The iTunes store finally “launched” in South Africa on the 4th of December. The inverted commas are deliberately suggesting what you are already thinking as a Mzansi netizen – South Africans have been using this Apple music and video application forever, and those keen to buy from the Apple store found a loophole where they could set up a US iTunes account that worked perfectly. Some 12 days after the fanfare relating to the iTunes South Africa news, an article appeared in the Business Day of this past Sunday, titled music retailers unfazed by SA iTunes. Let’s rewind to 4 days before Sunday.
I was booked to play music (yes, this is one of my revenue-generating pastimes) at an event in Phokeng, Rustenburg, on Saturday the 15th of December. As part of preparing for the occasion, I figured that some bit of Batswana music would be great to have in my collection. A Batswana traditional group called Machesa came highly recommended. A friend said my best shot at finding a Machesa CD would be visiting music stores in and around Johannesburg’s main taxi ranks. Off I went, starting my search at the Randburg taxi rank that is in the north of the city. To my disappointment, I found out that the last music CD outlet was closed sometime ago.
I then headed to Noord taxi rank – arguably the biggest commuter hub in
South Africa – in the south-east of the city. This takes a good 30 minutes drive during off-peak. After asking around and visiting numerous stalls in four streets, the best I could find in this busiest part of town were stores selling only Nigerian music CD’s! I was at this very same taxi rank more than a year ago, and there were plenty of stalls selling South African music CD’s blurring out of gumba-gumba’s (music systems). Clearly, there has been a change since then.
Watch this Taxi Hit Squad video about the role of taxis in the growth of Kwaito music
We know that South Africans have not stopped listening to music. If this was the case, Black Coffee – one of our world-renowned South African house music producers, would not have bothered releasing his latest offering in this country.
Does Black Coffee’s Facebook post make the point that mobile devices are increasingly becoming the preferred source for listening to music, which clearly points to preference for digital downloads?
You can also read Are digital music downloads a better deal for artists?
Musica, Reliable Music Warehouse and Look and Listen still have music CD stores found mainly in shopping malls that are typically located far away from main taxi ranks. Key questions emanating from my brief search are:
- How long are music CD’s going to be around for, given the increasing speed of winds of change coming from digital downloads?
- Is the launch of iTunes South Africa going to make this worse?
What is your view?