Audiences, nowadays, no longer come to live shows to listen to the music, they just come for the atmosphere, a local sound engineer has said.
Burton Reid, who has over 20 years of experience in various disciplines in the Namibian and South African music industry, believes this is because of the way organisers set up their events.
He shared this insight in the National Theatre of Namibia’s ‘Music Business in Namibia’ Reader, an online publication which contains a compilation of reflections, perspectives and recommendations by experts in the industry.
Reid’s focus for the Reader was strategies to consider for the live music scene. “The trend is that too many artists are booked, and the show is too long. I would encourage event promoters to organise shows targeted at music lovers and not just for the vibes,” he said.
He started in television and radio in Namibia, and his primary focus at present is music production for live events, recording, mixing and mastering while also conducting various workshops in music production techniques, which is driven by his passion for music, respect for people and desire to learn.
Reid has worked with various events organisers, producers, and festival curators, and implored artists and festival organisers not to book young talents to perform at big open-air events, where they can get swallowed up and their talent goes unnoticed.
“Rather, young artists should build their following from smaller spaces so that they are joined with appreciative audiences onto the big stages,” he noted.
“This is going to require government intervention to provide spaces where young talents can explore and develop their stage work as well.”
Reid moved to Johannesburg at the end of 2009, and has toured with Selaelo and TKZee, working as road and technical managers as well as sound engineer. He is also the second engineer for Lira, mixing her live shows when the first engineer is not available.
His career highlights include mixing performances for Kenny Lattimore, Eric Benet and Karyn White.
Reid is of the opinion that promoters book brands that are relevant to their audiences, saying they don’t look at how good a musician is; that becomes secondary.
“They do not concern themselves with exposure and developmental opportunities for artists. Promoters these days look at the brand and its following, and if the event will establish ticket sales.”
In terms of the “small” Namibian population that relates to small crowds, Reid does not think anyone who is serious about their music, and making a living out of their music, can expect to sustain a living out of the audience numbers that Namibia is limited to.
“For instance, the Windhoek Jazz Festival only happens once a year, what other platforms do artists have to perform for that kind of audience size in Namibia? I would think that Namibian artists need some kind of creative way to build partnerships with brands across SADC on an annual basis… That may help, and you can only do that if you up your skill and overall competitive performance qualities.”
He also discussed the value of developing live instrumental playing amid the rising demands of electronic music.
Find more info on: ntn.org.na.