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CD Baby Brings on First Representative in Africa

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Sakhele Mzalazala

Seasoned independent music advocate Sakhele Mzalazala will support artists across Southern Africa as CD Baby builds out its operations on the continent  

CD Baby is expanding its international artist services team to Africa, bringing on seasoned music business manager and independent music advocate Sakhele Mzalazala. Reporting to VP of International Development Heli Del Moral, Mzalazala is CD Baby’s first hire in Africa where he will be responsible for growing CD Baby in South Africa and other markets across Southern Africa, including Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, and Namibia. Based in Johannesburg, Mzalazala will spearhead strategic partnerships both locally and internationally, building networks with young and established artists in the process, as well as developing and implementing a number of programs to increase visibility and adoption of CD Baby services, and establish strategic industry relationships in the region.

“African artists have impacted music around the world, and we’re thrilled to find the right representative to help them understand how CD Baby can support their careers and creativity,” says VP of International Development, Hel Del Moral. “This step is part of our overall vision to bring the best artist services and rights administration to independent creators worldwide.”

Mzalazala has more than 20 years of music industry experience, including roles with Yourself Management, Xhentsa, and Koloni, working directly with artists Mahlatse Vokal and Lisa Good, and overseeing the publishing team at the prominent South African label Mathaland/Ghetto Ruff, where he worked with Zola 7, Dj Cleo, Pitch Black AFRO, and Morafe. With his own roots in the music industry as a an artist before transitioning to the business side, Mzalazala has a strong track record of supporting independent artists’ work, including a double platinum-release from Zonke Dikana’s Ina Ethe, the late Sfiso Ncwane’s multiple award-winning Gospel album Bayede Baba. He has also worked with Sizwe Zako, Tshepo Tshola, Lawrence Matshiza, and many more, experiences he has distilled into a guide book for independent musicians.

“Working for an international organization like CD Baby has been a dream of mine and I am very excited to have been given such a big opportunity, which in turn comes with bigger responsibilities,” Mzalazala says. “I look forward to impacting positively on the careers of independent artists and labels, where they will have full control and ownership of the works. I have always strived to do what is best for my artists and clients and CD Baby is just that and more. I am excited and cannot wait.”

Southern Africa has long been a musical powerhouse, with artists like Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo shaping international music for decades. New generations of artists have continued to make an impact, including independent cross-cultural groups like Cape Town’s Freshlyground, who racked up billions of YouTube views worldwide. South African independent house DJ and singer-songwriter Black Coffee helped turn the world on to African techno and club music, winning Breakthrough DJ of the Year at the DJ Awards in Ibiza in 2015. Hip hop artists from the region like DJ Nasty C have gained international audiences and exposure. At the same time, other culturally important voices remain strong, including Gospel performers like Benjamin Dube and young torchbearers for traditional genres like Zulu maskandi such as Khuzani Mpungose. Though international music continues to dominate the market (80% of market share in South Africa), the independent sector is growing as the entire music market expands by 5-9% a year, according to data reported by Music Ally.

“Independent artists’ biggest challenges in our region are the lack of information or knowledge, lack of income from their works, and the long-term agreements they sign,” explains Mzalazala. “But artists are becoming independent by owning their masters and getting access to most digital platforms. There is a lot of reason for optimism now.”

Mzalazala joins the 22-person CD Baby international team active in markets across Europe, North America, South America, East Asia, and South Asia.

About CD Baby

CD Baby is the largest distributor and rights administrator of independent music on the planet.  It is home to over 800,000 artists and more than 9 million tracks, getting independent music to more than 150 digital services and platforms around the globe and allowing artists to monetize their presence on YouTube. Artists using the CD Baby platform have earned $850 million since its founding. Its Publishing Administration service allows over 250,000 songwriters/artists to collect all of their publishing royalties. CD Baby has become the go-to partner for many icons in the new music industry. CD Baby is owned by Downtown Music Holdings.

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Bisa Kdei working on a new song with UK rapper Ivorian Doll

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Ghanaian highlife singer, Bisa Kdei has shared photos of himself working in a studio with British rapper Vanessa Mahi, popularly known as Ivorian Doll. (more…)

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Showmax calls for pitches for 10 live action films from first-time African filmmakers

