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Challenges and opportunities for production studios

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

Screen Africa chats to Charlene Govender of Sasani Studios about how increased investment in local studios could influence the trajectory of the South African production industry.  

According to PwC’s Insights from the Entertainment and Media Outlook (2019-2023), the South African film and television industry market revenue is expected to reach the R40 billion mark over the next three years.

Despite the positive outlook, however, the industry is not without its commercial pitfalls, with the public broadcaster fostering uncertainty by pulling the plug on some of the country’s most popular and longstanding productions. While the SABC ails and simultaneously looks to re-position itself as the key-player in this sphere, the attention now shifts to other players, including independent and privately-owned platforms, to take up the mantle.

With an expected increase in the amount of productions that will be carried out over the next few years, it is imperative to understand the role of production facilities in this growth and why it is important to invest and improve the standard of studios across the board.

The Role of Foreign Investors

It is not all doom and gloom, however, as the failure of the SABC has opened up the industry to new opportunities and possible participation by organisations with private resources, including those from outside the country.

“Overseas investors would be more comfortable to bring in foreign productions, which would enhance creativity in our local market and result in job creation, as well as a high level output of content,” says Sasani Studio’s Charlene Govender.

However, attracting those resources to our shores is impacted by a number of factors, some of which are favourable and others not.

“The steady decline of South Africa’s currency, albeit detrimental to our economy at large, is an attractive factor for many foreign investors,” Govender says. “Foreign investors, on the basis that the rand has declined, therefore look forward to lower fees for purpose-built studios, predictable production schedules and conditions that will propel a higher rate of return on investment.”

The country’s legislature around the production of international projects is seemingly luring more international production houses to explore local studio offerings, as there are highly appealing financial benefits (including tax rebates) for foreign companies that meet the incentive criteria.

“There is a move for foreign investment into the country, with the intention of using South Africa as the ‘African-base’ (for foreign investors), with purpose-built studios and infrastructure. However, our television and film industry needs to remain relevant on the international stage: for the industry to achieve a high level of content output, the infrastructure needs to be continuously maintained and upgraded to suit the ever-changing technology and what society dictates.”

Revisiting the Business Model

In Sasani Studio’s case, one of the strategies they aim to implement in order to secure consistent industry penetration is re-working their business model.

“We have often considered entering into joint ventures with production companies, with the view that a ‘long term venue’ for soap, drama and ad hoc productions may reduce costs normally paid to external suppliers and convert them to internal funds instead,” she says.

Govender believes that favourable business models are central to every effort made to attract private investment for local studios. In order for this to succeed, the South African film and television industry needs to prove that it can remain relevant on the international stage so that it can attract the attention of the necessary organisations.

Prudent commercial management of these opportunities, such as being able to guarantee medium to high returns on investment – as well as consistent profit-sharing in joint ventures with production companies (both local and international) – is a key to their success. According to Govender, there are steps that studios can take in order to remain visible to potential investors – one of them being consistency when knocking on international doors.

“The consistent highlighting of specific qualities of the production landscape in South Africa will make it more appealing to investors. This includes magnifying the safety and security measures that are in place, which means low risk for production data and content management, as well underlining the welcoming nature of the environment for big names in the industry.”

Long-term Benefits

The ultimate goal is for the local production industry to eventually have an immense economic impact with job creation and industry growth being the most obvious objectives. 

According to Govender, local studios need to continue building on the reputation that the film and television industry has already established over the last decade through housing international productions and leverage the existing credibility as currency for doing business in the future.

Inter-country collaborations have also been instrumental in bringing international productions to our shores through collaborations that have awarded local talent the opportunity to be part of projects that transcend our borders. These collaborations have also afforded local studios the opportunity to show that our skills base can match our international counterparts.

“It is pivotal to have multi-skilled crew members that can step into higher positions when the need arises,” she enthuses. “For example, studio assistants and various other talents should also have ‘on the job’ training in boom swinging, camera operation, lighting skills, vision control and the like.”

Adjusting to the Times

With the current economic climate in the country, production studios are in a position where they need to implement measures that will entice production houses to opt for studio productions as opposed to other – often cheaper – options available to them.

“Although the appetite for content is ever-increasing, the platforms for the production and delivery thereof have changed from that of television studios to other options,” says Govender.

“Investment of funds would result in securing a non-moveable asset with low risk, ensuring a continued passive income and – in the process – position our film and television industry in the foreign market as a lucrative investment opportunity,” she concludes.

