Professionalization and structuring of the music industry in sub-Saharan Africa

Initiated in 2014 by the International Music Council, the AMDP aimed to give an opportunity to young students and music professionals from Africa to be trained and acquire the skills essential to the practice of their profession.

“We firmly believe that the music industry on the African continent is at a turning point in its artistic and economic history: African musicians are today exported all over the world; digital and internet tools have changed the way in which we produce, distribute and use a music that today generates significant economic revenue, and festivals that bloom everywhere in Africa have become the showcase of this great dynamic. It is then essential that the new generation of cultural managers have the ability to continue this structuring of the cultural sector in Africa and build a strong and sustainable ecosystem”, explains Charles Houdart, in charge of the implementation of the project.

The initial network of partners has grown exponentially and made it possible to constitute in 3 years a substantial group of promoters, students, artists, organizations and cultural actors. AMDP remains in all respects a major success in that it has allowed initiating innovative activities which have demonstrated their relevance and accuracy in relation to the initial objective: the professionalization and structuring of the music industry in sub-Saharan Africa. These activities include:

  • Academic exchanges for 40 students of the Technical University of Kenya and Makerere University (Uganda);
  • Internships (1-4 months) for 25 students and young professionals in music festivals on the continent (Sauti za Busara, Lake of Stars, Shoko Festival, Le Kolatier, Feux de Brazza, Visa for Music, Timitar, FEMUA, …);
  • 2 « IMPACT Music Conferences » in Harare and Abidjan;
  • Nearly 50 students from Kenya, Uganda, Germany, DRC and Ivory Coast did a 10-day immersion course to discover landmark African festivals;
  • Workshops of practical training in the management of festivals, communication, mobilization of sponsors, stage management,... in Zanzibar, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire... by a selection of renowned African experts and professionals for 100 beneficiaries;
  • More than 200 participants were trained in music management and sound engineering in Malawi and Mozambique;
  • Assistance in the publication of research and articles on the music industry in Africa, provision of teaching resources, and participation in academic and professional conferences for researchers and operators from the continent; 
  • And finally the organisation of the first African Forum on Music in Segou, Mali, attended in September 2016 under the aegis of the African Council, by nearly 80 actors of the music industry from around the world.

Some Concrete and Sustainable Results

This project created an exchange between students of two African universities: Makerere University (Uganda) and the Technical University of Kenya. The activities put in place by each university have looked to mix theoretical teachings and field activities. As a result of this work, practical learning has now been incorporated into the curricula of both universities.

Long and short placements of African and European students in African Music Festivals
This part of the project aimed to allow students from the music and musicology departments of African and European universities to experience fieldwork in a music festival and to thus strengthen their skills and chance for employability. These workshops have created permanent links between African and European universities and African music festivals.
Training workshops for festival teams and the exchange of professionals between festivals
This part of the project has allowed young music professionals with significant professional experience to work with AMDP partner organizations and gain experience in another music festival. The aim was also to create professional and artistic synergies between different music festivals on the African continent and to facilitate the flow of people, skills and information within the African cultural industry.

Technical Training
The Bayimba festival had reported a real deficit of skills in the field of sound. The director of the festival had expressed the need for training so that the local technicians could learn the necessary skills and independently take charge of the sound of the event in the future. After this training, the technicians are independent and, by extension, have improved the quality of sound engineering services in Kampala and Uganda.
AMDV also organized training within FEMUA. The training’s general theme was the organization of cultural events and music festivals, with particular emphasis on communication and marketing. The objectives announced by the trainer were to strengthen the capacities of Ivorian professionals in the design, management and conduct of cultural events, including festivals.
Capacity Building Workshops for African Cultural and Musical Organizations
“The reflection on African music led us to organize workshops to look at the evolution of creative economies and their importance in the social and economic growth of developing countries," explains Charles Houdart. "At a time when the African and world music industry is undergoing a deep transformation due to the widespread adoption of the digital economy, it was essential for AMDP to propose an annual report on the state of the African music industry at the digital age and thus position itself at the heart of the realities of the sector”.

In addition:

1. Several countries (Côte d'Ivoire and Burkina in particular) place the professionalization of the cultural sector as a priority in cultural and educational public policies;

2.  Some AMDP activities are pursued independently by a few partners (training workshops at Music Crossroads, courses organized by the HIFA / Sauti za Busara festival);

3. AMDP has succeeded in creating a communication and information sharing network that continues after funding has ended. The events and initiatives of each are relayed and shared by all on social media and other channels of communication, thus creating a community around AMDP and the actions implemented or promoted;
4. The International Music Council also continued its commitment beyond funding the ACP Cultures + program by organizing the 3rd IMPACT Music Conference in Accra in April 2017.

What were the weak points of the project and the mistakes to avoid? "In the design phase of the project, we have created too many activities," says Houdart. "Some of the components of the project were not very relevant, lacked structure and were moved into second place. We also underestimated the workload for some partners, who had to add tasks related to AMDP to those, already important, routine and regular ".

What are the main principles and common values that guided the project? “Leaning through the practice of fieldwork and experience is essential”, answers Charles Houdard. “It is essential to focus on a South/South transfer of competencies between African experts and young professionals. To achieve this goal, it is important to put forward the necessary continental and international mobility, and facilitate professional networking”, he concludes.

July 20, 2017
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