Music Industry Stakeholders Discuss Key Elements for Strategic Development – Part 1

With an abundance of musical talent and innovation in Trinidad and Tobago, it’s no surprise that some of our very own have gained international acclaim. Surely, many artistes in our nation have the potential to do the same and more.

At MusicTT’s recently held stakeholder engagement session for the development of a national strategic action plan for the local music industry, hip-hop artiste Da Face stated that many artistes still have regular full-time jobs because they cannot survive on returns from their music career alone. MusicTT and Sound Diplomacy, the UK-based firm selected to spearhead the development of the music industry’s five-year strategic action plan, will seek to ensure that local musicians earn the deserved opportunities to progress and have prosperous careers in a thriving industry.

Da Face at MusicTT’s Stakeholder Engagement Session

For this to happen, General Manager of MusicTT, Jeanelle Frontin, outlined some of the key issues facing the industry that will be spotlighted in the development of the strategic plan: sustainability, export, state-of-the-art sound studio, capacity development especially in music business, local content quota considerations and business incubators/investment opportunities. The goal is to make the local music industry commercially viable in the long-term.

In this two-part series, MusicTT addresses some of these elements which were raised at the Stakeholder Engagement Session held on 1st October, 2016 and explains their place within this strategic initiative.

Panel from (l-r): Paloma Medina, Research Manager (Music Cities) at Sound Diplomacy, Sian Evans, Head of Global Operations at Sound Diplomacy, Martin Elbourne, Member of Advisory Board of Sound Diplomacy and Jeanelle Frontin, General Manager of MusicTT

Sound Studios

Is MusicTT lobbying for a sound studio and/or is there a plan for an industry standard studio where musicians can track and record world class records for foreign export and market?

Part of the tender document that was released in the Request for Proposals for this strategic initiative specifically instructed that an evaluation must be conducted regarding the development of an industry-standard sound studio, the last of which was Caribbean Sound Basin.

Capacity Development

Does MusicTT offer business development courses for musicians?

To be marketable to an international audience, the musical products coming from Trinbagonians must be export-ready and able to achieve longevity in a globally competitive industry. MusicTT is tasked with stimulating and facilitating the business development and export activity of the music industry in Trinidad and Tobago and to do this, there must be readily available educational opportunities for persons in the music industry to perfect their crafts.

As such, MusicTT has conducted workshops that have been free to the public to attend and benefit. The topics have included Publishing, Production, Songwriting, Mixing, Mastering, and Intellectual Property. All of these were taped and distributed as a series of webisodes which become available every week on MusicTT’s social media. They can also be accessed at the Resources section of the company’s website.

While budget allocations may not allow for too many capacity development workshops in this fiscal year, the repeated need for such knowledge on artist management and branding has been noted and will still have the company’s focus. For example, there are plans to host a workshop dedicated to understanding the art of calypso and how Calypso Rose has the first Gold album from our country. Evaluating the calypso veteran’s international success can surely teach other artistes as well as the governing bodies what works and what doesn’t work in attempting to penetrate foreign markets.

MusicTT's Resources page

What is the role of music education in ensuring that there is improvement in all aspects of the music industry, especially the quality of music?

Regarding the role of music education, we believe that this should start in the primary/ secondary schools. Plans are underway to engage the Ministry of Education regarding teaching music business with music in schools. At the tertiary level, UTT is currently reviewing its offerings in order to cater for this great need as well.

What is in place for our older artistes who are heading into retirement? Is there any guidance as to how to manage their finances?

Regarding older artists, there is currently no such process in place from MusicTT but this recommendation will definitely be added into the strategic initiative research.

Local Content Quota Policies

What is your organization’s approach or lobbying strategies to government, if any, to get some percentage of local artistes’ music played on radio stations?

This has been a controversial issue for a long time, that is, radio broadcasters play more foreign music than local on the airwaves. We are aware that there are some broadcasters that do support local heavily, but we also know there is a great need for improvement as we all must play our part to build our local music industry.

Local content quotas, policies and incentives are definitely being explored and the conversation is being re-opened. The strategic plan will be examining this in depth and creating solutions that can be actioned to monitor and improve the percentage of local content to be played over the airways.

Business Incubators

When will (MusicTT) set up an incubator business model for upcoming artistes and composers, producers et al?

The Artist Portfolio Development Programme is an incubator business model that will be a major part of the strategic plan. It is a medium to long-term pilot programme which aims to create a strong, balanced portfolio of artists to be readied for international export.

An independent, international, expert panel will be set up to collaborate strongly with MusicTT in order to transparently select those musical artists to be a part of the APDP every year. The aim is to groom, artistes into export-ready products that will generate clear revenue streams in the form of job creation, trade of local music products internationally and increases in GDP contribution from the leveraging and exploitation of music intellectual property. Though this investment programme will have a return to Trinidad and Tobago of a small percentage, none of the royalties of the artists in the programme will be touched.


Part two of this article will be posted on 29th December, 2016.