South African artists are seemingly divided over who is benefiting from the 90% local music quota on SABC radio stations.

During this morning’s SABC 2 TNA Business Brief (Biz Brief), a number of artists today expressed their displeasure over being sidelined from the quota and this Saturday’s massive “Thank You SABC Concert“, which will see over 100 local artists performing.

The TNA Biz Brief was hosted to discuss the progress made since the quota was implemented in May, as well as the line up for the 12-hour long concert taking place at the Orlando Stadium on 10th September.

Door open only to some artists

According to Tebogo Sethatho from the Music Association of South Africa, SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng instituted an open-door policy with the quota, allowing artists to submit their music for airplay across the public broadcaster’s radio stations.

“The doors are closed, trust me,” said an artist named Petello, refuting the existence of the policy. “I phoned Hlaudi twice and he got surprised.”

“As young people, we’ve been promised dreams for a long time …because when you’re talking about [music] festivals, you’re talking about festivals that have line ups only of those artists who appear on TV 100 times a day …we don’t see youths in those festivals, but you’re coming here and telling us that it’s heritage month and you’ve got festivals going on,” added another artist named Romeo, speaking on the kinds of artists booked for events such as the SABC Concert.

“As youth, we don’t want to be promised dreams …but the doors are closed, us as young people, our music doesn’t get played on radios, so we musn’t come here and pretend as if we are happy …When we talk about the SABC concert …where are young people there? We were promised that we’d be part of the line up, but we only see celebrities, where are they now? They’re not here,” he went on.

“We want to see everyone benefiting from this 90%,” Romeo said.

In reply to these complaints, Acting Director-General of the Department of Arts and Culture, Vusithemba Ndima said while the department supports the SABC Concert, they don’t control the line-up.

Ndima did however promise that the department will provide for young, rising artists to be included in music festival line ups.

Poet and chief ambassador of the 90% quota and concert, Mzwakhe Mbuli, defended the selection process and concert line up, saying famous and lesser-known artists had all been included in the mix.

“We’ll have some artists that we’ll drive from KwaNongoma [in KwaZulu-Natal] to Orlando…this has never happened before, so there’s no template of what is going to happen on Saturday,” Mbuli said adding that not all artists can be accommodated.

SABC Concert to travel across the country

To ensure that artists across the country in smaller towns and rural areas also get their chance under the spotlight, similar SABC Concerts are reportedly going to be held around the country, by orders from Motsoeneng according to Morris Kgota, one of the concert’s promoters.

“This event…is starting in Johannesburg, it’s a roadshow, the COO announced that he wants this whole initiative to go national…this is not a celebrity event, it’s a South African event,” Kgota said.