The idea that became the Jamaica Music Conference (JMC) began in 2012 at the University of the West Indies (UWI) as a panel discussion to mark the launch of the Mighty Mizizi Music Company LLC, a project initiated by Kwasi Bonsu and Julian Haffner based on their love of intellectual property law during their time at Howard University Law School. The panel discussion featured a presentation from Sigh Griffin, the U.S. based independent record label owner of Kairizmic Records (now operating as Essentially Dope Records) and Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) chairman, Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts lecturer, and Third World founding member, Ibo Cooper.
In response to the positive reception of the panel discussion, which included an exploration of music publishing, it was decided that the panel discussion be expanded to a music business conference with a primary focus on strengthening Independent Music Professionals (IMP) navigating the Jamaica music industry.
In 2013 the inaugural music conference was staged under the banner, Navigating the Music Industry, at the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts. The conference was co-produced by Production Manager, Kareece Lawrence and featured Reggae legend, Bob Andy, Sound System Legend Rory “Stone Love”, and reggae revival artist, Protoje. It also featured UWI professor, Carolyn Cooper, Reggae journalist and Reggae Film Festival founder, Barbara Blake Hannah, and again, the legendary Ibo Cooper.
The Jamaica Music Conference LLC was officially established by partners Kwasi Osei Bonsu, Esquire, Julian A. Haffner, Esquire, and Sigh Griffin, in 2015. The JMC has now evolved into a four-day conference featuring panel discussions, workshops, artist showcases, a sound clash, and a community service day.
In 2014 the JMC iS guided by three principles embodied by the acronym seeS.E.E. - Service, Education and Entertainment. Service is represented by the JMC Service Day, which kicks of the conference with visits to selected local Jamaican high schools that include garden revitalization projects, music business education, and student performances. Education is represented by the JMC panel discussions and workshops. Entertainment is represented by shining a spotlight on up and coming new artists with showcases and highlighting the sound system culture and business.
IRON SHARPENS IRON
In 2016, Sigh Griffin decided to end his role as a managing member of the JMC to focus on his success as a Hollywood agent. In order to effectively manage its growth, the JMC expanded its management team. The JMC management team now consists of the Artist Launch founder, Music Supervisor and Industry Consultant, Karen Marie Mason; Wally Kings Entertainment founder, Promoter and Marketing Specialist, Wolde “Wally Kings” Phillpotts; Entertainment Attorney and Jamaica based, Nanook founder, Joan Webley, and Production Manager, Kareece Lawrence.
BETTER MUST COME
In 2017 the JMC continues its mission to provide a platform for independent music professionals, to discuss the challenges and opportunities available in the Jamaican music industry, and propose solutions to these challenges, and tools for success. In addition, the JMC provides conference attendees with education, resources, and networking opportunities with established and experienced industry professionals.