A Vision I’ll Never Regret!
In 2000 I started a music publication and media Communications Company in Soweto- called Samablue Music Times. One section of the business was a music newspaper and other section was an association with local musicians and artists. My vision was to organize a team of guys and girls to structure our local music industry in a proactive way that would make it easy for artists and musicians to find hit songs and lyrics that would launch their career into overseas markets.
This was to help prepare these artists become exportable commodity products with high quality music price tags the world especially the USA, UK and Europe can afford to pay to cherish and appreciate long after they have retired as musicians. e.g. Hugh Masekela, Lion King to say the least.
The big picture was to export S.A. talent so that musicians can break boundaries of conformity, eradicate poverty and limitations after our country has been liberated and democratized in 1994.
Whereas, complacency and lack of originality and creative thinking has always stifled the potential of local South African music and musicians to export this rare asset as a unique service like any other products to profit wisely from. The intent was to create an environment that would groom and market ourselves instead of perpetuate complains about the unprecedented piracy of our music by Chinese and Nigerian syndicates to the African continent.
The Alternative Solution To Financial Liberation
My idea was to provide a sustainable long-term solution to the poverty-stricken artists who suffer poor legal music protection and marketability or exposure and are caught in the dilemma of trying to keep their heads afloat.
The proposition was to find a platform of artistic musical expression to alleviate strife and to encourage musicians to pursue business-like greener pastures beyond the borders of our South Africa’s limited entertainment opportunities that fail to recognize outstanding ability and artistic prowess of this career so as to create wealth and financial security.
Well! The project did not last very long to reach its fruition. This was because some of my associates and colleagues wanted a quick fix and the instant gratification, the glamour and glory that go with being a music celebrity.
Beyond this plan; I made a mistake of not involving our local radio DJ’s and to appoint a qualified and experienced PR or an influential spokes-person to sell our vision. Aside from this oversight our local radio stations in South Africa are government owned and politically patronized by party affiliation and listener ship.
Another downside to this business project plan is that I was not street-smart and matured enough to understand the dynamic power of political affiliation and power struggles in the music industry at that time. Local television exposure and politics, radio airplay and bribery and contracts manipulation was prevalent and rife more than I thought I knew or could ever imagine. I was ignorant of this side of the business.
Poor Music Marketing Skills
As fate would have it, I was Project Director, Financier and Print Publication Editor and Distributor of “Samablue Music Times” communications.
The other element of Samablue was a wing which was intended to create music by involving artists to collaborate and write music for other musicians for a fee i.e. “musician/author-for-hire” contracts.
As an investor of this idea and had carried the initial entrepreneurial risk, my colleagues on the other hand had a different agenda and were despondent towards investing both money and time to make an impact to our goals’ sustainability prospects.
There was poor moral support and commitment or spiritual comprehension of the vision towards the bigger potential realization of the long-term benefits of the business model.
I did not possess the magic wand to alter circumstances around these challenges in order to grow the publication and build a repertoire of music producers and music creators, for this section B of the business. First and foremost I realized that to make good solid quality credible international music, one must be 100% committed to it without reservations.
Putting together a team of pioneering creative talented composers is a mission. But being a newspaper publisher and owner it’s a nightmare, doing all of the above is suicidal.
I asked for it and I got it all disaster was eminent and bound to happen. Everything hung on my shoulders my employees past the buck and under-perform and the risk became inevitable.
Trouble Was Brewing
I was deep in the rabbit’s hole and had to push on and not look back. Defeat was not an option. So! I had already laid the foundation to invite and form a team of music collaborators i.e. musicians of caliber and poets whose jobs were to create music and build a database of music scores for professional artists to record and jump-start their careers.
This was the plan I thought yet it failed to materialize. After all the entire budget for their payroll was gradually depleting since progress was very slow and forthcoming. The dream was fading under my nose as if I had no power to do anything to turn it around.
It was slipping under my fingers. I could barely save it, it was dying right in my hands and I have never been so scared in my life, it was the most traumatic experience words cannot explain.
I Was Ahead Of Time Yet Behind The Planned Schedule
My thoughts were well ahead of our time and efforts so, I imagined. My inner personal dream was to recreate the Motown legacy of creating music from my South African perspective. This is how simple and fundamental the concept was, although in between quality assurance, standards and assessment were in place to ensure the final products complied with the international consumer validation, standards and appeal.
It was therefore measured against international standards emulating the likes of, Quincy Jones, Smoky Robinson, Burt Bacharach and Lamont Dozier to name just a few. The idea was to create a “music-lab-songwriters-warehouse” for all aspiring local stars and the emerging talent to utilize as a resource to launch their career in music and be exported overseas like the “Lion-King” legendary brand.
