On Saturday, May 9, 2020, Moonchild Sanelly called out South African radio stations for their refusal to playlist/play her track, “Askies.” The song features a body-positive Moonchild expressing her comfort with her body over the JazziDisciples & Mr JazziQ single.
Moonchild is on the hook, celebrating the type of body she has, the catchiest quip was a comment around how she has “thunder thighs.” The song bears no explicit language, at most it could be argued that the reference of body parts is graphic, however that would be a stretch. Unfortunately, Moonchild notes that certain radio stations have refused to play the track due to it being “explicit.” Perhaps the mention of specific body parts was too much for their listenership and advertisers, but instead of citing the song as explicit, which it isn’t, explain the situation.
Outside of “Askies,” there has always been something rotten with radio, unfortunately. In 2016, when it was legislated that SA radio stations were to play 90% local content, the stations resisted and even a few South Africans disagreed with the ruling. However, internationally speaking, it is common practice for stations to play far more local content than international content. Specific to South Africa, it makes no sense that radio stations struggle to pay SAMRO for artist royalties, yet somehow the money to broadcast American artists, royalties in USD, is magically available.
The rule was so poorly implemented that it eventually failed and radio stations were allowed to go back to their own systems of doing things. This was disappointing and bore financial impacts for musicians. 2016 is the year most artists saw a rise in their SAMRO payouts, for the simple fact that their music was being played in their country. To go back to normal, that royalties check definitely took a knock.
It should be the norm and standard for local music to play more than international music. When I lived in the United States, I almost always heard American content. When I was in Accra, I predominantly heard Ghanian music. But in South Africa, I hear just as much international content than I do local music.
On top of the lack of transparency when it comes to the process of radio sampling, specifically how to go about executing the activity, the state of radio is rotten. The shows use recycled social media content. The stations seldom break new artists or even debut new music. Then, to make matters worse, charting while not signed to a major label is almost impossible – thus excluding the thousands of musicians who make radio relevant music from being able to have their songs played on air. Rotten business.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no end in sight to this style of radio activity. However, we can only hope that as younger people start to infiltrate different stations we begin to see a change. In the meantime, artists should focus on the mediums that serve them. Online magazines, social media, online radio stations, and finally the rest of the world. Perhaps South Africa isn’t for every artist, but the world could be their oyster.