By CityLife Arts Writer
For the past 7 years Concerts SA has supported music touring across the southern African region. This year, with the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic necessitating a lockdown of live music and activities, the impact on musicians’ ability to earn an income has been devastating. Alternative sources of income needed to be explored, and Concerts SA’s recent research into digital livestreaming initiatives sought to provide a sense of the current livestreaming landscape in SA. The research culminated in the release of the first Concerts SA Digital Mobility Fund available for musicians to apply for livestreaming projects with or without an audience.
Of those who applied for this funding, 63 music projects were selected to receive support and the results are out.
Concerts SA is a live music project that has impacted over 9000 artists and 800 venues in the past seven years across South Africa and the SADC region. Aimed at supporting live music, the Digital Mobility Fund finds its roots in the Concerts SA Music Mobility Fund. Initiated in 2013 and offering opportunities for South African musicians to undertake music tours across southern Africa, artists who have received support include Freshlyground, Madala Kunene, Moonchild Sanelly, Samthing Soweto, DJ Lag, Bombshelter Beast, The Brother Moves On, Sibot, Taxi Violence, Sibusile Xaba, Msaki, and the Make-Overs. To encourage ongoing ‘movement’ in the locked-down music sector, Concerts SA opened the call for applications for the 2020 DIGITAL MOBILITY FUND in September this year.
The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown laid bare the plight of the struggling live music industry and Concerts SA produced the first South African research into this crisis. Published online under the title Digital Futures? Live streaming in South Africa (http://www.concertssa.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Digital-Futures-online.pdf), the research points to the importance of livestreaming as an alternative source of income, and offers artists, government and art supporters advice on how best to operate in lockdown conditions and develop new models into the future. The culmination of this research, thanks to the Norwegian Embassy, was a pivot into the Digital Mobility Fund which offers a subsidy for music livestreaming projects in two categories – livestreaming without an audience and livestreaming with an audience.
A total of 130 high quality applications were received for this first iteration of the Digital Mobility Fund. Applicants hailed from all parts of South Africa and formed a rich kaleidoscope of cultures, traditions, genres, idioms and origins. The adjudication process was extremely challenging since a limited number of applications could be approved. With the adjudication process now complete, Concerts SA is excited and eager to see how the successful applicants develop their work online. Selected music projects will receive a R15 000 subsidy for livestreaming without an audience and a R25 000 subsidy for livestreaming with an audience. The projects selected for the Digital Mobility Fund can be found on the Concerts SA website, www.concertssa.co.za, and include both established and emerging professional artists.
‘Live Music is the bread and butter for most musicians and composers in South Africa’, said SAMRO CEO Mark Rosin, ‘and we are proud to be associated with Concerts SA and this innovative concept of a Digital Mobility Fund which, in these difficult times, allows our musicians to be supported, and to earn revenue and continue inspiring audiences while sharing their creativity.’
‘We are grateful to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Levedo Foundation for helping Concerts SA support live music, and giving musicians hope by fostering new ways of doing business to generate income to sustain themselves and their families as the sector battles with recovering from the pandemic and its associated pandemonium. For us and for many artists there is no new normal, but there are new ways of being and rebuilding our sector together,” said Concerts SA Project Manager and Managing Director of IKS Cultural Consulting, Andre le Roux.