Matt to participate in 2009 Moshito Conference, Johannesburg, South Africa
Matt has been invited to participate as a panelist at this year’s Moshito Music Conference and Exposition at the Museum Africa, Newtown, Johannesburg South Africa. September 2-5.
“Now entering its fifth year, Moshito as it is known is focused even more keenly on its objective of broadening the business intelligence of music industry professionals in South African and the continent, strengthening business networks for participants and informing delegates, traders and the public about the multifaceted and dynamic nature of the global music industry.” The event takes place from September 2-5.
Matt will be taking part in the session discussions covering the topics of:
“Opportunities of South African music within the US markets. What are the possibilities?”
“How to get in and operate within the music industry.”
Here’s my boarding pass, “MattProfessor Jenson”
It’s 10:30pm in Johannesburg, S. Africa and after a grand total of 18 hours flying time, I’M COMPLETELY COOKED. En route I watched 3 movies and read a few chapters of the Nelson Mandela biography I brought with me. That gentleman is one hell of a transcendent character devoted to the positive uplifting of humanity. I would love to meet him! One of the movies I saw was The Day The Earth Stood Still (Keno Reeves) and that was a very very tantalizing movie to juxtapose against learning more about Mandela’s life.
With some sleep under my belt I’ll be ready to go all day and all night tomorrow. I’m scheduled to do a joint presentation with David Stopps (of www.fmlmusic.com) entitled quite simply, “How to make Money in music.” I’ll be backing him up with my excerpts regarding 2 different models of crowdfunding.
I’ve only seen the inside of the Joburg airport and the hotel so not much to say about this city except that it kinda feels like NYC. It’s HUGE.
Day two at Moshito was a marathon. I decided to walk to the Museum Africa where the event is taking place instead of taking a cab, mainly so I could see some of the city. It’s quite metropolitan, feels a bit like NYC. But reports of muggings after dark are many. In any case, what I’ve seen so far is quite nice.
Here I am with Mandla Makwela, the Moshito Coordinator.
The Museum Africa is a beautiful and large structure in the Newtown arts district. A VERY modern building, funky architecture. The Moshito event is a well organized with vendor booths representing all kinds: various festivals through out southern Africa, SAMRO (the African ASCAP or BMI), Joburg Arts Council, M Audio, a local production and engineering school hoping to become acredited soon, musical instrument makers and more. I had a small booth with the Berklee materials that were send ahead of time which I frequented through out the day to answer questions.
There are perhaps 4-5 well equipped rooms (I mean well equipped with plenty of A/V equipment and staff that know the equipment well and who are very nice and professional!), used for the multitude of presentations taking place. I hit the ground running as I was scheduled to make my presentation with David Stopps (www.fml.com) entitled simply “How to Make Money with Music”. David is a UK based heavy in the world of international arts copyright and has been tour manager for the likes of David Bowie (in the 70’s) and scads of others. (now works with Howard Jones) David lead the session (which was nearly full) with a well organized talk outlining the various income streams for performers and “authors” (song writers, arrangers etc). Then he went into discussion of the importance of the internet and amongst other things, kept saying “get as many email addresses as you can!” I learned alot.
Next I came forward and explained that I am first and foremost a performing musician (not an academic ‘expert’) and got on line immediately and gave real world examples of uses of the internet for artists who have alot together but aren’t that well known yet….that is ME! One of the things that David underlined over and over again was that fact that having a static, non updated site is worse than having a site at all. Many of us musicians get a nice looking site but never update it. Why would anyone want to return to it if it’s the same except for some gig dates changing? I told the audience of WORDPRESS, a highly editable platform (that this site is based on!) that is free. Pens and notepads were flying! I took the audience on a tour of this site and explained the Rebel Tumbao project.
I then proceeded to talk about CROWDFUNDING using www.microfundo.com as an example. Most were pretty unfamiliar with the concept and once I explained it there was great interest. I took the audience through the Microfundo site and used a S. African artist Mavo Solomon (who is running a campaign on Microfundo) as a case study. (I believe no one in the audience had heard of him.) His is a great example of how having a reasonably professional presence on the web with a site, a Facebook, MySpace and Twitter presence made all the difference to the people at MicroFundo accepting him.
We had only a little time for Q&A but we could have gone for another hour as people were very very interested in everything that David and I talked about. This is the first time I’ve been in a position of explaining something I’m trying to figure out, that is, creating a viable performing and recording career for myself using the internet, and I felt very useful in this role and could see this as a possible side gig for myself: doing lecture demonstrations related to using cyberspace to launch and grow a career.
I bought a Flip HD Video cam before I left on this trip and have taken a few vids. Here’s our audience: I was demonstrating how easy it is to post video blogs!
