Midem Report: Black Coffee on Making Music In Africa

Black Coffee
Courtesy Photo

Black Coffee

South African DJ and producer Black Coffee took the stage at Midem in Cannes as the final panelist during Tuesday’s Midem African Forum. Coffee, who is also this year’s Midem Artist Accelerator Artist Ambassador, spoke about his company, GongBox, and about the challenges and opportunities of making music in Africa. Here are some key thoughts from the keynote, moderated by Stem CEO Milana Rabkin Lewis.

On the “African Dream”:
“We don’t need handouts but […] for us it’s still easier to ask for money than to see that we have money already. Africa is ready to create a new Africa, where we create solutions that are by us and for us.” ” 

On why he created his new service Gongbox, which aggregates, creates and produces content in a single platform, including streaming video and music: 
“For the longest time we’ve been plugging in to everything the world has been bringing to us. I wanted to create a platform for myself where I know I own 100% of the music […] Growing up with my business, I saw a need for a platform like Gongbox.” 

GongBox began as a platform to find music by South African artists and expanded from there. “It began, with, ‘where do I find my music?’ Also, how do I reach my friends. If I post a picture on Twitter and say, ‘I’m going to Cannes for a festival,’ and one person says, ‘Nice shoes,” the conversation becomes about shoes. But if there’s a platform that’s created just for music, and if you want to know anything about my work,” that’s GongBox. 

“It's a platform where we want to start telling our own stories, owning our own South African moments, our own South African movies. I can still tweet, but if you want to know anything about my whereabouts, where I collaborate, there’s one place where you can find all this information. 

On how music consumption is different in Africa: 
Although the market is there, the consumption is different and there is no one size fits all, he says. "Everything you see on TV about Africa is bullshit." Black Coffee has invested in a payment solution called Yoco designed to support small businesses that can’t afford normal paying solutions. 

On supporting creativity from the get-go: Black Coffee helps FAM (Fashion, Arts and Music), a school for arts and music. “Because everything we consume is created by someone else, let's create for ourselves and then we can involve other people. But we need to create our own rules.” 

On becoming a major artist without outside capital:
“Yes you can,” he says flatly. “One fellow artist tweeted: 'There’s no way Black Coffee doesn't have some Jewish money behind his brand,' which was quite offensive. There IS money. You need to diversify. Instead of buying the next new Mercedes maybe you can put that money somewhere else [in your career]."

You can see the full interview here: