The Business of Music in Cape Town

The applause roared from the closed doors of The Fugard Theater on Friday morning as Mike Stern and Dave Weckl wrapped up their clinic as part of the Training and Development program at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.  Participants streamed out in the theater lobby for a brief recess, but just as quickly returned when the announcement for the music business lecture was announced.

Throughout the week, we have spoken with everyone from music promoters, ministry of arts and culture and education officials to interns assisting with the festival to musicians traveling from as far away as Kenya, Mozambique and Nigeria.  There is a general recognition of the high level of musical talent in Cape Town, South Africa and Africa as a whole.  There is also a desire for careers in music to be seen a viable pathways for these musicians.  It is with this understanding that director of training and development Craig Parks choose to have a focus on the business of music.  And this is why we asked founder and chair of music business and management Don Gorder to make the trip to Cape Town with us this year.

Business Clinic 2012 CTIJF

Don Gorder sets the historical stage during his music business lecture in Cape Town.



Don set the stage by giving the nearly packed hall some perspective on the recent evolution in the world of music and media.  He quickly changed gears to bring the audience into the present (far from defined and settled) music industry environment.  Attendees likely knew pieces of the history he shared and the scene he set.  But, he began to pull back the layers and dig into the new tools and methodologies being employed by artists and provide the guests with context.  It became very clear that it not so much a matter of what you have, but how you use it.

Don’s presentation morphed into a Q&A session and pseudo group discussion with attendees exchanging ideas.  With a better understanding of the changes in how artists create and share music and how the audience access new music, the attendees wanted something more.  While it is fine to discuss the what is happening now in the industry, it is coming from the primarily western and US focus.  It was apparent that it will take some more time before the revolution we are experiencing in the US and other parts of the world will play a bigger role with the younger generation of musicians in here.  In the end, the session provided a good glimpse at the potential and likely strengthened some of the musicians’ resolve to hang tough and find a way forward.

With the few moments I have left here at the hotel, I want to send out a huge thanks to Don, Jim and Gojko for once again doing a fine job representing the college.  Also, I must send huge thanks to our hosts Rashid Lombard, Billy Domingo, Craig Parks and their exceptional staff at the festival.  Brilliant work!

2012 Cape Town Internation Jazz Festival

(L to R) Jim, Craig and Don at the Cape Town International Conference Center for the festival.

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