Also! The ideal intention was to raise the stakes of our consciousness as musicians and poets to create an opportunity for ourselves by participating and entering into international music competitions. To gain recognition and acceptance as we improve and sharpen our skills.
The best way to measure your competency is to up your stakes to measure up to overseas standards to inspire confidence and improve the odds. As you enable yourself challenge your limits, thus enter into collaboration with various overseas publishing companies and artists to explore and exploit your talent in becoming a star.
Talent Without Vision Is Like Pride Before A Downfall
I tried to sign up my first band and called them “Blue J. Band” I was also the leader their stunt lived for a short while after which I formed “Ghost 5” to replace Blue J. Band. The band was in limbo and never took off. Then I tried forming “Truth Decay” to launch as another replacement of the two bands I initially started.
This was done in dire straits to try and get things going. In vain it seemed everything was spiraling down to disaster and was unstoppable. Things turned out very bad, such that personality issues emerged amongst band members and egos took center stage and few if any assignments were ever completed if not left undone or even accounted for.
Challenges were mounting day and day out bad worse and none of these artists wanted to apply their minds and souls into productive and worthwhile hard work towards a realization of our long-term goals and plan. What I failed to pick up early in my employment procedures was identifying a strong work-ethic from each employee before I took them on.
They came and left as if we were running a “brothel” and these “guys” were only hungry for quick-cash-fame and media publicity without a product to show-off to their audiences.
In Came MIDI Out Jumped My Music Crew
It soon dawned on me that the new MIDI-Music computer generated technology was going to take over the job of musicians and bands, because a music producer were able to lay tracks and sample compositions using popular recording software’s and within a day or weeks a song and an album is recorded and completed; “just like that”.
MIDI replaced the traditional work of a musician and placed a lot of power, creativity and freedom in the hands of aspiring producers and DJ’s. My work and efforts were threatened and this was not good for my business or vision of my South African version of Motown. My dreams were slowly collapsing and dying on me. I saw the demise of my “imaginary” empire crumble down into the ground very slow but in fast motion.
So! My potential candidates and the crew on my project jumped ship to land on this new found technology because they had finally found a quick fix solution to their get rich and famous quick scheme. (Kwaito music was born). This was the quickest way to spin music fast and to put it out to the public sooner than anyone can blink.
This Kwaito music was a bad-good-boy and a new kid on the block. So this was a birth of South Africa’s New popular bubble-gum African township music in its inception and every Dick-Tom-Harry joined the bandwagon to cash in on it.
No one took cognisant what quality of music was being served to the consumer. Music and its arrangements, lyrics, and these vocalists would care less about quality or standards, but lyrics and melodies left a lot to be desired. The industry suddenly caught fire of the “Local is Lekker” fever waves.
By the end June 2001, I saw the demise of one side of my vision collapse, I held on to the other half, which was to see the end-result of exporting my composition and personal creation of music to overseas markets and striving for quality and integrity in my production and creations.
So I had to change my plans went back to the drawing board and began to invest in the future of MIDI the same technology to save my ass and rescue myself from drowning without a reason to justify my downfall.
My Solitary Journey To Self Discovery Began and Samablue Was Born
One of the songs that I recorded during this trying ordeal is called – delusions of grandeur. I fell down to roll with the punches but did not lose my life. It was a tough battle. I stood up from the ground to face the music and to start all over again. I did my best and I was happy with the lesson I learned– it was a profound and the most illuminating experience to fathom.
I wanted to prove to the world that South Africa has the potential and the talent we can also create good original material that is authentic and life changing; value added services for the world to enjoy. I guess I was wrong but it is a vision I will never regret or abandon.
All I wanted was an opportunity and a chance to work with individuals who can impact the world in a positive way. I failed badly to sell the vision and only have myself to blame, but the war is not over yet. I am back in the groove this time as a knight in shining armour ready to tackle the bull by its horns.
That’s why my dream has been resurrected and I am continuing on my own without those who failed to see my point of view until this mission is accomplished successfully. My efforts as a pioneer were not to give up on this dream, because to do so is to insult the Creator of the Universe and the powerful guiding force of life that lives inside of me. My dream is to one day see one of my songs or song-poems featured in the USA and UK reaches the Top 5 Billboard Song Charts of the Month for as long as they can hold-on.
The journey and the battles I undertook since 1985 should never be left unsung or become an untold story of the resilient human spirit inherent in every human-being. That! it should shed light and bring hope in the battle against adversity to prove the spirit will always emerge victorious against any human trials and tribulations.
It is against this background that when I pen down any lyrics or words to try share with the world in a song. I reflect on God’s merciful hand to reach deep into my soul become a vehicle of expression that will heal and touch the world, where love is the cure and laughter the doorway to our happiness.
The Dream Has Been Realized After 17 Years – Of trials and tribulation – Below is the proof