David Alexander is Managing Director at Sheer Publishing in South Africa. He recently spoke at the World Creators Summit 2013’s session ‘Navigating through licensing hubs’ (on Wednesday, June 5th 2013).
1 – How’s the music market in South Africa at the moment?
The market in South Africa is in transition — physical sales in South Africa continue their decline (7.5% in 2012) and digital is not adding much back (10% of sales in 2012). With the launch of iTunes in November 2012 and streaming services such as simfy and Deezer we expect digital to grow quite quickly. These international services were not available in Africa until very recently. Lack of broadband access has been the major reason for this. Most people with high speed access have it at work and not home – where they are limited as to what content they can access and downloading large music files is a no-no. In Africa the majority of connections to the internet are via mobile phones and 3G is not a stable platform for large file transfers. The mobile phone operators sell ringback tones at low prices but huge volumes. Unfortunately very little of the revenue is paid over to the content owners. The potential in Africa is incredible.
2 – How is the music licensing market shaping up in Africa?
Music licensing is a growing business on the Continent. The media business is huge and countries like Nigeria and Kenya have very sophisticated broadcast industries. Advertising agencies are becoming more compliant with copyright and are looking to license African and international music tracks to accompany their commercials. Many companies are looking at media activation footprints outside of one single territory. We are experiencing a growth in sales into East Africa mainly though companies based in Kenya, and the same in West Africa through companies in Nigeria or Ghana.
3 – What are, according to you, the necessary conditions for the creative industries in Africa to thrive in the near future?
Africa still exports very little music, and when we do most of it is in the form of live shows and not recorded product. There are no government departments or agencies with a comprehensive creative industries or music industry strategy – anyone involved in the export market is on their own. The creative industries still bring too little money to get the attention of the big government budgets. We live in a resource rich continent – but often the only resources that are traded internationally come from under the ground.