Applying business skills in a musical career
It seems like every time there a big concert in Botswana, there is bound to be an uproar over the better treatment and pay of foreign acts over their compatriots and in extreme cases foreign artists performing very late or not turning up at all. Recently during the Go Green festival at Lion Park South African Dj Heavy K failed to appear on stage, leaving social networks abuzz with angry fans who felt robbed as they felt the show did not live up to the artists line-up.
While some Batswana complain of the ratio of South African acts to locals in major festivals, others sternly expressed that they will not under any circumstances pay for an all local line up. One Motswana reveller tweeted that she is, “Actually tired of hearing Bots artists complain. TIRED! Every weekend we hear the same complaints. Why? Coz we still doing the SAME things! SA artists this, Bots promoters that. Enough. Bots artists first need to start taking themselves & their work seriously.”
So the question is how much do basic business principles play a role in the local music industry. According to veteran Dj and former talent judge on My Star Sidney Baitsile, “Botswana artists need to learn as much as they can about the music industry. They have to learn what it is to be an artist and a performer as well as to have to master the art. A lot of our artists just have raw talent that they have not given themselves time to refine into professional outfits.”
He explained that although there are a lot of ‘wannabe’ musicians whom he refers to as ‘fongkongs’, the ones with raw talent should be schooled. “Once there is determination for their talent to be harnessed professionally, they should learn about management and the business. Without proper management and business acumen, they will not make it. Only then, should they go into the studio and record. Practicing these principles will enhance their chances of success in the industry,” he advised.
As for whether locals artist deliver poor performances compared to their foreign counterparts, Sid says that if it is in fact the case, the reason could be them just being bad artists or not preparing well, just like artists from other countries often do when they come to Botswana, adding that, “But yes, good business and industry skills will always make an artist aware of what his audience wants and hence perform well like Vee.”
One artist, who seems to have mastered a music career locally, is superstar Vee, who is loved across the country and even across borders. In an interview with Time Out Vee reiterated the importance of business mindfulness in the music industry. He revealed that for him applying business principles to his craft has got him where he is right now in his career. “I studied Commerce and Fundamental Studies in high school and the knowledge that I acquired from that is what I’ve used to further my career.”
He explained that he always knew he wanted to be a business man and also make music, highlighting that a music career is 40 % talent and 60% business. “Music is not a charity organisation and we can’t just cry without taking action,” he added.
Success has no definite business formula. Asking Vee what business principles he thinks every artist must have to make it, he said that character was the first on his list because that is what makes or breaks the man in the long run. “The way you treat people and yourself as well determines how far you will go. That is what character brings to the table. Secondly, one should be professional, be on time for meetings and on stage.”
Lastly he praised hard work, explaining that there are a lot of things one could venture into including opportunities that the career presents to one which he said was up to the individual to actively seek and take advantage of them.