Last week Nando’s Music Exchange opened up to more music fans than ever with a talk at Nando’s King’s Cross hosted by BBC Radio 1xtra’s Sian Anderson and debating ‘Is real collaboration dead?’

With 2018 cited as the year collaborations dominate the music charts, up for discussion was the big business of musical partnerships – including how collaboration provides opportunity for emerging artists, and whether it is driving greater music diversity or homogenising global sounds.

Fanning the flames of conversation was BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Sian Anderson who hosted special guests AJ Tracey, Example and talent from Reprezent Radio for PERi-PERi chicken and chats.

The event rounded off the fourth year of Nando’s Music Exchange workshop. This year’s programme will see Nando’s bring 38 emerging musicians from Canada, South Africa, Australia and around the UK together in London. Participants will be mentored across four days by four global artists: Lethal Bizzle, Sho Madjozi, Tkay Maidza and Nathaniel Motte, and will be tasked with producing a track from scratch at the Roundhouse Young Creatives studio in Camden.

If you didn’t catch the panel do not fear, below we have listed five things we learnt…

The best collaborations can happen in the unlikeliest of places.

Example stated how he loves playing in the “untapped markets” such as eastern Europe “You have no idea who is on before you or after you, you just meet backstage and start to work together” but it’s not all smooth sailing he says “In China I went to collaborate with an artist I’d met, but when I opened logic and went into the drop down menu it was all in Mandarin… so that’s where collaboration becomes interesting”.


When Chris Martin contacts you, you best believe it’s Chris Martin contacting you.

One of the most intriguing collaborations we heard about is one between panellist Sho Madjozi and Coldplay’s Chris Martin “When he emailed me asking to meet I thought it was his people, so when we eventually met up and he asked me in person to work with him I thought it was a prank or something so I kind of said ‘no, I’m busy’.” Luckily it seems our Chris doesn’t take no for an answer and they have a single coming out in July!


We should all pay more attention to the music coming out of Africa.

So much of what we listen to and digest in popular music has its roots in African culture and it seems finally we’re starting to talk about it. Sho said “It’s the crazy thing about the global nature of music. Now it’s cool to be African and now it’s cool to make African sounds and it seems to be catching on faster than anyone expected.” AJ Tracey added “My country is beautiful and yours is too, don’t listen to what the media try and tell you – they try and make it look like it’s dark and struggling but it’s not.” Credit where credit is due!


Collaboration = Networking

Brand expert Nel spoke about how collaboration has been very organic for her “As a fan of music growing up, I see it as a cultural club scene. I met my friends and the people I work with in clubs in London that we used to go to regularly and so for me collaboration is the people you meet. You’re a network regardless of whether you think it or not.” Example added “You meet someone and you click with their energy and it could be a week later or 6 years later but you know something’s going to happen.”


It could be easier or harder to collaborate in 2018, we’re not quite sure…

With so much choice in the way we communicate in 2018 it’s only natural that there are pro’s and con’s across the board, making a clear path to success that little bit harder! When speaking about networking Example commented “It’s easier because of the online spaces” i.e. social media and Soundcloud but Nel argued “I think it’s actually harder now because of a lot of spaces to physically meet and collaborate are closing down”. Both valid points! Can social media ever really replace youth clubs and networking spaces or will those spaces reemerge as big brands such as Nando’s continue to value and support the creative community? We’ll have to wait and see.


Nando’s Music Exchange takes place every year, find out more here