Legendary composer Geo Hohn on the perfect audio studio

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

Audio composition and production guru Geo Hohn shares his insights on what makes the perfect audio studio...

With a proven track record in post-production supervision, film-scorer Geo Hohn is very precise about the studios he executes his tasks in.

“I came from a classical music background and my natural talent leans toward film scoring, which involves composition, arranging, orchestration and sound engineering,” says Hohn.

“It is very important to differentiate between a recording/mixing facility or a music production room/studio and a music mastering room/facility. They all have different specifications.”

Exploring Various Production Set-Ups

According to Hohn, audio production studios vary according to the intention of the project and what it requires. They vary from recording and mixing facilities, to music production rooms, to music mastering facilities, as well as sound studios or dub stages (which are used by film scorers when producing for film).

He points out that although they may tend to look the same, technology plays a major role in separating one facility from the next.

“These studios are usually designed according to specifications set out by technology leaders like Dolby or Auro3D. They include formats from stereo through the standard surround formats like 5.1 and 7.2, on to immersive surround formats which are gaining ground,” enthuses Hohn.

“The most common type of studio is for music production and recording. If the budget is not an issue, the ideal average-sized studio would include a facility built from the ground up specifically for this reason.”

The building in which the recording facility is set up has a direct impact on the quality of the sound generated on the premises. Hohn believes that all facilities should be set up in rooms with independent foundations: “To get the best sound balance for referencing or recording in the room, the room should be sound insulated so that sound from adjacent rooms does not ‘bleed’ sound into other rooms.”

Technical Set Up

Hohn says that for fully textured sound it is advisable to employ a studio mixing console, “preferably a SSL or Neve for analogue, and an Avid S6 for DAW control. Add a monitoring system, ideally a Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus Far/Mid field monitors and Sonodyne Nearfields.

“AD/Converters are important: Prism Sound Orpheus and also an SSL alpha link via MADI should do the trick. For an external clock, the engineer can add an Antilope Audio Atomic Clock or Aardvark TimeSync II and Sync DALocks to LTC, VITC, MTC, video, word clock 256x and AES/EBU.”

For great-quality cabling, Hohn prefers anything made by Mogami. For consistently-performing pre amps, he prefers Universal Audio 610 or the Neve 1073, and when it comes to recording software, Hohn relies on Pro-Tools Ultimate and Nuendo 10 for composing.

“For great-quality vocals, I prefer condenser mics – such as a Neumann U87 & TL-102, or Sterling Audio ST55. For ribbon microphones, go with Royer R121 or Coles Electroacoustics 4038,” says Hohn.

In the terms of what would constitute the ultimate recording room, “that totally depends on the size and type of recordings. This can vary for a recording booth for simple voice-overs or ADR to a massive stage/hall for recording a full 140-piece orchestra.”

Innovations in Music Production

Music often only constitutes five percent of a film, but it has an undeniable ability to mould the feel of the entire picture even at different points of the narrative.

Hohn points out that a lot of music that is produced in this current era is produced ‘in a box’: “You can feel a distinct difference. Most people cannot tell you why, but I get comments like warmer, fuller, richer when talking about music recorded in days gone by.”

“In earlier days, especially the 90’s, it was very difficult and expensive to build a recording studio. Most of the music that was created electronically was made on analogue synthesisers interlinked with studio hardware and drum machines like the Roland TR 808,” he adds.

Hohn goes on to explain that in those days, recording was mostly done on a multi-track tape machine and the need to do the editing on a computer was very minimal. It was not surprising for writers who wrote for an orchestra to use the traditional paper and pen method – with an added boost from a piano.

Although there are mixed reviews about the introduction of technologies such as artificial intelligence in music production, Hohn remains optimistic about this development.

“The technology is not quite there yet. We also believe that artificial intelligence will assist us in the future to do better work. So we view it as something positive, not as a threat.”

Top 10 tools in Geo Hohn’s Audio Toolbox:

  • Avid Pro Tools
  • Arturia V Collection
  • Celemony Melodyne
  • Sonodyne SRP500 – Active Speakers
  • Roland A-88 – 88 keys fully weighted MIDI keyboard controller
  • Roland Electronic Drum Kit
  • Neve Genysis Console – 64 Channel
  • AVID 192 I/O – AD/DA Converter 
  • UAD Satellite OCTO – DSP Accelerator
  • Tanoy Gold – Passive Speakers (Powered by 2x Mono Blocks)

The Virtual Wild

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

The Southern African rhino and pangolin populations may have found a new hero in Ulrico Grech-Cumbo, after he set out to add more technological muscle to the fight against the poaching of a threatened species. Armed with high quality virtual reality (VR) centred experiences, Grech-Cumbo tells the story in a manner that provokes the viewer to action.

