Photo caption: Senator the Honourable Paula Gopee-Scoon delivering her feature address.
On the evening of Monday 30th October, Senator the Honourable, Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Trade and Industry, delivered her feature address to a hushed but excited audience at Queen’s Hall. Sporadic applause broke through the silence as music stakeholders showed their support for the solutions being presented to the issues that they have been facing for many years.
The Minister highlighted and described MusicTT’s four flagship projects: Live Music District; Artist Portfolio Development Programme; Music Export Academy and Music Tech Platform.
Live Music District: The City of Port of Spain has been airmarked to be the pilot for Trinidad and Tobago’s first Live Music District. Various areas have been targeted to create live performance spaces and revenue influx, including Ariapita Avenue and Queen’s Park Savannah. The pilot of the Live Music District is set to launch on March 1st, 2018, deliberately after the carnival season which already boasts of a robust, organic live-music model.
Stakeholders cheered at the presentation of this project as it was a direct solution to the issue of limited performance opportunities, especially outside of the Carnival season. The Live Music District will also provide an outlet for local music outside of carnival-centric, indigenous genres to be heard. Though some came to the event concerned as to whether their genre of music will be accepted, their fears were laid to rest as it was stated ALL genres will have a place to play at the Live Music District.
Photo Caption: Freetown Collective, performing live at the Stakeholder Engagement.
Artist Portfolio Development Programme: Stakeholders were pleased to learn that artists selected into this programme will benefit from specific export training that will boost their careers. Training areas include music business and entertainment law training, brand and artist development, stage presence and performance training, pitching strategies, developing business and marketing plans, developing a robust online presence, and monetizing music intellectual property, based on the artists’ needs. One stakeholder commented that this customized training can help local artists make a proper living from their talents and commended the Minister and MusicTT on addressing these shortcomings.
The Artist Portfolio Development Programme will begin in December this year with its first stage, a public Music Showcase. This Showcase will identify ten to twenty artists who are close to export readiness and provide them with customized capacity development training to take them to the next level in their careers.
Music Export Academy: Every year international, independent industry executives will choose cohorts for the training process from the Music Showcase. Stakeholders expressed their appreciation for the transparent, objective way in which the cohorts would be chosen as some previously had concerns about the selection process.
Although the focus will be on the chosen cohort for targeted development, the workshops within the academy will be available to the wider music industry as the successful export of local music products is one of MusicTT’s main goals.
Music Tech Platform: The Music Tech Platform is expected to perform two major functions for the music industry:
- The Platform will be an online hub that contains a range of music-related resources including performance venues and booking opportunities of the Live Music district (and the nation as a whole), as well as service providers, educational tools, government resources and funding, studios, copyright management organisations, publishers, labels, distributors, and digital aggregators. It will contain everything stakeholders need to know, and everywhere they need to go, to assist them in building their careers in music and music business. Stakeholders agreed that a knowledge platform for anyone seeking information and resources on the local music industry was definitely needed.
- The Platform will give music-management power to the independent, entrepreneurial artist by providing him/her with detailed access to every instance that their music is broadcast on our nation’s airwaves. The artist will be able to upload their catalogues and have them audio-fingerprinted to track airtime play. The Platform will be capable of independently monitoring broadcast media in order to determine the amount of local content currently being played on our radio stations. This function particularly interested the stakeholders as they reacted with a hearty round of applause.
Jeanelle Frontin, General Manager of MusicTT, followed by providing timelines and expected outcomes for the four flagship projects. She further emphasized the need for everyone to work together to achieve industry success, “We aren’t doing this alone. We are doing this collaboratively with the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts and the city of Port of Spain. We are not working in a silo anymore. We are all going to work together to ensure that this music industry becomes more successful.”
Photo Caption: Jeanelle Frontin, General Manager of MusicTT, addressing the music stakeholders.
Both presentations concluded to applause by and support from the audience. Stakeholders took to the mic, presenting queries and concerns while still expressing the excitement and hope for the local music industry through the implementation of these projects. The panel of music industry professionals, consisting of Ms. Jeanelle Frontin, Mr. John Arnold, Chairman of MusicTT, Mr. Francis Escayg and Mr. Martin Raymond, Directors on the MusicTT board, provided answers to as many of the questions that were voiced that day.
Photo Caption: John Arnold, MusicTT Chairman and Jeanelle Frontin answering the tough questions during the panel discussion.
One stakeholder, Errol Bailey, expressed his delight with the projects, expounding that he was looking forward to their implementation and execution over the next few years. Another stakeholder exclaimed during the Q&A Segment that MusicTT and the Government seems to finally be “getting it right” and there is hope for the local music industry.
These projects will be major game changers for the local music industry as they will address existing gaps within the sector; from limited access to music spaces to limited access to information. Each project will focus on creating opportunities for stakeholders while also generating wealth for the country through job creation, capacity and business development and increase in tourism.
Photos courtesy Epidemic Studios.