Wanna #OpenUpTheIndustry? Part 2: Blame The Artist

In this second part, let's look at the contribution made by creative practitioners in perpetuating this redundancy issue of recycling faces. 

During the #OpenTheIndustry debate many solution suggestions were thrown in the hat such as unionising the industry, using different people, etc. All good points and will certainly have a positive impact in the growth of the industry. However, change begins with the very people who need it. 

A lot of South African artists will not admit it but they are the reason behind the industry seemingly only focusing on few people. By not taking their craft seriously and investing in their own brands, they have allowed the few who actually do this run with industry. 

Say what you will about the Bonang, Pearl, Boity, Maps, Aka, etc, but you can not take away the fact that they dont just sit on their laurels and expect things to happen for them. These personalities have elevated the game and themselves by positioning themselves as not just people on tv or celebrities but as viable brand entities that have influence in the industry and thus should be paid as such. 

While their influence and talent is subjective ( the influence is very debatable because some of them do not have the numbers to back their influence up), their brand value is undeniable. He who controls the media, controls the people. The above mentioned people control SA media so they have the power to pull jobs. 

Given that our reporters in Mzansi have turned into REPEATERS, [journos do not do substantive stories anymore, gone are the days when journos researched stories and profiled talent, now all the media does is troll Instagram and repeat what is happening on Twitter and that becomes headlines] being a trending topic on Twitter is the bases for celebrity credibility which attracts jobs. Unfair, ridiculous ... oh well ... Celebrity sells!

We can argue that trending on Twitter does not mean your show has huge ratings or people buy your endorsed products. BUT you get attention when you trend on social media  and that is all that matters these days. Most tv shows are now advertiser funded, so brands want media coverage and our local repeaters reporters love social media stars. 

Having Bonang host a tv show means the show will get massive digital and print media attention. People may not stick around beyond the first episode or even be watching at all but they will be aware of it ... and that means the brand gets the traction it needs. Even people who wont watch the show will be exposed to the existence of the show and by association the brand behind it. See how the brand wins?

But how do these personalities get to have that privilege? It is easier to work with a Bonang or Boity than to try and work with an actress on Generations even though the actress has 20 times more viewers watching her  everyday than Bonang or Boity. This is simply because Bonang has a team behind her.

Brand marketing teams are not gonna sit around and wait for you to get yourself sorted, they go with whomever is. Bonang has people who setup deals and negotiate for her. Sadly most artists in this country cant even be bothered to put together a decent bio. They aren't even google-able.

If you dont have a website, do not bother to make an effort by branding yourself, how do you expect brands to notice you for endorsement or opportunities? Do you think people who hire Bonang or Pearl Thusi watch their shows? NO but they are aware of them because of the brand identity that is associated with their name.

How many times do you see people invited to special events in this country but they don't even bother to make an effort to dress decently? If you do not invest in yourself, how do you expect someone else to? Sit with any of these "successful" artists and they will tell you that they had to pay for stuff to build their image before they became stars. 

Being an actor, singer or presenter is not enough for you to build a brand around your name. You have to put in the work and yeah spend money too. When I used to profile stars on this blog, I would call people asking for their pictures or bio and they would tell me to ask the channel publicist. How many people is the channel publicist dealing with? Of course I often didn't bother and just moved to someone else.

Media coverage as well. These people who get media media coverage often send press releases to the media about what they are doing. When they have a new show, new album, new business venture, etc coming up, they will send a press release and thus create a hype around their work. 

Designers are not gonna give you clothes if you are never photographed. You wont get photographed if you never show up anywhere interesting. See where I am going with this? You gotta put in the effort to play the game. Talent (or the lack thereof) if not enough to make you a bankable star in this industry. 

We can complain that Pearl, Boity, Minnie and Bonang are getting all the jobs but maybe we have to look deeper than just assuming its favouritism and look at what they put in to attract such opportunities.

Sidenote: Everything has its season. Sometimes it is just a period for some people to shine and we get over it after a while and turn our interest to something or someone else. All industries evolve.

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