Since being lured by the possibilities presented by fusing technological advancements and creative endeavours, Ulrico Grech-Cumbo – the founder of Ambrosia XR and (subsequently) Habitat XR – continues to create ground-breaking productions that raise awareness around issues of nature conservation and the protection of endangered species.

After almost a decade of exploring and applying fast-innovating immersive technologies in his productions, Grech-Cumbo harbours very strong convictions about why technology has a bigger role to play in advancing the ideals of society.

He says: “We believe that, in the modern world, people have become critically disconnected from nature due to many factors including urbanisation, habitat loss and technology.”

“Ironically, we believe that technology can help reconnect us to our natural world in a very meaningful way. It’s all about using the power of personalised empathy to foster love and respect for animals and environments that most people will never get to experience in person.”

Virtual Reality Untamed

Presenting content through virtual reality has innate advantages that are exclusive to this technology. It has the power to involve the viewer in a way that compels them to react in a very active manner due to the experience being akin to a confrontation.

It is no surprise that the impact of immersive technologies is already making a visible dent in conservation-led wildlife experiences just as much as in other sectors – such as brand experience and entertainment – that Grech-Cumbo has his hand in (through his Ambrosia XR Agency).

“Sadly, places we call ‘nature’ today are reserved for a very privileged few. Habitat XR produces some revenue-generating work for conservation non-profits like WWF and Conservation International, as well as original self-funded nature experiences, too,” says Grech-Cumbo.

“Our goal is simple; it is to re-connect people with nature through immersive technology,” he enthuses.

Growing a Trend

Immersive technologies are a relatively new phenomenon, and their popularity continues to grow internationally and more so their applications. More and more enthusiasts are consistently finding new ways of bringing the tech to the fore.

Spearheading the trend in South Africa, Grech-Cumbo is very high up on the list of those diversifying the opportunities that are presented by XR, by expanding the need for it in both the commercial and not-for-profit spheres.

The former founder of Deep VR believes that it is imperative not to under-value the necessity of great content over our enthusiasm for the technology.

“There is very little good VR content out there. If we care about the future of the format, we have to contribute to the body of content that already exists.”

“As conservationists at heart, we want to use these experiences in ways that can change attitudes and behaviours for everyone that has the opportunity of witnessing our work,” he adds.

Ideally, Grech-Cumbo aims to establish Habitat XR as the world’s preeminent immersive studio with a strong focus on wildlife and nature conservation. 

Rewild and Relocated

With numerous wildlife productions under the belt, Habitat XR continues to break the mould with more headline-worthy projects. It was inevitable for the company to pursue the rhino conservation conversation.

The bleak future that is faced by the rhino population did not in fail in plucking at the heart strings of the conservationists at Habitat XR. Grech-Cumbo assembled a team that came up with a new way of tackling the problem.

The refreshed approach was not only in the medium used but also in the way the story of the species is told.

“For a long time, we’ve been wanting to do something on the uniquely South African rhino poaching crisis. A lot of the stories out there have their focus on the same part of the narrative: the front-lines, the poachers and anti-poaching,” he says.

He adds: “We heard about the trans-location of black rhino from SA to Chad and decided to focus on a much broader part of the problem – range diversity. We applied to SANParks to be let on the team and they agreed.”

The shoots for Rewild were conducted first at a game reserve in the North West (for the identification and capture process) and then the Addo Elephant National Park. The rhinos were then placed at Zakouma National Park in the Republic of Chad.

“We’re using a combination of four different cameras to capture these projects. We tend to prefer stereoscopic (3D) 360, so we filmed most of Rewild on a Kandao Obisidan R,” says Grech-Cumbo.

“There were shots where we knew the black rhinos could destroy them, so we switched to the Insta360 Pro since it would be cheaper to replace.”

The Virtual Pangolin

Although not as popular as many other endangered species, the pangolin also faces a disastrous future if left unprotected. The team at Habitat XR made it their mission to diversify their attention on the animal through another virtual reality production titled the Predicament of the Pangolin.

In reality, the pangolin is undoutedly the most trafficked animal in the world at this point.

“Pangolins are incredibly elusive – not even our in-house game ranger had seen one in 12 years of working in the field. 