The rest of the day I spent wandering around the conference, connecting with many, answering more questions, talking up Berklee etc. At the end of the day I was approached by two extremely motivated young producers who had heard about the conference last minute and decided to come and absorb as much as they could. I sat down with them answering many questions about Berklee and got on line showing them more about my site, showed them the Rebel Tumbao press kits I brought, showed them how to put one together. After that we went across the street to a cool outdoor indoor club that was presenting showcasing bands. (I got brief video of one band that I’ll put up later. The were great.)
I took a cab back to the Hotel and caught up with David Stopps for a few drinks at the Hotel bar and had a great conversation about our presentations, but then just sat back and listened to some incredible road stories he had about his experiences managing some huge rock bands in the 70’s. Then I went to the hotel lobby to check emails and who walks in but Mandla (conference coordinator and hell of a great guy) with bassist Bakithi Kumalo and Ray Phiri (they both recorded Paul Simon’s Graceland and Rhythm of the Saint’s albums and continue to tour internationally with Paul and many others) and Mirko Whitfield representing South by Soutwest festival in Austin. Somehow we got into a nearly 3 hour conversation plumbing the depths of the human condition, global warming, near death experiences, overpopulation, meaningful music vs just alot of notes, Aparthied struggles. It was quite a sharing. I was exhausted but inspired by the end. That can be the very nice thing about being on tour: because you’re away from your day to day and in a location with a focus on your art, you can really get into some great philosophical and artistic connections with the people around you. Yea!
That’s Uno de Waal, whom I met for breakfast and we walked together to Moshito site.
Whew……what a day! I woke up this morning at about 11:00 am because a group of us, with Mandla Makwela as the wheel, went out to a fantastic club, House of Nsako, and heard two bands, got home at about 3am….indeed the right thing to do. It was great to finally HEAR SOME MUSIC. I knew we were in good hands at this club because there was a picture of Bob (Marley) and Che Guevera on the wall behind the stage. We saw two bands, I believe their names were 1) Cheny Wa Gune (from Mozambique) and Etran Finatawa (Tuareg’s from Niger). I hope the video below captures some of the energy. These two band were AWESOME. Tight, with deep grooves, I mean deep down grooves. The second band, from Niger (the Tuareg, from the desert of Niger, dressed in traditional garb) play a music that is very very meditative and trance like. Only one chord, with the rhythm guitar playing a drone while the lead guitar dances around, answering the long choruses and melody lines. Every song was very long and you just had to let into it, let it get into you and before you knew it everyone was just swaying and gone to another place. David Stopps and myself, all dressed in white(!), enjoyed some local SA beer and, of course, the MUSIC.
Big highlight of the day was the VIP dinner that all the presenters at Moshito were invited to. It was at Gramadoelas Restaurant at the Market Theater and pretty much all the heavy hitters in the Johannesburg arts community were there to meet and greet us. Many provincial government dignitaries were there. I had the great pleasure and honor to meet Mr. Peter Tladi (festival producer, producer, and more who’s been involved in the SA music scene for ?? 30-40 years, now producing the Joy of Jazz fest), Mr. Sam Mhangwane (an equally accomplished festival producer, now producing the Moretela Park festival), Mr. Steven Sack (Director of City of Joburg Community Development, Arts, Culture and Heritage), Mr. Andre le Roux (General Mgr of SAMRO [SA’s ASCAP] and Chairman of Moshito. We had extensive conversation around connecting Berklee to SA….this could well be a fantastic partnership!). I had great conversations with Mr. David Marks (www.3rdearmusic.com), recording engineer and archivist who has taken it upon himself for some 30-40 years to record many of the not so famous musicians world wide and has absolutely amazing historical back log of material. I enjoyed hearing many stories of life and music in the Apartheid era including hearing about how any Bob Marley record that was to be played on the radio had to be pretty much smuggled into the country and carried in paper bags. Bob was completely banned by the Apartheid!). I also had great conversation with Tom Gravlie from Norway (www.Rikskonsertene.no). He has created an amazing program of music education in schools globally, especially in Palestine. Lastly I made connection with the colorful and tattoo’d Bill Botes, working the back end of Moshito and a great help to me. (www.flagmusic.co.za) The food at this restaurant was amazing. I had Ostrich stew amongst lots of other tasties!
My entire connection to Moshito came through a friendship I struck up with a Mr. Dennis Wright when I was in Ghana 3 years ago. Dennis loves my REBEL TUMBAO project and recommended me for Moshito not only to serve on panels and bring Berklee to SA but more importantly to network for touring opportunities for Rebel Tumbao, so no doubt, at this dinner I was able to give the RT press kits I brought with me to some of these festival producers. Some ground work has been laid for RT to tour in SA!
