It is a lovely ideal, that image we have of our own African inspired musicians creating the most original African music, getting recognition globally and sharing stages with the biggest international musicians. It is, however, sad to realise that after so many years, these same musicians are not getting enough support from ‘those already in the game’ and fans who should believe in them so much to get them to these levels.
The community that these talented musicians present their art to is complicated. For example, there is those that simply prefer ‘international music’ to African music, while they will still be proud if an African musician makes it to ‘international stages’ – like African music was never international enough. The majority of the community is, sadly, still ignorant to the art being groomed in our land.
The African music scene is getting as big as it is getting small. Now more than ever there are great musicians walking into be; bedroom studios or small independent/ major record label studios coming out with radio quality music, but only the established musicians are played and paid. Most of the upcoming musicians and record labels are very low on funding and can not fully support the musician to be able to make strides that are career developing. Just getting your song on iTunes is a great struggle and accomplishment for most up-coming musicians.
In South Africa, until recently, Datafile Host has been the number one host for most upcoming musicians, SoundCloud and Audiomack also topping the ranks. Then Hype Magazine introduced ‘Hype Music’ and SlikourOnLife introduced ‘The Streets’, giving hope to upcoming musicians who are, however, quickly learning that these platforms might not not be as interactive, and because they are high traffic platforms their structure can leave your song lost in the bunch, unless you are the lucky one to get an exclusive publishing and stay on their home pages for days. And attempting to make use of apps such as Joox could discourage you from screaming “proudly South African” as nothing there says African besides that ‘.co.za’ in their domain name – and how is offline, data free and quality streaming only added as VIP benefits?
For most of these musicians the first and probably only, point of distribution is their WhatsApp contacts, where most of the best songs also get lost. To get downloads you really have to push these contacts to send broadcast messages with links to their contacts, something that they hate passionately. Everybody is also apparently ditching Facebook, Instagram will judge your pictures before they can listen to your music and our ‘black twitter’ awaits eagerly to tear you apart, just make one bad move.
Most of the upcoming musicians’ songs are never registered, mainly due to lack of knowledge on how the music business side of things work. The releases are also never followed by any form of press releases due to a lack of ‘accessible’ platforms for such, or any form of visuals due to the expenses involved in shooting a video that Channel O or MTV will play. Its hurdle after hurdle surfacing and hindering upcoming musicians to break in as the music scene continually grows. A few are however, starting to give an ear to these musicians and starting to recognise their art.
So as Dope Off the Press (DOP) we are doing our bit to assist these musicians, giving them a platform to speak, other than through their music of course. We go out to sort for these musicians and present them to you and give them a platform to become stars and share their art and lifestyles with you. We share this platform with record labels, fashion designers, tattoo artists, video directors and production companies, graffiti artists etc. who can send their publications and advertise their businesses on DOP. And last by not least, you the fans can now learn about these artists and show them your support so they become local musicians with voices recognised globally.