“An opportunity came up to film some that were being researched in the wild at Tswalu and we thought it would be an incredibly cool VR experience to hang out with these iconic and little-understood animals to learn about how they are the subject of a depressing amount of human damage.”

Due to the difficulty of pinning down pangolins, the team opted to film the project in confined spaces. The team opted to employ a two-lens GoPro Fusion camera in order to attempt capturing overlapping visuals and sounds.

In all, the crew managed to snap 55 shots using smaller monoscopic cameras but they might have to cut down on the number of scenes they’ll use once post-production resumes.

Future Conservation Tech

Grech-Gumbo expresses with great vigour that immersive technologies will continue to innovate and change the landscape of the film industry. Due to virtual reality being a growing medium, the improvements that will happen to cameras will have a direct impact on the look and feel of VR experiences.

“In the future, the cameras will capture scenes at much higher resolutions and frame rates and that will probably bring in changes to how we capture light,” he says.

“VR is going to spur a whole new breed of cinematic hardware. Volumetric VR is another trend to look out for – it combines 3D scanning with traditional video capture to create life-like, live action experiences you can walk through wearing a headset,” he concludes.

TECH CHECK

  • Kandao Obsidian
  • Insta360
  • ProSennheiser Ambeo mic
  • Zoom F8 recorder
  • GoPro Fusion
  • Rode rifle mic

REWILD key crew

  • Written & directed by: Ulrico Grech-Cumbo
  • Filmed by: Jared Reid, Ulrico Grech-Cumbo
  • Edited by: Telmo dos Reis; Devan Lowery
  • Audio by: Sam Mahlalela

A PREDICAMENT OF PANGOLINS key crew

  • Story by: Ulrico Grech-Cumbo
  • Written & directed by: Ulrico Grech-Cumbo
  • Filmed by: Jared Reid; Devan Lowery; Ulrico Grech-Cumbo
  • Edited by: Devan Lowery
  • Colourist: Michele Wilson
  • Spatial audio by: Axel Drioli  

The Lost Botanist and the power of virtual reality

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SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

Virtual Reality (VR) is making inroads in entertainment spaces as the preferred experience for consumers of content across various sub-sectors, ranging from gaming to animation projects. Screen Africa chats to Rick and Ree Treweek, the creators of The Lost Botanist, about this game-changing technology and how it catapulted their project to new heights.

The global entertainment industry is explicitly embracing the innovations that are brought about by the technologies that are incubated in tech-hubs all across the world.

Virtual Reality is categorised as an emerging technology even though its origins can be traced back to the 1950s where it was strictly applied in controlled spaces. It was in the 1990s when VR became popular and was made available to the general public for means beyond medical and scientific research endeavours.

There is little doubt that the technology has made great strides in the 21st Century as it has diversified into Augmented and Mixed Reality.

Collision Course

The co-founder of Tulips and Chimneys (a concept and animation studio), Ree Treweek, revered for her work on the 2006 animated award-winning short story The Tales Of How, joined forces with her brother Rick Treweek to create a mind-blowing experience known as The Lost Botanist.

The collaboration saw Ree (a multi-media artist) break away from her traditional platforms and begin exploring the wonders of the VR experience, a world her brother Rick is all too familiar with.

“We (at Tulips and Chimneys) dream up and construct unique aesthetics for environments, sets, props and costumes for all media. We like to be involved in the early stages of conceptualising a project and overseeing its direction right through,” says Ree.

“We are highly skilled in character design – whether it’s a bohemian princess, a wacky vegetable or an outlandish pirate, we take great care to ensure that their stories and unique personalities are beautifully depicted,” she adds.

Rick kicked off his career making entertainment websites before launching his first start-up BreakDesign – which specialised in building websites for hospitality clients. Intrigued by new technologies, his focus shifted towards VR over the years, leading him to co-found a technology R&D studio known as Eden Labs, a hub for everything XR.

“We create impressive experiences with artists to push the limits of emerging technologies by developing XR – Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Holo-lens solutions,” says Rick.

Virtual Reality Meets Ancient Mythology

The brother and sister duo merged their backgrounds and experiences by bringing VR and animation together in a way that pioneers a new wave of consuming content generated and produced on the continent.

The collision course resulted in a project that went on to be the first of its kind by being the only African production to screen at the 2019 Annecy Animation Film Festival.

Rick describes The Lost Botanist as “an interactive adventure for immersive devices, a five-minute journey to another dimension that will restore your childhood sense of wonder”.

The short story is based on a world that has forgotten the importance of nature resulting in pollution stealing the beauty of stars from the desolate space. Through the VR experience, the viewer gets to encounter the world virtually.

