Over the last few years, I have become ever increasingly involved in Moshito, the South African music industry conference and exhibition. I went from being just an attendee, to a panellist, to the MC, workshop convener and now this year, the conference chair. This year and last, Moshito organised workshops in townships around Gauteng, in conjunction with the Gauteng local government.

This is amongst the most inspiring work I have ever done in my life. Especially when I see, as I did yesterday, faces from LAST year’s workshops back at the conference, more confident, with recorded albums, working the trade. It is inspirational. Moshito itself has grown massively in the 7 years of existence. It’s not perfect and has taken a lot of flack. Some of it justified, some of it no more than political manoeuvring. But it is improving.

My hope is that we can reach out to other provinces better in the future, take the workshops and some kind of roadshow to the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Limpopo and so on.

The line-up of speakers this year is mainly local, but the content is tightly focussed on real, every day problems that the SA industry faces. So far, at the beginning of day 2, it’s going well. There was a record attendance at the first day’s opening ceremony and the amount of new, fresh faces indicates that finally, Moshito seems to be established enough for everyone to be paying attention. For me, after 23 years of work in the trenches of the business, I feel a reward and an inspiration being at this year’s conference.

I have often felt unrewarded, unnoticed and neglected in my work in the music business. But these events have a way of making it all seem worthwhile. Being able to give back some of the hard lessons during these sessions and seeing faces light up with understanding are all the pat n the back I seem to need for those years after all. My only regret this year is that my book could not have been ready on time to promote to all these kids.

A few years back I was being somewhat disparaging about Moshito to one of the international speakers. His name was Andrew Missingham, a producer, drummer and all round good guy. He said to me, if you think the organisation is so flawed, get inside, use it and change it for the better. Now while I am not so arrogant as to say I am changing Moshito for the better, I do like to think that my involvement and that of other like me, has contributed to its growth.

It’s a lesson that I press on many people. If you don’t like the status quo, get involved, contribute, help. Complaining is easy and is the panacea of the cynical. If you are serious about growth and change, the only way is to get your hands dirty.