It was on the second day of MOSHITO that musician and lecturer, Sello Galane took the stand and spoke about issues that musicians are faced with in their careers. With lots of support from the delegates, Galane raised a number of concerns that he felt needed attention.
During his talk, the attendees seem to have been supportive of the issues Galane was raising as they clapped their hands and blew on flutes. Throughout his presentation the spotlight was mainly on the unfair treatment that he reckons musicians are getting from their recording companies.
Galane said artists are not taken seriously and recording labels always make them (the artists) behave according to how the labels want them to. He further said that artists are not being given the opportunity to understand the principles and requirement of recording contracts. “Artists don't understand the content of their contracts. They also don't have knowledge about the business model of their careers. And as a result, they end up being unaware of what they are letting themselves into".
Another highlight of Galane's presentation was the desire to see recording labels offering artists basic salaries. He said it is surprising that artists who generate income for labels do not have a basic salary yet individuals who work for all the labels do.
For artists to be well informed and understand the obligations of their contracts, Galane reckons there should be workshops and programs that will look at developing artists in terms of understanding music industry protocols.
Galane went on to say that local radio DJs still don't feel comfortable with playing local music. He said he has had a number of talks with different DJs, most of who say the reason that they don't often associate themselves with local music is because it is not of an acceptable production quality. He said some DJs even fail to correctly pronounce the names of local artist but they are loud and exuberant when they talk about international artists. Galane feels that it is time that local radio DJs get supplied with biographies of local artists so they can have something to talk about when playing the artist's song.
Having underlined that local content still needs improvement in terms of its production, Galane said there should be a certain standard that every label complies with. By doing so, he believes that the quality of production will improve and the projects will be of a certain standard.
He also thinks that South Africa is bit-by-bit loosing its unique musical styles. He said artists, producers, musicians and engineers need to go back and revisit and reinvent the old SA musical styles that people identify as uniquely South Africa.
According to Galane , South Africa needs sound engineers and musicians who will be able to mix and master African instruments like Marimba, Dinaka, Kora, Setolontolo/Uhadi, Lekope and drum chimes.
Addressing matters of the heart, Galane feels that SAMRO is not fully looking after its members. He said artists still don't understand the rates that apply to their songs getting played on radio. He said artists lack knowledge as to how much they earn when their songs get played on either community, national or commercial radio stations.
It is true, many artists don't realise what they are getting themselves into when they sign contracts. They often rush into signing contracts because they believe it is the best way to release their projects. Nevertheless, Galane feels that record labels should contribute to improving the lives of artists and be more sensitive to their needs. I just hope the seeds of Galane's presentation have fallen onto fertile soil!
Who is Sello Galane? He is an artist, researcher, arts educator, practitioner and policy analyst from Limpopo. With his demanding musical career, Galane have a full time job and doctoral studies in music at the University of Pretoria. He also owns a label, Kgapane African Music Records (KAMR), which markets his music, organises workshops and supports research into the development of the Kiba genre.