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On the opening day of The Joburg Film Festival, Showmax released an open commissioning brief to the African film industry calling for pitches for a slate of 10 live action films.
The African streamer has won the South African Film and Television Awards’ Made-for-TV Movie Award for two years in a row, first with Loving Thokoza and then with Boxing Day, the first two feature films from Mandla N. In addition, another Showmax film, Kelsey Egan’s debut feature, Glasshouse, was the most awarded feature film overall at the SAFTAs last year, with five Golden Horns.
The new brief, in partnership with the Joburg Film Festival, is aimed at finding new talent and opening up the industry. The proposals must have a first draft screenplay and be set in contemporary Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria or South Africa, with a first-time director attached who is a resident or citizen in those countries. All official Ghanaian, Kenyan, Nigerian and South African languages are welcome and the final films should be more than 40m, in line with the SAFTAs Best Made-for-TV Movie Award category.
“Showmax’s audience prefers local content, with seven of the ten most streamed titles in South Africa, eight of the top 10 titles in Kenya and Nigeria, and nine of the top 10 in Ghana last year being African,” says Yolisa Phahle, CEO of Showmax and Connected Video at MultiChoice. “Making your first film is a key turning point in any director’s career. So this brief is another way we are trying to empower local filmmakers to tell their own stories for their own communities in their own languages. We’re looking for authentic stories that will resonate with our local audiences. Popular genres like romcoms, family dramas and thrillers are always welcome.”
Submissions are now open on https://submissions.mnetcorporate.co.za/channel/showmax; entries close on 1 April 2023. The selected projects will be announced in the second half of 2023 and screened on Showmax in 50 countries across sub-Saharan Africa in 2024.
Pitches should take the form of a video pitch in English of no more than five minutes. This video pitch should include short bios of the writer, director and producer; a concise summary of the story, including the ending; an introduction to your lead characters; and a discussion of your chosen genre and stylistic approach, with visual references.
For inspiration, watch Mandla N’s Showmax x Actor Spaces directing masterclass here:
For more about Joburg Film Festival, visit www.joburgfilmfestival.co.za.
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Mr Eazi calls out Bad Bunny over song theft

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Mr Eazi has taken to social media to call out Bad Bunny over a song theft. (more…)

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Ghanaian footballer Christian Atsu reportedly ‘trapped in rubble’ after earthquake in Turkey

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Ghanaian Footballer Christian Atsu is reportedly among those trapped after an earthquake hit Turkey. (more…)

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South Africa’s Wouter Kellerman, Zakes Bantwini & Nomcebo Zikode win Grammy Best Global Music Performance

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South Africa’s Wouter Kellerman, Zakes Bantwini & Nomcebo Zikode have  won the 2023 Grammy award for Best Global Music Performance for Bayethe. (more…)

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Idris Elba attends Akwasidae in Asante Kingdom

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Idris Elba attends Akwasidae in Asante Kingdom

British actor of Ghanaian and Senegalese heritage, Idris Elba has paid homage to the Ashanti King, Otumfour Osei Tutu II as he attended Akwasidae at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi.

The Akwasidae Festival is celebrated by the Ashanti people and chiefs in Ashanti, as well as the Ashanti diaspora. The festival is celebrated on a Sunday, once every six weeks.

Earlier in the week, Elba revealed that he and his partners have undertaken some groundwork aimed at facilitating the building of a film studio in Ghana and across West Africa.

Speaking to President Akufo-Addo during a visit to the Jubilee House, the actor explained that although so much can be achieved in the film industry in Africa, facilities are lacking.

Hence, Idris Elba is convinced that the project, when completed, will be robust and competitive to attract filmmakers to choose Ghana for their productions.

“Currently, we call it West African Studios, but that’s a working title. We’ve been working on this for three or four years to raise a plan that puts a facility at the centre of African filmmaking. There’s a lot for African filmmaking, but the facilities are lacking.”

Idris Elba added that although their plans are in place, they believe that there needs to be policies that would encourage filmmakers to make the trip to Ghana and other West African countries.

He stated that in their preparations and research, they put together the parameters for the policy, adding that they sought to understand what international filmmakers need from Ghana.

The ‘Beast of No Nation’ actor stated that without the policy framework, the country can have as many film studios as possible, but it will not attract filmmakers.

“We realized that policy is where the actual groundwork needs to be laid. We’ve studied the models of South Africa, incredible incentive packages, Greece, Morocco and these are all places where they realize the value of the filmmaking and they’ve brought that policy into play.”

“National Film Authority has done the work and put together a very comprehensive plan to propel Ghana into the forefront. It needs to be robust and competitive to the rest of the world. We believe for sure that Ghana should step up in terms of attracting those filmmakers. I’ve come and seen you and presented to you essentially, just the parameters of what we need to do.”

President Akufo-Addo assured Idris Elba that the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture is developing a policy framework to guide filmmaking in the country.

He advised that the director of the Creative Arts Agency will liaise with the Tourism Minister to look through the proposal presented, in relation to what the Ministry is doing to ensure there are no gaps.

He stated that this will ensure the film industry has a comprehensive document that guides their activities.

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