For the day at Moshito I served on two panels, 1) With writer David Chislett (www.davidchislett.co.za). We gave a step by step discussion of how to enter your music and band into the biz on solid footing. Again, I emphasized the utilization of the internet. I explained that it was very cheap and easy to get a domain name and a free Wordpress site which everyone was very excited to know. I also spoke of the importance of knowing why you are entering into this field. When the tough times come (of which there are MANY as a musician), it’s this deep personal understanding and commitment that will allow you to persevere and succeed.
Next I served on a Plenery panel with the outspoken travel writer, producer, manager, Phil Tripp from Austrailia (www.philtripp.com) and the world class producer and engineer Gordon Williams from NYC who’s worked with everyone: Lauryn Hill, Stephen and Damien Marley (Mixed welcome to Jam Rock) and a billion others. We had a nice connection about Rebel Tumbao and we’ll be making a link up back in the states. Gordon knows José’s brother Joe (Claussell). We talked about how SA artists can effectively enter into the US music markets. A lively Q&A followed.
After that session a young bassist named Bright Gain from Nigeria approached me and told me his story: he applied to Berkee in 2000 and was accepted. He got all of his ducks in order and was all ready to hop on the plane and then his visa was denied by the Nigerian government!! 9 years later, more than ever, he wants to come to Berklee. I promised that I’d help him in any way I could. It works very well in his favor that he was already accepted. I’ll be contacting Rich Appleman on his behalf. Check this video:
Also I had the distinct pleasure to meet Ms. Aura Msmang Berton who worked with Bob Marley, recorded at Scratch Perry’s Black Ark Studio in JA (before he burnt it down!), Jimmy Cliff. I wish I had more time to talk to her as she has a tremendously positive vibe. Hopefully today we can link. Yes my sistah!
The night ended with Mandla and myself rolling up to the hotel at 2:30am only to meet with Batkithi and 3 other friends/musicians hanging out on the street talking it up and playing Leo Blanco’s CD on Mandla’s car stereo! (yea, Batkithi played on it.)
MOSHITO!…….a success as reported by Mandla:
The event wrapped up at about 1pm on Saturday. I walked around the conference center and made last minute connections, confirmed plans that were talked about the night before. I got a bit of lunch and Mandla drove me to the Apartheid Museum (www.apartheidmuseum.org) and dropped me off. As you can imagine, it’s an intense place. I only had time to get through about half of it including the special section on Nelson Mandela. It was amazing to see video footage of him, underground, talking about the need for non violent resistance then to speak of violent resistance.
Amazing to read some of the official declarations made by those men: “The White man is the master in South Africa, and the white man, from the very nature of his origins, from the very nature of his birth, and from the very nature of his guardianship, will remain master in South Africa to the end.” WHERE THE HELL DID THESE GUYS COME UP WITH THAT!?
It was amazing to look at photographs of dead bodies killed during protests, amazing to walk into a solitary confinement cell (that many who were imprisoned had to endure), amazing to feel a hangmans noose used to execute many who resisted the Apartheid regime, amazing to follow the events that led to Mandela being released and the process of the complete reversal of Apartheid…..and all of that only a mere 20 years ago! I found out a bit later that the family that provided funding for the museum made millions during the Apartheid era selling skin whitening agents to Blacks….go figure.
Later I went to the 4 band concert at the awesome venue called Bassline. I saw the GREAT S.A. singer Thandiswa, wow, she can sing and perform. I had the pleasure of meeting her keyboard player (forgive me, I forgot his name). He was very impressed to meet someone from Berklee and expressed wanting to come as did Thandiswa. I’ll list the names of the other bands I saw, but also on the stage was the Tuareg band I saw the night before. I bought a beautiful piece of jewelery and a copy of their CD. My terrible French got me through the price negotiations. Only downside: Cigarette smoke in the clubs. Oy! One club had no smoking signs everywhere but that certainly didn’t make a difference. Here are a few vids from the night:
What is the name of this crazy instrument?
My last day, Sunday, took me to the Soweto township, a suburb of Johannesburg. Because of this trip to South Africa I started to study some of its history but didn’t get all that far. There’s nothing like going to a location and meeting the people to learn what really happened. First, my impression of Soweto (and this is probably the impression of many in the world) is that it is mostly a slum on the order of western Kingston JA or the Favela’s of Rio. This couldn’t be further from the truth, not back in 1976 and not now. In our brief time I saw a number of Mercedes SUV’s, a Lamborghini, and many other top notch cars driving around. This certainly is not to say that most live with such material wealth, not even close, but I would call most of the dwellings ‘second world.’ Most housing consists of one storey, perhaps 4 room buildings with running water, plumbing, electricity. There is a big mall and lots of signs of business activity, tourist activity everywhere (…..you can bungi jump between two abandoned water towers, or ride a balloon shaped like a soccer ball to get a birds eye view of the city.).
