“WE’RE a music country,” Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez said as he spoke to the packed audience at the launch of the Live Music District (LMD). The LMD’s launch was held on Thursday at The Residence, One Woodbrook Place, Woodbrook.
Line minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, Minister of Trade and Industry, Colm Imbert Finance Minister, Edmund Dillon National Security Minister, Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte and Allyson West, Minister in the Ministry of Finance were also in attendance. Martinez described the LMD as a “nice initiative” providing live music throughout the year in the city. “We are a music city and we are a music country. We have an opportunity now to show the world what we have,” he said. The district was one among other initiatives announced by Imbert in the 2018 Budget to develop the creative industries. It was then announced, “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.”
The district will develop in phases with spaces and hotels such as The Residence and The Hyatt Regency, Wrightson Road, hosting the performers. At the launch, MusicTT’s chairman John Arnold said the LMD would start its first phase as a 12-week pilot project from March to June. It will feature 700 performances throughout the district. Phase two, he said, would run from July to December and should feature about 3,000 performances throughout the district.
Arnold added that there would be 30 venues in the first phase including bars, lounges, restaurants and hotels in the Port of Spain area. Each venue is committed to two performances per week.
MusicTT will sponsor the first 20 minutes of each performance. These fees range from $500 for one to two performers, $1,000 for three to five and $1,500 for groups above five performers. Time over 20 minutes will be sponsored by the private sector.
He said Museek, a company specialising in live music platforms and online platforms is assisting MusicTT with the LMD. Museek, he said, sponsored 90 per cent of the cost of initiating the music platform.
All the venues and artistes will be hosted on an online booking platform. Through that platform artistes will be able to upload their bios, photos, and links to their own music on YouTube, SoundCloud and so on.
“Everything is going to be automated including performance contracts. Performing acts can add an unlimited number of users to their account including band members, managers, even their accountants,” Arnold said.
He said closer to the end of March into April the public could download the LMD app which would allow them to see a schedule of the district, access ways of finding the venues and specials being offered by the venues.
After phase one, an evaluation and assessment review will be held, Arnold said. Built into the LMD platform, he added, is an assessment from which would provide metrics on the district's success.
“In phase two we plan to collaborate more, to make it more sustainable by collaborating with FashionTT to create merchandise for the LMD. What we envisage is that this whole LMD will trigger a movement, light a fire in the Port of Spain district,” he added.
Gopee-Scoon in addressing the audience commended CreativeTT and MusicTT for making it a reality. She said, “I am heartened by the overwhelming response by businesses interested in serving as venues.”
The district provides a platform for the creative, including the artiste and entrepreneur, “to hone their skills through the live music circuit.” The initiative, Gopee-Scoon added, has its genesis in the national policy framework of 2015, which was further aligned in National Development Strategy 2016, Vision 2030.
“The creative industries comprise new and emerging economic sectors which are capable of providing substantial opportunities for expansion of business opportunities and achieving global competitiveness. The creative sector is a key component of the diversification thrust of the Government...” she said.
Gopee-Scoon said revenue from the global music industry is estimated at US$15.7 billion and TT must have an increasing stake in that.
The Government, she said, believes the Live Music District holds the potential to concretise the business aspects of the music sector, empowering the independent artiste and building that spirit of entrepreneurship. It is expected that revenue will be generated from economic activity in Port of Spain and environs including ticket sales where applicable, transportation, food and beverages and other income earners.
The LMD saw its first performers in Takeisha Huddlin, Daniel Griffith, Chinaka, Quattro Musica and Tiana Chandler, Adafih Padmore and Cherysh La Touche.