By: Tebogo Mokwena
Independent artists can take advantage of digitisation to monetise their work, brand themselves as businesses and keep an eye out for competitors in order to grow nationally and internationally. This is according to Eduardo Cachucho, the creative director for the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival, and Mags Shivanda, who is the founder and managing director of DigitalShero Media Group.
Cachucho and Shivanda were part of a panel discussion on Wednesday hosted by digital skills organisation, Digify Africa. Speaking to Vutivi News, Shivanda, whose business has been operating since 2015 and has done work for clients such as the Competition Commission, Rhodes University and Nedbank, said that digitisation made it easier for artists to trade as businesses in a more formal and profitable manner.
Digital technologies have also made it easier for artists to manage and track their finances, sales and marketing efforts. “Online tools such as e-commerce platforms, accounting software, and marketing automation tools can help artists to streamline their business operations and focus on creating and promoting their work,” Shivanda said. “Independent artists can take advantage of digitisation to brand themselves as businesses by utilising online platforms and tools to establish their online presence, build their fan base, and monetise their work.”
Cachucho said that many African creatives have established serious businesses by growing organically from their own communities into national and international spaces. The Fak’ugesi festival is a collaboration between the digital innovation ecosystem, Tshimologong Precinct, and the Wits School of Arts and Digital Arts Department. It has been running since 2014. Cachucho believes that being able to sell one’s craft online has been a game changer, which also benefitted the logistics sector since 2020 with the rise of package deliveries.
He believes, however, that consumers are still in search of physical objects that make them happy, feed their creativity and make their lives better. Also, navigating the world of digitisation in its current state was difficult, Cachucho said. “While I do believe that blockchain will be vital for the future of digital creative practice, the current space is in the middle of so much volatility, profit-making and sometimes just pure thievery that to navigate this space is extremely difficult, especially if you can’t afford to lose the time and money on the experimentation,” he said.
Cachucho said that a lack of work experience was a significant barrier to entry for artists who worked in the industry. “Many artists do not get the opportunity or space to work in the industry,” he said. “This real-life experience, in my opinion, is the single most important factor for success in the future because you learn so much that schools, colleges and universities cannot teach you.” Another challenge was artists monetising their work, especially if they were starting out or if they operated in a niche market, Shivanda said. “By utilising digital platforms, networking, and taking advantage of available resources, artists can overcome these obstacles and establish themselves as successful creative professionals,” she said. “Creatives can also engage with their fans and audience through social media, email marketing, and other digital communication tools to build a loyal following and foster a community around their work.”