Thoughts on Donald's Visual Album 'Something More'

South African house/RnB crooner Donald Moatshe has pulled a Beyoncé and released his very own visual album called Something More. A first for South Africa and a follow up to his previous tread on Queen B's footsteps with Red Mic Xperience (Live In Carnival City) à la The Beyonce Experience. 

Call him a copycat or whatever but there is something admirable and bold about Donald always trying to push the envelope of what our music industry should be doing, al beit by rehashing someone else's strategy or not. It is still freaken ballsy!

Before Bey fans in Mzansi get all triggered, it is not like Bey was the first person to do a visual album anyway. The trend goes as far back as 1964 with the Beatles' A Hard A Day — which is credited with being one of the most influential musical films of all time. Prince also made an impact with his visual offering in 1984 with Purple Rain. 

Of course Beyoncé has sort of redefined what a visual album is by having a video for every track on Lemonade but the premise of the genre still remains; to be considered a visual album, a musical film must feature at least two songs (therefore excluding epic music videos like Michael Jackson's “Thriller” or R.Kelly's 'Trapped in the Closet'), link them with a bridging story, and have been developed or released within a year of the corresponding album. The term 'visual album' was actually coined in 2010 for Animal Collective's ODDSAC offering. 

Anyway, back to Donald; while one can appreciate the work and attempt to elevate the game, it is also imperative that his effort is judged on par with his international influencers. To be a pioneer doesn't mean you have to slack. You don't get a pass on delivering the goods simply because you are the first in South Africa to do it.  

Beyoncé's 2016 Lemonade visual album worked because of two things; one it was an event and two people got to see it without having to go into a store to buy the album. 

Bey and her team clearly understood that to have an impact, the visual album can not just be videos on a DVD that accompanies the purchase of the album CD. That is not reason enough for people to want to buy the CD nor does it create hype for the project. If only people who buy the CD get to see the film then it limits its reach and impact. And that's where I feel Donald missed the mark with his visual album. 

Donald and his team should have worked on securing screening rights with one of the local television stations. For this to have the desired impact, perhaps a collaboration with Vuzu would have made this something big and special. SABC has its own woes at the moment so they were unlikely to take a chance on this and etv is less likely to support a local project like that — so Vuzu would have been a great platform. 

If he did not wanna deal with television execs over this then why not use YOUTUBE. All Donald and his team would have had to do was put the whole film in one video on youtube, promote the debut day hard on social media and do a proper premiere screening event with fans. He apparently had a screening event with the media but I have only seen 2 articles about it and they don't give much detail about this project or even a review. 

He is freaken Donald, you can not tell me if he went to an advertising agency and pitched that idea, no brand would have come on board to sponsor the event. I don't know if he has a PR team and if he does how much he is paying them, but there is a clear lack of support for his big ideas. This man is thinking way bigger than the industry is used to and someone like that needs a mega team. He needs a Bonang-like team behind him. 

Donald's unconventional career moves do not work well with lack of immediate cross-promotional support.  This pervasive new form of artistry puts him in an awkward position in terms of relevance if the use value of his forward-thinking is not exploited to its full potential.  If he's going to emulate people like Beyonce, he better deliver or elevate otherwise he risks being just a fong-kong. 

I have not seen the videos so I can not comment on that. What I do love, judging by his social media posts, is that he is out there doing signings with fans. That should encourage CD sales. And album artwork looks amazing — that's bedroom poster material for his young fans. 

Donald - Something More is out in stores now. You can also stream or buy via iTunes HERE.

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