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Calling all sound engineers: Mix a Freshlyground track and stand in line to win prizes valued at R130K

To commemorate the 10th year of the media and entertainment trade show - Mediatech Africa and Academy of Sound Engineers (ASE) have collaborated with Freshlyground to launch MasterMix - an inspiring new competition for emerging sound engineers. With incredible prizes valued at over R130,000 up for grabs, and the opportunity to mix the separates of Refuge, an unreleased Freshlyground track, the organisers are expecting a lot of interest and for that reason have capped the entries at 100. Even more exciting - the winning mix may be released on an upcoming Freshlyground album - a decision to be taken by the band.

Applications are now open (click here to enter) and the competition closes at noon on 5 July. To enter you must be a South African resident, 18 years or older, with access to audio mixing equipment. The overall winner will receive an ASE bursary valued at R100,000 and a selection of gear sponsored by Wild and Marr valued at R30,000. The winner must be present at the finals to receive the prize.

ASE marketing & communications director, George Hattingh Jnr., explains that to qualify for the competition – hopefuls must complete the online form and pay the R100 competition entry fee. “The first 100 to complete this initial step in the competition will be guaranteed a spot. The separates will be made available to them and they will have until 5 July to enter their work.”

Preliminary judging will be completed by lecturers from the ASE and a top 8 short list will be announced on 11 July ahead of Mediatech which runs from 17-19 July. A rubric will be used to ensure a fair process and the judges will be looking for a mix that’s professional enough for public release. They will consider overall energy/vibe of the mix, tone, levels, and panning and effects and the gut feel of the mix will also be taken into consideration.

The ultimate winner will be voted on by the public at Mediatech at the ASE stand (i32). Although the track is just under 4mins long – the public will only listen to and vote on a 30 second segment of each entry. The finalists will be anonymous at this stage and the winner will be announced at 4pm on 19 July – the final day of Mediatech. If the winner is not present to receive their award they will forfeit the prize and it will be passed on to the sound engineer who was placed second.

Hattingh says, “The purpose of the competition is not to remix the separate tracks into a new style or genre. It’s to produce as if you are mixing for an album release for the client - in this case the client is Freshlyground - one of the most acclaimed bands to emerge from South Africa.”

Traditionally Freshlyground blends the infectious kwela style and musical traditions from Zimbabwe and Mozambique with elements of pop, jazz, blues and indie rock. According to Hattingh, Refuge is a really interesting multi-instrumental track with brass, piano, guitar and more, and a reggae influence, adding, “The track is interesting and unlike many other Freshlyground music, and has a really upbeat, cool funky vibe. The complexity will make it a challenge to mix and it will set apart those who have talent in mixing from those who don’t.”

Mediatech trade show director, Simon Robinson says, “As a highly respected band, we are really excited to be working with Freshlyground; it elevates the prestige of the competition. This initiative will support aspiring sound engineers and help develop up and coming industry talent. Being able to influence the growth of this industry is important to Mediatech and we are committed to collaborations which inspire, showcase and enhance the standing of those in sound engineering.”

The organisers have stipulated that should someone win the competition and not wish to take up the bursary, they can transfer the prize (not sell it) to someone who qualifies and meets the entrance requirements for the ASE courses on offer. The ASE has campuses in Gauteng and Cape Town and offers part-time courses and skills programmes, as well as full time qualifications. It’s hoped that this proviso will ensure the competition is open to as wide an audience as possible.

In closing Hattingh says that it’s highly unlikely that the sound engineers who enter this competition will have had the opportunity to mix this kind of quality content. “It will give them a glimpse into their future and a preview of what kind of content they could end up working on. The industry is brutal and this kind of exposure and experience will be invaluable to those who choose to enter.”

The final competition mix must be submitted as:
  • A Redbook standard 44.1kHz sample rate and 16-bit depth stereo interleaved .wav file
  • The mix must be un-mastered
  • No MP3's will be accepted
Competition updates will be posted on Mediatech Africa’s social media platforms – including the announcement of the top 8 short list. Terms and Conditions for the competition apply.

Mediatech Africa is on between 17-19 July - register before the 12 July closing date to avoid paying the R100 entrance fee. The show is the largest and only one of its kind on the continent attracting an extensive audience that covers six verticals including: Pro Audio (lighting and staging); Audio Visual Integration; Broadcast (TV & Radio); Studio (Recording – DJ); Digital Media (VOD – OTT); Film & Video (Production).

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