“You arethe ‘Lost Botanist’in a world where dreams are starting to die. While researching the lost marvels of the natural world, you open a grimoire that transports you to the Under-Garden, the dream-like home of the spirits of all forgotten things,”enthuses Ree.

“In each of the wondrous places you’ll visit, you must find a mythical creature to guide you further into the unknown, from the Nethermere to the Amber Vale to the Nevermist…” 

The team created a fictional world inhabited by never-seen-before creatures that embody well-researched characteristics while applying existing mythologies.

Multiple Layers

Rick’s journey has been one filled with technological discoveries. Having explored the explosion of tech scenes in countries like Singapore, he experienced trends that shaped the world and are still a few years away from making their way to South Africa.

“I’ve always developed my fantasy world using tech, where Ree has focused more on multi-media platforms. So we figured we could do something quite interesting if we combined those approaches,” says Rick. “VR is the perfect platform because Ree’s approach (in content creation) is completely different and that is what sets The Lost Botanist’s VR experience apart from everything else that is out there. Add the mastery of Markus Wormstorm and the rest of the Tulips and Eden Gang – we knew we had something special brewing.”

“The technology is able to put the viewer in an interactive position, giving them a sense of being part of the story and experience, as well as the feeling of being in charge of the encounter. Through narration and sound, we help guide you through the experience but it feels as if you determine the pace and you are not hurried through the world,” adds Ree.

The animation on the project is spear-headed by Ree’s Tulips and Chimneys Studios – the company that has produced animated work for the likes of United Airlines.

The experience is curated in a way that makes it easier for the viewer to keep track of the moment without any revelations, hidden messages, or encounters flying over his or her head.

“The animation is so in-depth, people will often miss details or sub-stories as they only have so many seconds to watch each scene,” she says.

The virtual experience of the animation is built by Rick’s Eden Labs. The Johannesburg-based entity has development XR experiences for Samsung, Jaguar and IBM Research.

“The fact that you are fully immersed into the environment and can look in every direction really is quite something. VR creates the feeling of belonging in the world. No longer seeing something in a rectangle format but truly immersed in the visuals and sounds of the production,” says Ree.

Changing the Game

The use of 2D animation in a 360-degree environment in this project is counter-intuitive as the animated content is developed for stand-alone VR devices – this is evident in how the experience keeps the viewer at the centre of everything he or she is encountering.

“We wanted to challenge ourselves and create the experience on a low-end platform, meaning that when it came to scaling up to larger VR platforms, a lot of the challenges were already solved by getting it to run on mobile VR where we have a lot more limitations,” says Rick.

This year’s Annecy Animation Film Festival attracted 90 submissions from nearly 30 countries – with The Lost Botanist being one of only nine VR submissions and Ree being one of the two female animation directors in the running.

At the 2019 screenings, the productionwas up against big-name projects like Gymnasia (from the Emmy-winning Felix & Paul Studios), Doctor Who: The Runaway (voiced by Jodi Whittaker) and Gloomy Eyes, narrated by Colin Farrell, which took home the Cristal.

“It was amazing to have so many eyes on the film and to meet other artists developing projects in this medium. It can feel like working on an island when you’re working on a project of this nature, suddenly we were able to have conversations with people that have been through similar experiments and experiences,” concludes Ree.



Tuned in to target-driven radio

SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

The global explosion of the adoption of streaming radio and podcasts as a new way of consuming content has carved a path in the direction of target-driven radio. Screen Africa chats to Rhowan Johannes and Tiff Willemse about why streaming might be the future of radio and the technological innovations that enable it. 

Living in a technologically-advanced era has broadened the playing field in the entertainment spheres. Gone are the days when one would have a structured pattern of how they would consume content, such as tuning into one’s favourite radio show.

Unlike in the past, one doesn’t have to rely on the traditional routines of media consumption – and it is all thanks to the progress that has been made by innovative thinkers.

The world of digital brings with it an array of options – and each option consistently redefines the changes that shift economic and social paradigms.

Rhowan Johannes, the station manager at 2Oceansvibe (a Cape Town-based digital radio station) believes that alternative radio platforms offer a unique approach to the media practice.

“Our origin story is like no other – one man had the genius foresight to create an alternative platform with an incredibly unique tone that now generates over half a million unique hits a month,” he says.

Radio Wars: Analogue VS Digital/Alternative

He says: “Digital radio is a highly active market because technology is so easily available and incredibly user-friendly to set-up. The technology we have right now makes it a breeze to produce live streaming content.”

