The digital age has taken over and the fact that you’re reading this on a blog instead of a newspaper is proves this to be fact. In the midst of the metamorphosis of the different forms of communication that people have become accustomed to, there are mediums of communication that may never lose their flair and radio is one of them. The manner in which audiences and fans engage with their latest and favourite music still seems to bring a community of fans together. The power of the audience has been intensified through the sharing of good tunes, and the rating and changing of music charts through social media.
The South African Broadcasting Corporation, the biggest national producer of entertainment- from television to radio- took the bold decision this past Thursday, 12 May 2016 to change the radio and local music industry. Radio stations are known for their variety in content that cuts across the board, from allowing South Africans to jam to the latest tracks topping European-American charts, to ensuring that they also dap to their local is lekker hit makers and before the end of the week. All this took an unexpected turn in favour of home grown sounds. The SABC has decided that all 18 radio stations will be required to play 90% local music, with the genres kwaito, gospel, reggae and jazz taking the forefront.
This decision is not something which was out of reach. Rather, the decision has been regarded as something that has been a long time coming and, thus, has been welcomed with open arms by a wide range of die hard patriotic local music and radio fanatics. Platinum recording and award winning hip-hop artist Cassper Nyovest among many others, was one of the first local artists to convey his excitement on the patriotic move on social media, in a Facebook post, with a caption reading: “As of tomorrow there will 90 % local music playing on radio!!! It’s now an official law!!! What a time!!! To be alive!!!…” Nyovest’s views on bumping up local music up were clearly outlined in an interview with local news station eNCA where he shared his sentiments on how it was more than just a reflection of the progress of local music, but also discussed its contributions and expected effects on the music industry. Positive feedback dominated social media after the news broke out with radio fans sharing their new radio experiences.
Although positive feedback from fans were trending, like anything some views were expressed regarding the possible detrimental effects, ranging from failure to generate variety in the content or in some instances, whether this move is sustainable and these concerns were met by Tiyani Maluleke’s response, the marketing general manager of the South African Music Rights Organization (Samro) in a comment released assuring audiences that the local music industry has enough quality offerings to bring to the table.
There are plenty of advantages that come from playing international acts as much as they have been on local radio before. However, the SABC’s move to bump the local music quota up to a steep 90% and proudly placing locally produced music in the forefront might ensure that it is savored on a whole new level. This might possibly secure longevity, not only for artists in the industry, but also for the industry itself. This decision might be just what South Africa’s attempts in transformation needs.