvy & Mather SA and Sean Watson – Sony Music Africa CEO. To register, phone 011 771 4390 or visit the GIBS website at

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