Limiting Local Music analysis

Limiting Local Music analysis

Name: Jason Von Berg
Academic analysis of Limiting Local Music
A jB Production

As a filmmaker one has a certain responsibility towards the audience it is aimed at and serving. Therefore in the analysis of a media text there are certain aspects that should be accounted for and in turn need to be explicated further. This essay will examine the documentary entitled “Limiting Local Music” as a media text and will bring to light issues pertaining to representation and identity.
The documentary is focused on the many problems facing South African musicians, whether it is a lack of albums in music retail stores or whether it is a local band or musician competing with a larger, well marketed and wealthier international musical act. In a recent article published it has been stated that, “South Africa may not be a big territory in the international music business but it is very interesting and important,” (JT COMMUNICATION SOLUTIONS, 2006). It therefore is evident that there are definite problems in the local scene and this documentary strives to highlight them, but that is not to say that these issues cannot be sorted out. Instead this documentary aims use these highlighted problems as a means to generate a forum for discussion in which music industry players such as record labels, agents, members of the Department of Arts and Culture look at the current state of the music scene is in and therefore aims to rectify and up the standard of the industry.
In this documentary several key music industry players have been including the band Fevertree, Unathi Nkayi; a YFM DJ and a singer-songwriter, Julio Garcia; 94 Highveld Stereo’s Homebrew host and Koula from 5FM Music. Each and every one of them play significant roles in the industry and have all contributed significant amounts of information to this documentary. They all appeal to different markets and audiences, but the problems remain the same, which I would suggest can therefore be seen as general industry problems. With such a broad range of interviewees and their different influences, one area that I did steer away from was that of race. Race is defined in the 1910 Oxford English Dictionary as: “A group of persons, animals, or plants, connected by common descent or origin,” (Banton, 2000: 53). The reason why this was done is because the focus of the documentary was the problems of the South African music industry as a whole, and not because of the racial divides. I do understand that there is a very strong black musical following, but then I would have to bring in the cultural divide too. Especially since the Afrikaans market is so well established and a strong contender in the local industry too. Therefore white English singers would thus seem disadvantaged because not only are they competing with a strong black and Afrikaans market, but also then with those who are big international stars too. The focus would thus turn into a forum whereby some may feel they are being “othered” by the manufacturing of meaning in this documentary.
I would suggest that in the current state South Africa is currently in, in terms of being ten years into her democracy, this documentary is product of this new era we find ourselves in. This statement seems to be supported by Baines in the sense that he states there is a, “New South African national identity [is] being constructed discursively through the media,” (1998). A documentary like this one serves to encourage this new identity because music, like sport is something that tends to unite people and differences seem to be put aside for that particular moment in time. Julio Garcia in one of his comments mentioned that he had been to a rock concert; a genre listened to by predominantly by white audiences. He said that there were close to one thousand black people there supporting the act. I think this is essence a reflection of where our society it heading. Baines is quoted as saying that “In a multicultural state there must be open cultural borders for those who wish to cross them, to do so,” (Baines, 1998). I would consider myself to be a multicultural subject in the sense that I prefer more urban music, which again is seen as a genre listened to by a predominantly black audience. The documentary takes on the form of public journalism because it raises awareness among viewers, and in the medium of television a documentary like this can create further follow ups as to how things are progressing. In other words those who watch the documentary are encouraged to become more active participants as opposed to being passive viewers. I would then suggest that this is indeed a public journalism documentary because established names in the music industry are faced with many problems, but there are equally as many bands and artists at a grass root level, who pine for bigger exposure yet they face the same problems. A documentary like this could help them break out of the mould with a little bit of knowledge as to how to cope with the industry’s problems
I would suggest at this point that it is imperative to define what exactly is meant by the term documentary. A documentary “Refers to film or video that explores a subject in a way the public expects to be factual and accurate. Documentaries may be balanced by including various viewpoints, or they may be subjective, offering the viewpoint and impressions of one producer.” This documentary raises several viewpoints on the local music industry, where it stands at the moment and what can possibly done to resolve the issues many musicians are faced with, and I would suggest that it is done in an objective manner. The documentary may not be hard-hitting in its nature, whereby issues of inequality are constantly raised and issues of race are still rather sensitive, but rather it aims to perpetuate a new, fresher outlook on how all South Africans can be play a part in the development of a new national identity (Baines, 1998). I would again suggest that local music is a tool whereby the media does indeed have “The power to signify events in a particular way,” (Surrevitch et al. 1982:80) and therefore “Media images do not merely represent reality, they are reality,” (Hall et al. 1992: 247). Perhaps this sounds somewhat idealistic and very simplistic in the sense that big names in the local industry are used in this documentary, but there is a definite space in which to grow this new national identity that many long for.

Baines, G. 1998. “The Rainbow Nation? Identity and nation building in post-apartheid South Africa”. Mots Pluriels 7. available at

Banton, M. 2000. The Idiom of Race. In Back, L & Solomons, J (eds). Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader. London: Routledge

Hall, S.1992. “The question of cultural identity”, in S. Hall, D Held & T McGrew (eds.) Modernity and its Futures. Cambridge: Polity Press. Pp. 273-326.

JT. Communication Solutions. (2006). “World’s Biggest Music Market”. Retrieved from on the 11th of July 2006.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *