When it comes to discussing socio-political issues, artists in general are usually the most expressive compared to most other professions. This includes musical artists, novelists and fiction writers, painters and sculptors etc. In the last music economy article we spoke about how economic recessions affect the music industry. The article described how politicians utilise the services of musicians when campaigning for elections. As frame of reference and to quote from that article, “In the USA – we have seen artists like Pusha T and Jay Z openly endorsing Hillary Clinton during the presidential elections of 2016. During the time when these prominent artists had tours, they would endorse Mrs Clinton on their social platforms, make special mentions of their favoured candidate during their stage performances and even disparaging the rival candidate. In the context of South Africa, the ruling ANC (African National Congress) party would hold national rallies at stadiums around the country and have a procured list of artists to perform there!”
The paragraph cited above has proven to be a point of contestation and caused some mixed opinions from some of our readers. Some felt that musicians endorsing a politician is one thing, however when an artist performs at an event (such as a presidential inauguration) that is another matter altogether as it’s “just another opportunity”. Much as an opportunity to perform should always be explored, this is where an artist must also be aware and weigh up if this form of exposure is worth any form of reputational damage. It is important to note that there is a difference between performing at political and state functions. For example, performing at a political (pep) rally is different to performing at a presidential inauguration. It is very important to differentiate between the two separate structures in order to evaluate the offers that come the artist’s way.
With all the hysteria about global currencies volatility and the trade war with China and the USA, the global markets in the world are going through a bit of a frenzy due to news of another global recession. This is particular to the financial markets with accusations flying around about currencies being either overvalued or undervalued, depending on what each individual country’s (or region in terms of the European Union) agenda is in the global trade arena. With many businesses now plying their trade in the modern global game as either importers or exporters, the situation could adversely affect businesses depending on which on end of the foreign exchange rates is conducive to the particular success of the business. With all that is going on in the global economy, a good question would be how does this affect the music industry?
In the short term, when there’s a global recession or depression, it can usually be a very good thing for music entertainers! Usually when uncertainty looms the tendency “to distract and divert attention” is deployed by governments or businesses, whenever there’s a looming down turn in business or productivity. For example – when companies know that business activity closer to the end of the year will wind down, they then decide that this is the ideal time to have their office parties which involve bringing, food, liquor and entertainment (music). Much as office parties are a genuine gesture of employees thanking their employees, they can also be seen as an anomaly due to the employer “surrendering” to the forces of the market environment. When the festive season hits with all it’s “festivities”, it’s usually a good time of the year for artists as that is when they are at their busiest in terms of bookings. However, musicians can be busy at other times apart from the festive season. For example, when politicians around the world want to campaign elections – a lot of the time they would turn to musicians for endorsements.
Dr Boyce Watkins from Your Black World speaks with a young artist Jay Ortiz about the importance of approaching the music industry with a business mindset. The focus of artists building stages instead of them looking to just jump on to a stage, was the main focus of discussion which was what Jay Ortiz managed to do.
When we started Lavatory Records, it was not just about starting a label, rather more about setting up artists as business people.
Watch this discussion on YouTube or SoundCloud.
In recent times and since the inception of Lavatory Records, many have been particularly intrigued by the choice of name that is “Lavatory Records“. Self-admittedly, when choosing this name – I fully was aware of the “shock factor” it would induce upon people hearing or seeing it. One of the reasons I liked the name, was the “in your face” factor it carried. The name was coined around 2005/ 2006, my understanding of branding at the time was that a good brand has the ability to stay in peoples’ minds. This was when I was just cutting my teeth as a rapper, and had hardly come up with an alias for myself. Now we are in 2015, the question is – why did I choose to KEEP the name Lavatory Records?