The 2023 edition of Africa Rising Music Conference
(ARMC) was a success, with hundreds of artists, fans and industry professionals converging at the Hallmark House Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 23 and 24 May.
The conference received high praise from delegates who said the women-led event was a much-needed platform that would help bridge the gap between Africa and the rest of the world.
This year, the convention shone a spotlight on Zambia and Germany, and featured local influential industry players including Music In Africa Foundation
(MIAF), the South African Music Performance Rights Association
(SAMPRA), Basadi In Music Awards
and Trace South Africa. Also featured at the conference was a delegation of Germany-based music professionals comprising Re.Decay music producer and label owner Owen Ross, GROOVE magazine representative Alexis Waltz, WOMEX
/Piranha Arts head of communications Gaurav Narula
, creative Maureen ‘Mo’ Mutheu, WISE founder Philipp Geffer, Stil vor Talent co-founder and CEO Slawjana Ulrich, seed investor and entrepreneur representative Peer-Uli May, MA Music Academy Berlin managing director Karin Mueller, and AFEM events and communications manager Thilini Jayawickrama.
Plenary sessions and workshops
Over the two days, the delegates – some of whom travelled from Spain, UK and Botswana – shared ideas on different perspectives on how to improve the music industry. Plenary sessions were held to spur conversations on the urgent issues facing the industry, and new avenues for opportunities were examined. A panel on The Power of Music Conferences in Driving Regional Music Industries featured Music In Africa Foundation projects officer Claire Metais
who used the annual ACCES
conference to highlight the important role played by such gatherings. “We had an interesting chat about the development of more similar platforms across the continent,” Metais said. “As Music In Africa we were honoured to participate in Africa Rising Music Conference because of the benefits it brings to the music industry.”
Another insightful discussion on the evolving role of a manager in today’s fast-paced and constantly changing music business landscape was covered under the topic Artist-Manager Collaboration: Key to Music Industry Success. International Music Managers Forum director of innovation and education Jake Beaumont-Nesbitt, who was on the panel, said: “Speaking with young managers from Zambia and South Africa, we learned how they are building brands for their artists and reinventing the business model to drive exciting new revenue streams.”
Other notable speakers at the conference included Shiba Melissa Mazaza
(Mount Makeda/SA), Choolwe Chibomba (TIMEDIA/Zambia), Ralph Boege (Paradise Worldwide/SA), Mangaliso Mthembu (Ncube Incorporated Attorneys/SA), Sebastian Spring (MINT/Germany), Namakau Star
(Paradise Worldwide/SA), Tamara Dey
(artist/SA), Bwalia Nkumbula (Zed Arts Records Ltd/Zambia) and Pfanani Lishivha
(SAMPRA/SA), among other influential industry names.
A series of Pioneer DJ workshops also took place, where participants learned how to deejay on the spot by experts. Additionally, aspiring DJs were taught how to improve their revenue opportunities during the two-day workshop, which was held in partnership with Bridges for Music
Through the showcases, South African and Zambian artists managed to establish relationships with an eye towards collaborations and international deals.
Among the acts that performed were Bholoja
(Swaziland), Aka Kelzz (Germany), Venior (Finland), The Planetoids (Germany), Namakau Star
(SA), Natasha Chansa
(Zambia) and Yolophonik (SA). Others are South African amapiano artist Boohle
, who was joined by local electronic acts Deep Aztec, Chronicle Deep, Black Villain, Rose Bonica and DJ Kmat, as well as El Mukuka
(Zambia), ALBI X (Germany) and Megatronic (UK/UAE).
Megatronic said: “ARMC was an incredible and very beautiful experience. I am feeling very privileged and lucky to witness this level of original talent.” Founded in 2018 by female creatives SJ Nicholson
, Sharon Ramoshaba, DJ La Vita, Jules Spielmann and Namakau Star
, this year’s edition continued its mission of empowering and creating bridges between creative artists and music executives so they can successfully move into the international space, while offering valuable insights and connections to international stakeholders who are interested in working and understanding the African market.
“We had a delegation of over 20 international executives and artists from Europe,” Nicholson said. “ARMC has once again proved building bridges is possible when uniting communities and cultures. The Berlin Music Commission and the Music Board made this international interaction possible by bringing over artists and delegates from Germany. From an African perspective, we hosted the Zambian delegation for the very first time and 10 Zambian executives travelled here to talk about the state of their music economy and to establish new connections.”
Namakau Star added: “The energy and space at this year’s ARMC was amped-up and super warm. It was great seeing industry professionals coming together, we received a lot of great responses. There was a lot of learning and so many people felt represented.” Additionally, the delegates visited Soweto to learn about opportunities and barriers faced by local artists.
The grand finale of the conference featured a dinner at the esteemed Marabi club, where attendees gathered to raise funds for the Bridges for Music academy. Esteemed musician Zakes Bantwini, one of the earliest supporters of the first ARMC event at Joburg Theatre, lent his support to the evening, symbolizing a full circle moment. The event managed to raise an impressive sum of 300 thousand rand, which will contribute to the growth and development of the Bridges for Music academy.
The Africa Rising Music Conference 2023 embodied the spirit of unity, collaboration, and empowerment within the global music industry. With its successful conclusion, the conference has once again proven that building bridges is possible when communities and cultures come together. ARMC 24 will take place 28 & 29th May 2024.