Old Mutual has opened a state-of-the art walk-in creative hub in Newtown, Johannesburg, in an effort to equip upcoming artists with the necessary tools to conquer the industry.
The studio comes with a coffee shop, a VIP lounge, presentation rooms and co-working stations.
SADC News spoke to Bandile Mngoma, manager of sponsorship and events at Old Mutual, and he said they opted for a music studio because music is the biggest root of the entertainment industry.
“We are targeting the entertainment industry as whole and we hope that we could be of value in terms of making sure that people are educated about the ins and outs of the industry. But for now, the starting point is music,” said Mngoma.
He added that the studio will serve as a workspace for up and coming musicians who don’t have office space. They will be given access to free Wi-Fi along with a boardroom, recording studio and venue they can book to use. But most importantly, Mngoma hopes that: “like-minded individuals will come to the space to network, share ideas and cross pollinate.”
The hub will also be hosting master classes with established industry veterans. Singers including the likes of Thandiswa Mazwai and Letta Mbuli have already presented their master class, sharing their experience and lessons in their time in the music industry.
The AMPD Masterclasses and AMPDIcons are important features of hub and will be running throughout the year. They will also be broadcasted once a month on Afternoon Express, Metro FM and Old Mutual’s digital platforms.
Mngoma says the classes are important because the foundation of the hub is education.
“I believe that it’s important and critical for us to equip people with knowledge,” he explained.
“Right now, we are saying, from a value chain point of view, let us start from the beginning. Instead of just booking an artist to perform on stage for an hour and then leave, we are looking at the value chain from beginning to end.”
So, how do artists utilise the studios? According to Mngoma, one doesn’t need any membership. You just walk in and register your name and contact numbers. “The goal is to create a community that we can stay in touch with and share information with.”
Mngoma added that they are not a fly-by-night creative hub. As one of the major sponsors of music for more than thirty years, they are committed to working and empowering artists.
“We are committing ourselves to walk the journey with the artists. And we can do it because we do have that experience,” he adds.
“We even have three-year list for our studios which shows that we are in it for the long haul.
“We are also planning to partner with other industry organisations like Samro and the National Arts Council because they have experience with these kinds of workshops and so let this also be a platform for them too.”
Mngoma hopes that this will eventually lead to more musicians having more sustainable careers.
“There are so many artists that say they are broke after five or ten years in the industry and maybe it’s because they don’t have the tools,” he says.
“We are hoping to plant the seed, water it and hopefully we can get to a point where people have more sustainable careers.”
The music studio is set to open on 25 June.