Making TT artistes export-ready

Overdrive is MusicTT’s official backing band for artistes participating in today’s MusicTT’s showcase at Tzar on Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook.
Overdrive is MusicTT’s official backing band for artistes participating in today’s MusicTT’s showcase at Tzar on Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook.

As plans to grow and develop TT’s creative sector materialise, MusicTT through its parent company, CreativeTT will be hosting its first showcase for local artistes.

The showcase is scheduled to take place today at Tzar, Ariapita Avenue from 4 pm to 10 pm.

MusicTT’s general manager Jeanelle Frontin said on Thursday this is set to be an annual event. When Newsday contacted Frontin, in giving some background on the showcase, she said, “This is a part of project called the Artiste Portfolio Development Programme. This portfolio of artists, we plan to choose, will be considered to be on the cusp of export readiness, meaning these artists or acts will probably need to refine a few skills to penetrate the global market. In order to determine, this portfolio of artists, MusicTT began the process by doing a national music showcase which had three distinct stages.”

The first stage, she said, involved an expression of interest [some 250 submissions were received through the EOI] as well as the submission of detailed information, including, ensuring that interested applicants were TT citizens.

The second stage was conducted by a screening panel composed of Jason Dasent of DiscoverMe, Nigel Campbell of Jazz Artists on the Greens, Carl Jacobs of Kaiso Blues Cafe, Patrice Millien of the Uncovered Series as well as a dedicated Tobago screening panel. Video auditions were evaluated by these platforms and out of the 80 received, the acts which scored above the minimum threshold score of 70 graduated to the third stage of the process, Frontin added.

Jennifer Hyland, senior manager TV & Film Licensing, Universal Music Canada will be one of the international judges at today’s showcase.

“This third stage managed by our musical director, Jason Dasent of DiscoverMe, involved in-studio sound checks, vocal training as well as practise with the band Overdrive [MusicTT’s official backing band for the showcase] and some acts will also use their own tracks or band. Eighty per cent of the performing acts will be performing their own original music.”

The showcase will feature a panel of international judges with Jill Pedone, head of All Creative Licensing, Label/Publishing, Lava Music Group; Marcus Spence, Mosley Music Group; Jennifer Hyland, senior manager TV and Film Licensing, Universal Music Canada; Sean Mulligan, VP creative, Entertainment One Music Publishing and Kosine, half of the Los Angeles-based production duo Da Internz.

Frontin said, “This panel has been brought on to evaluate, the acts they see perform on stage today, which among them, of their view, is ready to hit the international stage. This will not mean that the other acts do not have the potential for export readiness, only that they perhaps need a bit more development. The international panel’s role is to provide a customised assessment of each act performing and to indicate to us what types of training we should do in our Music Export Academy to refine them to the place where A and R music publishers and producers, such as themselves, would be ready and willing to do international music business with them.”

When asked how the international panel was chosen, Frontin said two of the panellists, Mulligan and Spence, were a part of its 2015 music publishing workshop and, through them, connections were made to the rest of the panel.

Kosine, half of the Los Angeles-based production duo Da Internz will also be an international judge at today’s MusicTT showcase.

In terms of cost, Frontin was unable to say how much the showcase cost but, she said, “Jason Dasent of DiscoverMe sponsored all of the studio hours and musical directing and the entire international panel choose not to charge us a fee to be here. Everyone’s heart is in the right place.”

Although only probably about ten people might be chosen, Frontin said, MusicTT reserved the right to widen the portfolio even if the international panel does not choose enough for it. That number could change, she said.

After the showcase, the top participants would train for about six months. What training would be done would depend on the acts’ particular needs.

In this year’s budget, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced the development of TT’s creative industry through initiatives such as the Artiste Portfolio Development Programme.

The budget statement then said, “In the music sector, we will implement an Artiste Portfolio Development Programme which will support artistes who are on the verge of becoming export ready by leveraging their creative talents on the worldwide market. An Export Ready Academy will assist local artistes with producing, marketing and exporting their music. The establishment of a Live Music District, similar to other international music districts, will provide the appropriate space for live music and other musical activities year-round.”

Asked about when the live music district is expected to begin, Frontin said, it is expected to begin on March 1 next year. She said its second stage applicants were told that they should keep in touch with MusicTT because “the road with them is not over” as the organisation is interested in performers for its Live Music District. When asked how it will run, she said the business model of that is still being assessed but that over 60 venues were given sound and entertainment assessments. The Live Music District has been defined Port of Spain.

Several groups expressed interest in the Live Music District among them the Copyright Music Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago (COTT).


"Making TT artistes export-ready"

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