Why Isn’t Local Music Celebrated More?
The article discussed a local ad campaign in South Africa called “Shout SA”. It was focused on speaking out against violence and improving the perception of the South African society and culture.
Many local South African musicians were advocates of the campaign, but in the videos created for publicizing the campaign, music from international artists was used. The author asked why local music wasn’t instead used in the ads. If the purpose of the ad campaign was to celebrate the local culture, why not celebrate local artists and their music and thereby strengthen the sense of unity among the local viewers? The local viewers might more easily be able to identify with the ads if well known local musicians were highlighted.
By “local”, the author meant South African (national) rather than international. For perspective for those in the US, South Africa is about twice the size of Texas. Here in the US, we generally consider an artist as “local” if they’re within an hour or so driving distance. For those smaller locales the problem of local artists not being supported is even more exaggerated.
One problem is that of perception, and therefore branding, as Dallas Moore noted. There are several pieces to consider:
1) Most people (anywhere) simply don’t know that there are a TON of local musicians in their area. For instance, I’m based in Des Moines, Iowa – a small city in the Midwest. Within 50 miles of me there are over 1000 artists producing original music. That statistic has surprised nearly everyone I’ve told it to.
2) People don’t realize that local artists are often as good or better than the ones marketed by the mass media. People tend to think you have to go elsewhere to find the gems.
(Think of how often you go to museums in other cities you visit, but rarely go to museums in your own city.)
3) The people running the ad campaign mentioned above might themselves have fallen into the traps of points 1 or 2. They might not have realized how much great local great musical talent was available. Or, as I suspect was more likely the case, …
4) The people running the ad campaign believed that most of their viewers fell into categories 1 or 2 and they thought that if they used local musicians that their ad campaign might be viewed as low quality. So out of uncertainty and fear, they took the conservative approach and fell back to the status quo and used a “well known” artist instead.
The problem is that if everyone does that, it perpetuates the myth that the “well known” national or international artists are better than local artists in your area. If you’re a fan of local music you know this isn’t true (but you’re in the minority).
It’s a catch-22, chicken-and-egg situation…
In order for lesser known artists to get more exposure, people need to know how good they are and want to give them that exposure. But in order to know how good they are, they need to get some exposure.
The only obvious solution to me is for more people and services (like Locusic) to “take a chance” and do more to promote local music. Go see local bands. Buy and listen to local music. You’ll feel a better sense of belonging to your local community. You’ll be supporting the local economy. You’ll feel pride in supporting local artists. Plus, seeing a local act is generally cheaper than going to a nationally touring show.
It takes time to change mindsets, but if more and more people keep pushing in the same direction on this, we can definitely make change happen.
In: Business, Local Music · Tagged with: branding, Dallas Moore, local music, Shout SA, South Africa, Zonke