THE stage is now set for the Jamaica Music Conference which kicks off in the Corporate Area on Thursday and runs until Sunday.
According to coordinator Joan Webley, all is in place for the three-day event, which includes panel discussions, one-on-one sessions with local and international music industry executives, as well as live entertainment and networking opportunities.
“We are all extremely excited about the amazing and talented set of international and local panellists that we have brought together for this our fifth annual staging of the Jamaica Music Conference. It's a really strong and impressive set that is coming together to share their vast knowledge of the music industry. There is something for everyone... just decide what you want out of the conference and there is something for you,” Webley told the Jamaica Observer.
One of the events of which the coordinator is extremely proud is the Clean Clash. This event takes place this Friday at House of Dancehall in St Andrew. As the event name suggests, selectors are required to keep their music and language clean. The event will be hosted by Jack Scorpio and will feature popular local sounds King Addies, Nexxt Level, and Caveman alongside Revolution and Selassie I sounds out of the United States. The clash will feature three themed rounds — Salute the Queens, Buss A New Artiste and Big Guns (dubs) only.
“It is critical that we support and pay attention to our sound system culture in Jamaica. Like so many other things, we have created it and given this to the world. It is flourishing elsewhere and dying here in Jamaica. This conference is really a link up and collaboration between Jamaican music interests and the Diaspora, and this clash represents that. It is being organised by Impulse Nation out of the US, and so we see a mix of local and international sounds,” Webley explained.
Webley is upbeat regarding the level of interest being expressed from the local entertainment fraternity, noting that in the past few days there has been an increase in the calls and communication.
However, she is bemoaning the lack of corporate sponsorship for a conference focussing on music, something for which Jamaica is known globally.
“There is a traditional disconnect between the music industry and corporate Jamaica. It is slowly changing as we are seeing local acts endorsing local products, but it needs to be taken a step further. We all have to work to firm up the local industry and, in recent years, we are seeing growth, and that is what this conference seeks to foster — that long-term development of the fraternity. When you can have 40 music execs coming together in an industry where persons are said not to get along, then that is growth,” said Webley.
The panel discussions begin on Friday at Jampro's offices in New Kingston. Among the topics are 'Packaging Jamaica's entertainment product for the international market'. Panellists will include Karen Clarke, Omar Stephenson, Karen Mason, and Ronnie Burke. The second panel discussion will focus on marketing to the Diaspora and emerging markets, while the third session will look at the role of education in the music industry.
The sessions move to the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in St Andrew with other panel discussion and networking opportunities.
The University of Technology, Jamaica is the location for Saturday's panel discussions. Among the topics are 'Music as an agent for social change', 'Music streaming and intellectual property rights', and 'Effective touring strategies'.
On Sunday, the conference moves to Boardwalk Beach in Portmore where, in addition to networking opportunities, the participants can hear from panels discussing the essentials of artiste management, the global impact of Jamaican music, and an interview with music insider Copeland Forbes.
BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter