An opening address by Jim Griffin, Managing Director of Virginia-based digital music delivery consultancy, OneHouse LLC, on Aug. 31st set the tone for the three-day Moshito Music Conference in central Johannesburg.
Now in its eighth year and due to finish today (Sept. 2nd), Moshito is South Africa's only annual music conference attended primarily by representatives of indie labels across the country along with music managers, artists, promoters and publishers.
This year Moshito includes several sessions on copyright issues in South Africa, the health of South Africa's live music circuit, the possibilities of creating a pan-Africa live circuit, and the issue of local content on South African radio. Speakers include Austin-based SXSW music festival co-ordinator, Matt Sonzala, Ben Herson, founder of NYC-based label, Nomadic Wax and raft of African and South African speakers.
In his keynote address - titled "Marshall McLuhan was right: The Medium is the Message' - Griffin challenged delegates to innovate around music delivery.
"It's great that in Africa that you are thinking so much about creating great music," he said.
"But what you should consider is that the medium by which music is delivered is also within your creativity - and your ability to innovate; your ability to control. You don't need to follow the way the rest of the world listens to music. Today you can develop new ways of appreciating, delivering and distributing it. "
Quoting from James Gleick's book, 'The Information', Griffin said the "most advanced wireless communication system in world originated in Africa with tribal drums". He urged delegates to take advantage of the fact that "Africa has been a leader for a long time, in just this kind of communication - in speaking to one another in ways that are quicker and that communicate more effectively that simply following the rest of the world".
Picking up on the theme of African communications was Arthur Goldstuck, MD of Joburg-based World Wide Worx, which analyses trends in information technology, particularly mobile and internet.
In a session on the future of digital music in Africa, Goldstuck said his company's research forecast that the number of internet users in South Africa is likely to be 15-million by 2015, up from 6.8-mllion internet users at the end of 2010. "This is premised on one thing - the rise of the smart phone," Goldstuck emphasised.
Goldstuck said this boded positively for the consumption of digital goods, including music across Africa. "From 2013 through the rest of the decade we will see a massive arrival of digital immigrants and this will affect all areas of digital use in South Africa," Goldstuck told delegates. In his presentation, Goldstuck pointed to the arrival of the Seacom cable, an undersea cable along the eastern and southern coasts of Africa that was switched on mid-2009, as the turning point in creating a significant generation of digital participants from 2013 onwards. "This kind of impact can also be seen in other countries in Africa that are getting cheaper Internet access through Seacom and other undersea cables."