The KZN Music Imbizo, one of South Africa’s most recognisable music conferences, continues to increase its focus on the African music sector.
Taking place for three days in Durban from 25 to 27 August, the event will bring together music players from different parts of the continent to explore new business opportunities, share ideas and network.
Now in its 8th year, the Imbizo will be held at the Moses Mabhida Stadium for the first time. It will feature a robust programme of panel discussions, showcases, exhibitions, networking sessions and a number of activities tailored for up-and-coming musicians.
While South Africa (particularly Durban) remains a key focus on the Imbizo’s agenda, the event will this year offer a diverse line-up of speakers from other African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Swaziland. International speakers from the United Kingdom, Norway and Denmark will also participate.
African identity is the major theme for this year’s conference. “We were inspired by the poem, Africa My Beginning And Africa My Ending,” says Sphe Mbhele, project manager of the Imbizo.
“We need to be inclusive to grow our own market in the continent. We need to stop thinking 50 million people but 1 billion people, to start touring the continent and initiating more collaborations.”
Some of the big African players confirmed for the event include Chocolate City (Nigeria), Lynx Entertainment (Ghana), Bushfire (Swaziland), Azgo Festival (Mozambique), the Namibian Society Of Composers and Authors Of Music (NASCAM) and Botswana’s Companies And Intellectual Property Authority (CIPA).
South Africa will be represented by a host of big names, including the likes of Mabala Noise, Cash Time Records, Deezer, Sheer Publishing, Ambitious Records, the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO), the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association (CAPASSO), Channel O, MTV, Mzansi Magic and many other influential players.
Exhibitors will include music publishers, booking agencies, collecting societies, music schools, digital agencies and radio stations.
Highlights on the first day will include a panel discussion on “Protecting Intellectual Property In Africa” featuring representatives from SAMRO, CAPASSO, IMPRA, NASCAM and CIPA.
Friday’s highlights will include a one-on-one interview with legendary maskandi artist, Phuzekhemisi and a keynote address on marketing by Lebo Gunguluza - one of South Africa's most successful young entrepreneurs.
On Saturday, award-wining artist Sibongile Khumalo will talk to artists about the importance of identity.
"People think you can just take a piece of western writing and do a direct translation of it in a vernacular language," explains Mbhele. "Mam’Sibongile redefines music and you can relate to her. She interprets music in her own manner that is why artists must look forward to this session."
These highlights are in addition to genre-specific roundtable discussions and Africa sessions that will zoom in on the music industries of Ghana and Nigeria.
Unlike in previous years, the KZN Music Imbizo will host complementary events outside the main venue, notably a tribute to multi-instrumentalist Ndikho Xaba at the UKZN Centre of Jazz on 23 August. The event will feature performances by prolific South African artists Nomusa Xaba and Sazi Dlamini.
There will be a daily artist showcase during the conference where an up-and-coming act will win R10 000 and other prizes.
Mbhele says as the Imbizo will continue to grow its offering in coming years.
“The idea is to turn Durban into a global music city that can attract hundreds and thousands of people every August. Whether you’re an artist or fan, there should be something for you to do,” he adds.