Q&A: What is Moshito music conference?

Deputy chairperson of the Moshito board, Mandla Maseko, sheds light on the aims of this board ahead of the 12th annual Moshito Music Exhibition and Expo. He speaks to the Mail & Guardian about where Moshito is currently standing strategically and where they plan to be by the end of their term.

Many people are confused as to what Moshito is and the public only gets to hear about this platform only in September. Can you shed light on what Moshito is and what it does?
Moshito’s mission is to build a music and exhibition show that is resolent in Africa and other music markets. Our perspective is a continental issue focusing on business ideologies for the music markets, in creating and growing the creative economy.

For the past 11 years, including this year, the conference always takes place in Jo’burg. Do you have any immediate plans to take Moshito to all the other eight provinces in the country?
This current board headed by Sipho Sithole aims to put in place mini-Moshitos if I may call it that. Like regional Moshito conferences prior to the actual main exhibition and expo, to share the knowledge with other people in the music industry supply chain – from artists, producers, songwriters, to distributors and retailers, and as a way of ensuring that we cover as many areas as possible, because not everyone can afford to come up to Jo’burg for the annual Moshito conference.

How do you plan on achieving the goal of having these regional Moshito conferences and which are some of the first provinces that you will be visiting soon?
We plan to start with Limpopo and Northern Cape. We will take music industry experts and also invite locals to sit on panels to ensure that locals get to be represented and get to share music knowledge, music industry business strategies and other issues affecting everyone involved in the music industry supply chain. For those few who will be invited and those who can afford to join our three-day major conference in Jo’burg, it will be great because that’s when we will descend upon the city of gold to have showcases, panel discussions and knowledge transfer.

For 11 years, Moshito relied on public funding and it’s only last year that the national department of arts and culture provided Moshito with a R15-million three-year grant. How does this cash injection ensure that Moshito is able to function at its best?
Government is an enabling agent to ensure that we reach our goals. Grants and funding are helpful but they also create a sense of dependency for the recipients and it’s good to always have an exit strategy. As a member of this current board, we have decided to add an exciting element to Moshito by hosting a music festival on the last day of the conference. This way, we will be able to raise money that we can keep in our books and that will ensure that should any financial difficulty arise, we have a savings back-up plan. 

This year’s conference is themed Kwela To Hop, what inspired this theme?
We are celebrating all the genres from the 1960s sound of kwela to today’s new age sound of hip hop. We are celebrating our South African music timeline with the payoff line, “where music meets business and where business meets opportunities”. The conference will unpack and look at issues such as current challenges in the music industry, the current music trends including downloads, free music, among other issues.

For someone who’s sitting at home and doesn’t know if Moshito affects them, who is Moshito targeted at?
As I’ve said, Moshito is targeted at everyone who is in the music industry supply chain from creators [artists], production, marketing and promotion, distribution and consumption. Everyone is welcome to learn more about their trade and music must not always be reduced to performance which means only artists are thought of when music is mentioned.

What legacy does this current board want to leave behind since 2016 is your last year of serving on the Moshito board?
We want to be remembered for securing long-term funding [three years to be precise during our term from 2014 to 2016]. We also want to be remembered for introducing the Moshito music festival concept to create our own funds to support Moshito. We are currently in the process of launching a coffee table book with the best 200 produced music in the country as part of our music legacy. Our major achievement has been dedicating time to identify strategic partners to form long-term relationships to enable us to fulfil our mandate.

The 12th annual Moshito Music Exhibition and Expo takes place on September 10 to September 12 at SABC Radio Park in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Three-day conference tickets and single day tickets are available at Computicket and Moshito.


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