Interview: Lindiwe Dhlamini of The Orchard Talks About Her Role as Senior Label & Marketing Manager, Benefits of Having A Distributor Like The Orchard & More

Dec 15, 2021

What is your role at The Orchard?

I am the Senior Label Marketing Manager in The Orchard’s South Africa Office. What I do on a day-to-day basis is manage relationships with distributed music clients across a variety of genres, which includes managing day to day retail relationships, presenting marketing pitches to all local digital music services in South Africa, pitching and signing new clients for distribution, managing local release communications and logistics to ensure all content is delivered in a timely manner and to the required specifications, and strategizing and managing priority release campaign logistics from inception through to analysis. Lastly, I liaise with various internal departments, from finance and marketing to legal and management, to ensure that all client and retail partner business needs are met.

What is The Orchard and what are the benefits of being with an organisation like The Orchard?

The Orchard is a global music distribution network that operates in 45 offices worldwide. We tirelessly work to streamline solutions that empower independent artists and labels worldwide. Some of the services we offer include full-service marketing, sync licensing, video services, advertising, rights management, digital and physical distribution, podcasting, publishing administrative services, radio promotion, asset claiming and monetization on DSPs, as well as channel support, in-house advertising, sync and licensing, retail support through marketing to DSPs, and we also have integrated royalty solutions and transparent data analysis. 

How did you get your start in the music industry?

My journey in the music industry started in 2016 when I joined Endemol Shine Africa as an AR and marketing intern for a new music platform called TurnUp Music. I was an intern for about a year and was then promoted to AR Manager the following year. Prior to that, I worked in public relations, handling PR for several media personalities, brands and events. I was also part of my campus radio station’s music compiling committee while getting my degree. At some point, I started content producing for a commercial radio station’s Saturday morning show. Certain experiences crossed over into different roles over the years, which extended into music. So, if we’re looking at the overall entertainment industry, I’d say the journey began in 2012, but if the focus is specifically on the music industry, it all began in 2016.  

What aspect of your job do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy listening to new music from some of my favourite artists before the public gets to hear it, and release planning. We work with some of the most talented clients globally who are also personal favourites. It’s a dope privilege to get to listen to and enjoy my favourite projects, and pitch them to DSPs while getting paid to do what I truly love. 

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging part is educating artists on playlisting. Part of being a marketing manager is working closely with our clients to ensure a stronger understanding that playlists are just a small portion of a bigger strategy. A lot of groundwork needs to be done, and a pitch has to be supported by an in-depth marketing plan, which includes other promotional elements like radio plugging, press releases, social media activity, and more.

Can anyone get their music distributed by The Orchard or do you have a process to select the artists you work with?

The Orchard has a criteria it follows when selecting and deciding on which artists to distribute. We want to see a history of released music that has resonated with audiences. It also helps to see the client has demonstrated they are consistent and capable of driving successful campaigns on their own. This results in a stronger relationship as they bring great ideas to the table, understand what it takes to execute creative ideas, and most importantly, that we can build an incredible release plan together. We like to work with as many clients as possible, but it’s a highly competitive space, so we have to be selective with new signings. In terms of how we measure longevity when signing clients for distribution, we look for consistency, organic momentum, and trajectory. The artist also needs a good team, long-term ambitions and a passion for their creative content. It also always helps to have a healthy monthly listeners-to-followers ratio, and strong engagement on other social media platforms.  to see that some 

What are some of the differences between being with a distributor like The Orchard versus being with an independent distributor?

The difference is representation and global reach. A lot of independent distributors don’t have physical bodies that artists or labels can identify within the territory. The Orchard also offers several other services that most distributors don’t. We’re working towards expanding those services in South Africa over the next few years as we continue to invest and the team continues to grow. 

A lot of local artists have had their music used by the South   African Netflix show ‘Blood Water’. What role would a distributor play in this situation and which rights are the artist entitled to?

A standard distributor wouldn’t necessarily play any role in sync placements or publishing unless they offer sync licensing as a service, which The Orchard does. So, what happens here is the distributor’s sync licensing department would pitch songs to agencies or TV and film production companies for potential use on their productions. They would find, negotiate, and sign sync licensing opportunities for you and songwriters, composers, and music producers who would have created the original songs and lyrics will earn publishing royalties for sync placements on the back end. 

In closing, what is the one piece of advice you wish you received early on in your career?

I’m one person that firmly believes in ‘trusting the process’ so I wouldn’t say I wish there were things that I knew or received early on in my career, because my career started literally after high school when I was still “figuring myself out”. I’ve been constantly learning from different people who I’ve crossed paths with over the past 10 years. I’m also grateful for how my journey is turning out because I’ve had supportive figures and structures around me. Whatever I was curious about, I had the chance to explore, and be guided by the right people around me. I honestly believe that everything has its own time, so I don’t regret any of the choices that I’ve ever made about my career. 

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