By: Vuyolwethu Dubese

Hip Hop (or as I like to dub it – street poetry) is easily gaining favour with me recently and this is due to not only the comical rhymes but also the stripped  truth that the rappers unfold about the business of the industry. Rappers who have been in the game for some time like Tumi, Kanye, Reason and Jay Z subtly talking about the business of branding via the classic line “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business man!”.

Fast forward almost 10 years later, that same concept of Mr Carter’s line has been stapled in the hit single Rands and Nairas by Emmy G when he states: “You’re in the music industry, I’m in the music business.” The gentlemen are highlighting one misunderstood and often undermined notion by upcoming and sadly established creatives in the south, and that is, as much as you’re passionate about your art, it’s not enough. It’s not enough to just be passionate about your craft. Craft the art of the business of your craft too.

When I talk about business, fortunately I don’t mean go and register a business and employ 10 other people so that you can make money. No. I’m talking about investing the time to add value to you just being a singer who just uploads on datafilehost and tweets, but you as a creative carrying the weight of responsibility of valuation for your brand.

Do you value the music that you distribute? Or are you just doing it for the popularity? Are you doing it for the passion? If yes, how are you going to sustain yourself? Will you live off R200 a week and a “5 drinks a night” tab everytime you perform? When will you eventually align your passion with your paycheck? Are you planning to anytime soon? What’s your marketing and distribution strategies? These are just some questions that as a creative you should be dating before and during your career. And it’s a journey, so it won’t all happen at once, pace yourself. But, be in your business and work on it.

The impression that I want to imprint on you is that you have to align that passion with sound business acumen and knowledge of the industry that you’re in so that you can make money off your skills and talents. Uploading a file on datafilehost might be good when speaking on terms of awareness but it’s not enough.  Attend a music conference where there’s a mine of knowledge from expert panellists, invest time into networking (and no, not just turning up in clubs every weekend) following the Twitter accounts tailored for your brand, build a relationship with know your community/non-commercial radio hosts and READ about the business of your industry. Treat your rapping or singing as a business so that you can be a part of the music business.

Take it how you may, this is me being naked with my desire for every fellow creative to prosper and to be in the business of aligning their passion with their paycheck(s) .

Read more articles by Vuyolwethu


Vuyolwethu Dubese is a Cape Town born and based writer, radio and TV presenter. Get to know her a little bit more on Twitter: @VDubese


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