Music Exchange #MEX20, Cape Town, South Africa, digital conference

Dates: September 10-20, 2020

Tickets: R100

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Music Exchange – #MEX20- is celebrating its 10th anniversary with its conference going out digitally. The annual entertainment-economy-investment conference is held in Cape Town and features speakers and delegates from abroad and from the African continent. With lockdown and Covid-19, everything will be online for the 2020 edition.

The talks and workshops  will be live streamed from September 10-20. The #MEX pass provides automatic entry into the 10th anniversary competition, with prizes on offer.

MEX was established in 2009 by music manager, producer and publicist, Martin Myers as a way of empowering and developing the local music industry for global stages. In 2010, Myers invited legendary musician, Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse to come on board as chairperson of the conference. In addition to the annual conference, MEX hosts monthly master classes and activates around its slogan: “Empowering the entertainment economy.”

Throughout lockdown, Myers has been involved in lobbying for rights for artists –urging radio stations to play South African music. He has lobbied for rights and royalties.

When MEX started a decade ago, digital was in its infancy in terms of the way music is distributed. Now, it is the industry standard. MEX has been vital in providing artists with the tools to navigate the fast changing industry- copyright, intellectual and creative property. In lockdown and the global pandemic, with so much going “live”, it has become a lot more complicated. One no longer needs a record label but with no barriers to entry into the industry, that leaves many artists venerable –without guidance.

A moment of reflection- last year- 2019 – prior to the MEX conference- I put it to Myers that although digital is dominant, “there is the need for people to network and talk – face-to-face.” I put him to that one of the “key benefits” of the conference is “physically getting people to look each other in the eye – talk and listen.” Who would have known that the word “physically” would take on such power, a year later. Myers replied: “The music business is all about contacts and delivering on what you set out to do and this conference and all the MEX conferences have been outcomes based and you can speak to speakers and fellow delegates face-to-face ,so much so that the three  intentional speakers at MEX18 did a wonderful business deal together as they spent three days together talking the business of music. It was Ben Oldfield and Christian Wright who happens to work at Abbey Road and Mark Murdoch who all worked out strategies with the artists they are working with to get them to market. Now all of this is coming into play 12 months later as they launch their work.”

Luckily, we can make virtual face-to-face contact at the digital conference. Hopefully by 2021, MEX will be able to be held physically,  in-person again. However, as with many events which have gone digital, we are likely to see a hybrid model emerging – in-person combined with streaming –so that events can be accessible for those that cannot get to the physical happening.