Digital radio platforms shared a common advantage in that they do not require the intricate technologies that analogue radio efficiency relies on. The availability of software enables the digital platforms to carve a unique niche.

Founder of targeted media platforms, Tiff Willemse, who is the CEO of Massiv Media, conceptualised a niche commuter radio platform that is available on designated mini bus taxis, which reaches a large market due to the average South African’s heavy reliance on public transport.

“The innovation around Massiv Metro was to utilise the innovative technology we have developed over the years and the deep understanding of the urban commuter market and combine this with dynamic, entertaining and engaging content,” says Willemse.

“We developed a radio head unit for vehicles that can only stream content exclusively from Massiv Metro. We are able to leverage our access to very competitive data rates and launch a relevant hybrid radio station,” he adds.

Structured vs. On The Go

The world of radio is undergoing changes that are similar to the ones experienced by other media platforms including television and film. Traditional radio stations find themselves in a position where they are forced to supplement the analogue set up with digital enhancements such as streaming apps and digital presence.

This transition speaks to the undeniable presence of the alternative platforms, while, at the same time, the phenomenon creates a pathway for new players to gain access to an industry that previously boasted high barriers of entry (in terms of platform ownership).

“Our motto is ‘work is a sideline, live the holiday’ – so it’s only fitting that our on-air personalities can broadcast from anywhere in the world. We’ve uncovered great hardware and software programmes that can allow this without compromising on the quality of delivery,” says Johannes.

He adds: “We’ll also be focusing a lot more on podcasting features and packaging these items in a more user-friendly way.”

Willemse openly acknowledges the added advantage that technology has placed at his company’s disposal. As a targeted media platform, Willemse’s Massiv Metro has managed to solidify a presence in carefully controlled spaces (mini bus taxis and assigned taxi ranks equipped with free WiFi), enabling them to reach their targeted market.

“We have not solely relied on this to gain and maintain our audience. Prior to launch, we conducted extensive research with mini bus taxi drivers and with commuters to ensure we put together a radio station that would engage and entertain them,” says Willemse.

“4G networks and WiFi are the key technologies alongside our custom-designed streaming radio unit, which is installed directly inside the mini bus taxis,” enthuses Willemse.

Content is King

2Oceansvibe’s Johannes indicates that it is highly important to take note of audience behaviour and keep track of any changes as and when they happen, because this allows the platform to stay relevant to the audience.

The digital radio world does have its limitations if it is to be compared to the traditional radio platforms, but at the same time it does offer a revised option to audiences who prefer going beyond the ordinary.

When analogue and digital are put head-to-head, it becomes evident that the deciding factor between two is the quality of content.

“We have to drive conversation, shows, topics and interviews across social media enticing audiences to tune in. This is why we encourage our hosts to live stream on socials as well,” says Johannes.

“Where we differ is the content we produce. We don’t work in the same parameters that traditional radio does,” he adds.

Massiv Metro’s Willemse agrees that for any platform to remain resilient, it needs to have a well-coordinated content plan.

He says: “Great content is what brings listeners back to us even outside of the commuter environment and allows us to run highly successful campaigns for our clients.

“Digital innovations are fantastic but there is so much available that at the end of the day people are going to follow and engage with relevant and appealing content and digital innovations are going to need access to this content in order to retain their audience,” says Willemse.

Brand New Wave

It is imperative for alternative radio platforms to package their offering in a very appealing fashion in order to position themselves as a new wave in the geographical radio eco-system.

The talent behind the scenes (and microphones) is a vital tool in the operational framework of the platforms, from the on-air talent to the human resources and administration, as well as the business developers.

“When you look at our current radio landscape, big on-air personalities have now been replaced by presenters who simply back-announce songs and comment on the weather,” says 2Oceansvibe’s Johannes.

“Our platform has stood the test of time because we offer such a unique and diverse group of voices that cover an array of topics and beats. Digital presenters have the power to produce longer-form content and have the ability to be authentically themselves,” he adds.

There is no doubt in Willemse’s mind that streaming radio is the fastest-growing segment of the radio industry, both locally and internationally.

“The shifting playing field between analogue and digital is a moving target. Digital in its conventional format will allow much more competition but will still be controlled by ICASA.

“The freedom of the internet gives listeners the choice to listen to content anywhere in the world, and – at the end of the day – the more accessible this becomes to people, the faster the shift from traditional radio to digital streaming radio will happen,” he concludes.

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