The reason why this township is so famous is because of a student protest that took place on June 16, 1976. Nelson Mandela was still in jail, but the anti Apartheid movement was in full swing. We visited the church where organizational meetings to plan resistance campaigns would take place under the guise of a church service in session. We visited Mandela’s home (before he went to jail of course). But most disturbingly we went to the Hector Pieterson Museum. On that day in 1976 children (we’re talking 14 years old and up!) from all of the major schools in the area organized a protest march against the Apartheid policy that all classes be taught in the Afrikaans language. (Of course it was more than just that. It was in protest against the entire racist regime.) The children gathered and formed rows of 5, holding hands. They planned to march through the town and meet at a local sports field where they would draw up a letter of refusal. (They never made it.) As has happened in so many other similar situations such as Martin Luther King’s marches in the USA, the police started firing their guns at the children. You may have seen the FAMOUS picture of a boy carrying the body of another boy with an indescribable expression of horror, anguish, anger in his face and a girl nearly air born next to him with the same expression.
The dead boy was Hector Pieterson, the first killing of that day and it was his sister who was next to him. The boy carrying Hector fled the country and was NEVER heard from again. The museum is full of video footage of that march and other marches, of giant photographs of the struggle, of actual protest signs saying things like, “Don’t shoot we just want you to let our friends out of jail,” or “To hell with the Afrikaans.” When you walk into this museum, the struggle against the Apartheid system becomes palpable. I cried, for real, CRIED.
Our guide for the day Mandla, (whom you should be familiar with by now if you’ve read the previous blog entries), was very helpful in answering my many questions about SA history and the anti-Apartheid struggle. He was born in the very early 1970’s and remembers that for three years after that school children uprising there was no school, he did not go to school. The opposing forces were firmly entrenched and no one was going to budge. The S. African blacks, Communists, Coloureds, Indians (for the most part) had way too much confidence in their cause at that point and the believers in Apartheid were driving around in cars with guns and picking off people at will. Wow. The situation was critical for about 3 years and school recommenced but again in the mid 1980’s even deeper protests occurred and school was halted again. Mandla, then a young man, remembers vividly his involvement in the protests. If you go to South Africa, go to this museum.
Throughout this entire experience some very inspiring conversations took place. Here is a summary of these many comments, feelings, analyses, perspectives:
- “The US really has no culture other than money.” (from a colleague from Europe)
- I met a South African woman at a bar who had lived in NYC for a few years and couldn’t believe how hung up American women were with whether or not their breasts were too big or too small or their hips too wide and all manner of neurosis about outward appearance.
- In discussion about the post Apartheid era one knowledgeable S. African said that there was surprisingly little impetus for vengeance toward the white oppressors. The reason why, he said, was, “because we are a singing culture.”
- “Something like 11% of Americans have passports. If more Americans traveled and interacted with other cultures, no doubt they would be much less fearful of allowing the government to provide some social services. They would not think that providing universal health care creates a threat to Capitalism, which most Americans equate with freedom.”
- The secret to living a good life? BE HERE NOW! Don’t get so damn caught up in what was and what could be. Know your inner strengths and inner weaknesses well. Sometimes they are one and the same.
- On a couple of occasions I heard local musicians say that under the Apartheid regime there was so much more feeling of community because of the need to ban together to strengthen the struggle for freedom. There was more meaningful music and openness, respect. Now that the Apartheid regime is ended much of that sense of community has vanished while disconnectedness and individualism has taken over.
This last point causes me GREAT difficulty and ignites in me great efforts to understand and express. I am working on an essay, maybe the seeds of a kind of artists “manifesto” that I’ll be posting at a later date.
LASTLY, I’d like to give great big thanks to Mr. Mandla Makwela. He was a MOST GRACIOUS host on all accounts, always available with helpful answers, guidance, a ride and a smile. Thanks also to the entire Moshito staff for putting on such a great event. I felt that the information presented by all of the invited lecturers/panelists was powerful and most definitely achieved the overall goal of Moshito; to help South African musicians, producers, arts organizations become leaders in the global music market. I had a great time and look forward to the possibility of returning next year!
By the way, if you ever go to South Africa you’ll need this kind of electrical adapter. All the one’s I found here before I left that said “good for South Africa” were missing the part that had the three ROUND plugs, one of which is dead (plastic). You’ll need one that goes from the US plug into the two rounded female plugs that intern has the 3 plug male.