Founder of the Breathe Sunshine music conference chats to us about the industry in SA

2014-09-26 12:57

Cape Town - On Friday 3 October, Johannesburg’s Market Theatre will see a host of local and international music industry heavyweights at the Breathe Sunshine Engage conference, an inspiring one-day music conference.  

Aimed at anyone wanting to learn more about the industry, delegates will engage in topical panel discussions and stimulate 'on-the-couch' sessions focused on building the industry.

We recently had the opportunity to chat to the founder of the conference, Trenton Birch, who is also known for his band, Trenton and Free Radical.

Check out the interview here:

You are the founder and organiser of the one day music conference, Breathe Sunshine Engage. For the people who are not familiar with the conference and what it’s about, please tell us more about it and how it came to be?

The Breathe Sunshine African Music Conference is a two day event we have held in Cape Town for the last  2 years. We decided to bring the event to Johannesburg for a one day once off conference to help establish the brand in the Johannesburg industry. The event is about knowledge sharing and networking as we strive to build our industry into a global force.   

What are the most important issues that will be discussed during the conference?

We will be discussing the lack of good management in the country and what can be done to change that and how to take African House music global. There will be on the couch sessions with Coda, an agency from the UK and the Presets from Australia, where we will look at how to tour from remote locations. Our headline speaker, Terry Weerasinghe, who is the Vice President of music services at Beatport, one of the world’s premier music download sights, will also be highlighting how SA can tap into the global dance music opportunity.

Who will benefit from the conference?

All who attend. It doesn’t matter if you are starting out or whether you are already in the industry. We cover enough content to ensure there is value to everyone.

You are a musician yourself, playing in the band Trenton and Free Radical. As a musician, what do you think are the most important issues that need to be addressed in the music industry?

People don’t work together. Everyone is stuck in their narrow world and protecting their patch. We need the help and to empower each other. SA music is starting to have a world stage but we need to mobilise as an industry, be nicer to each other and find common objectives in order to realise our true global potential.

How have you seen the South African music industry grow over the years?

The live scene is growing very fast and the growth in the house scene has been incredible. Also more of our "new age" artists are touring the world as opposed to just the more traditional "world music" acts, so that is very encouraging.  

Where do you see the SA music industry going? Will it improve in the future?

I believe passionately that in the next 15 years we will be one of the biggest exporters of music in the world. We have unique stories, amazing cultures and we drive hard. We are still struggling with identity and that is evident in our music, but as we start to solidify what it means to be South Africana and take more pride in who we are, how we speak and shake off many decades of cultural colonization, we are becoming a force to be reckoned with. It improves every day.

How important is it for the people in the music industry to come together and share their knowledge at conferences like Breathe Sunshine Engage?

Meeting, sharing, engaging and empowering the industry at grass route levels is the key to our success and events like ours help with this.

Many musicians struggle to make a living by just playing music in SA. Do you have any advice for up and coming musicians who are trying to make it?

Play live as much as possible, don’t quit your day job – there is no honour in starving off your art, work hard and then work harder. This is an industry that is based on 80% will and 20% skill. The ones with the most will have a better chance of making it. Don’t think just because you can sing or rap that you deserve to be an artist. Talent is only one part of the puzzle.

In your opinion, what constitutes 'success' in the music industry?

Success is being able to make a living from what you love. It’s not all this illusion that the international, and sadly sometimes local, industry puts out in terms of fast cars, hot chicks and big houses. That's a pipe dream and very few artists attain that. If you can pay your rent, feed your family, go on holiday every now and then and all of this is coming from music, then you have truly made it doing what you love – that is success.

Lastly, what are some of the highlights people can look forward to at the conference?

Apart from the above we have HHP and Khan (Parlotones ) on the couch. That's one of the most exciting initiatives. It puts two highly successful artists from very different backgrounds on the same platform to share their experience. I’m inspired that this will help break down barriers and will be an interesting conversation. It will all be a highlight, we work damn hard on our content, it will all be world class as we have world class people in our industry.

Event Information:

Breathe Sunshine Engage conference
Time: 09:00 to 17:30.  
Date: Friday 3 October.
Venue: The Market Theatre, Newtown, Johannesburg.


R195.00 - Full day ticket.
R595.00 - Combination ticket for Breathe Sunshine Engage and Vodacom In The City.

Click here to get your tickets.

For more information on the conference visit their website or Facebook page.

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