The Portfolio: Matsuli Music

Matsuli Music is an independent record label run by Matt Temple in London and Chris Albertyn in Durban. Given our own histories and tastes, we are passionate about finding and re-issuing great historical South African musical moments on vinyl. 

Digging into South Africa’s cultural history inevitably stirs up the ghosts of exploitation – so much so that some artists have flatly refused to agree to their music being re-released. Sometimes great recordings are strangled and lost in the history of sour relations between artists and those who own the recordings. At other times, the original master recordings have been lost to fire, or just bad archiving.

Before Matsuli can start the complex but ultimately satisfying process of producing a vinyl re-issue we have to find those who “own” the recording and negotiate the licensing and master royalty fees payable. We also have to find the people who recorded the music (or their families) and seek their approval and blessing for the project. In addition to paying master recording license fees, ‘mechanical’ royalties must be paid, which (in theory) are then distributed by music rights organisations to the composers or their heirs.

Lets just say that we have to work within an imperfectly constructed and fluid system whose default is to maintain the privilege and power that has been historically accumulated. When and where we can, we try and do extra to ensure a better deal for the artists.

Matsuli can afford to re-issue on vinyl because of the ongoing international interest in great South African music. Though the number of vinyl  buyers in South Africa is soon going to pass CD buyers, the market is still relatively small, and is not big enough on its own to cover the costs of pressing and printing. International sales are essential if a re-issue is going to break even.

Another vinyl challenge facing Africans is that there are no longer any record pressing plants on the continent. Our transcontinental Matsuli partnership and approach makes it easier to coordinate licensing, re-mastering, production and distribution of quality vinyl, supplemented by carefully researched liner notes and historical photos.

To date, Matsuli Music has resurrected sixteen important recordings for a new and growing audience of vinyl collectors. Our next three releases will (if this crazy world permits) be available by June this year – with another three or four surprises before year end.

For more info on Matsuli Music visit our bandcamp website, or our Facebook page.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertisting

‘Frustrated’ police resort to force

Regulation uncertainty leaves slap-happy police and soldiers to decide when people should or shouldn’t be allowed on the streets

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders