90% local music on radio gives upcoming musicians hope


17 May 2016

Local producer Jemaine Roberts said the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) decision of playing 90% local content will give musicians an opportunity to make a living creating music. With 18 SABC stations required to follow the proclamation, Roberts hoped that overlooked musicians will be getting the airplay they deserve and that their creativity warrants.

Roberts Jemaine Roberts

It gives hope

Roberts, producer at Hyper Nova Productions in Johannesburg, explained artists were demotivated because radio stations would not easily accept their work. “Now radio is forced to play mostly local music, so that gives artists new hope and they feel like they can make a living by doing what they love.”

Roberts, who has been a music producer for 12 years, said it was tough to earn money as a musician because radio stations preferred playing international artists or established locals. This meant that South Africa did not develop a live music culture that would expand the market for new musicians.

“As South Africa we are still growing the music industry – much slower than the rest of the world – but we are getting there. In the [United] States or the United Kingdom, it’s easier to make a living from live gigs and internet content.”

He said that 90% local music on radio is an amazing initiative. “It will definitely benefit me as a producer directly because now artists have something to work towards and I can facilitate that process. Now artists can finally earn money this way via Southern African Music Rights Organisation.”

Roberts has worked with artists such as Joyous Celebration, Revamp Nation, Brenton Goldman and CJay.


The announcement was made by SABC’s chief operations officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng on Wednesday and the following day – Thursday 12 May 2016 – SABC radio stations implemented the 90% local music decree.

Those radio stations cater to a variety of genres, but have a special focus on Kwaito, Jazz, Reggae and Gospel.

Veteran musician Don Laka said in an interview with the SABC that they are also planning road shows to promote local music.

Watch Laka and SABC Head: Group Communications, Kaizer Kganyago talk about the initiative:

Copyright control

Paulson Billy Paulson

Billy Paulson, musician and founder of the Northern Arts Festival in Port Elizabeth said he has been thinking about running his own radio station, just so that he could play only Proudly South African music.

Paulson cautioned the pros and cons were not carefully considered. “The two things the industry must now teach artists is the importance of quality, and secondly we need more copyright control.’

The announcement is good, he said, but it is just the beginning of educating local musicians. “[It is] no use you are played 10 times and your royalty statement does not reflect accordingly.”

Paulson grew up in the industry. “I wrote my first song in 1974. In 1984 I had my first hit called Step by Step. I earned a mere R47 in royalties.”

He said he had released More Sal Die Son Weer Skyn in 1994. “To date it is performed on albums that I am not even aware of. I do not earn royalties off these guys. Nobody teaches artists that you cannot just record another man’s tune and not pay,” he said.

Naude Churchil Naude

Churchil Naude, a Mitchells Plain born rapper said that currently radio stations like KSFM in Parys, in the Free State plays his music. “Here in Cape Town it seems that there is a buddy system. Some local radio stations that target the Coloured market, don’t even play music done by Coloured musicians.”

He said that he hopes that the 90% local music on SABC radio stations does not only play a limited amount of artists.

The feedback

Radio listeners shared their opinion on Twitter:

Television content

According to a press statement, from 1 July 2016, the SABC will increase its local content offering on television. “Recently the SABC encouraged independent and emerging producers through a successful engagement, to approach the corporation with fresh proposals and content,” reads the statement.

“The SABC looks forward to receiving contributions from all over the country. To support this initiative commissioning editors will be appointed in all the provinces at the various SABC offices.”

Local music fillers will also be used between programmes.