Playing The Global Music Industry - Articulation Of A Vision
Written by Simeon L. Sandiford
Thursday, 21 July 2011 22:06


Culture Is An Intrinsic Component Of The Soul Of Any Society And Related Artifacts Must Be Used As Critical Elements Of Trade Between Countries.

EMI, Sony, Universal, and Warner – the global music industry has indeed shrunk to these Big Four Entertainment Giants. In reducing our dependency on the energy sector, I am of the firm belief that we have to develop innovative ways of creating unique products that would be competitive in the international arena. Indeed, the financial future of Trinidad and Tobago, and by extension the entire Caribbean, lies in harnessing, promoting and marketing its culture, of which the main economic source is music. It follows, therefore, that we should be aggressively seeking ways of forming business alliances with The Big Four in an effort to establish a sustainable market for our cultural heritage.

As we chart the way forward, the need to place emphasis on developing strategies that would build awareness for, and ensure universal acceptance of our diverse culture, should be apparent. Our mission, therefore, should be to unearth, develop and harness entrepreneurial talent, which would eventually become the infrastructure for a sustainable music industry. In order to do this, I have conceptualised a strategic plan, the main elements of which are summarized, as follows:

  • Collection. By institutionally strengthening the Copyright Organization of Trinidad and Tobago, one would ensure that royalties due to composers, publishers, arrangers, producers and performers are collected and disseminated on a timely basis. This is especially important, since an increasing number of World Carnivals rely heavily on our music for their own recognition and success.
  • Production. Our local music industry needs to pay more attention to the quality of its repertoire. Emphasis must be placed on the manufacture of innovative products that would create a visceral impact on the international marketplace. Unfortunately, piracy has become almost a necessary evil in our society, resulting in producers and artistes being afraid to invest time or money in recordings of any substance. There is no quick fix to this problem. One solution is to develop a clientele that would insist on purchasing the genuine article. This takes time.
  • Marketing. Unity is strength. The entire repertoire of the music industry of Trinidad and Tobago should, therefore, be marketed under one umbrella company (jointly owned by the private and public sectors). An integral part of this exercise would be the exhuming, resurrection and dissemination of our back catalogue, which is inarguably, more palatable and palpable than our current fare.
  • Services. The industry needs to identify a number of ancillary services to become foreign exchange earners. Archive Restoration, Mastering, Publishing, Song writing, Steelpan Crafting, Animation and Graphic Design are areas in which entrepreneurial skills need to be developed, to support the main thrust, which is recording and production of material for commercial exploitation.
  • Competitiveness. Our music industry needs to become and remain globally competitive. Continuing music- literacy education, training and apprenticeship programmes; strengthening the enabling environment, provision of fiscal incentives and easy access to working capital are some examples of strategies, which ought to be identified and implemented so as to achieve this objective.

Pan in Education is the first of a series of unique, innovative, feature-packed, cost-effective, timeless cultural products, conceptualised by citizens of Trinidad and Tobago with the prime objective of playing in the global marketplace. I am grateful to the Ministry of Education and bpTT Corporation for supporting this exercise. Their investment has enabled the executive producers to offset a substantial portion of the capital expenditure needed for such an undertaking. In addition to reducing the risk of losses due to piracy, this gesture will allow surplus funds to be channelled into a programme of international marketing, advertising and promotion of the project.

Relevant Government and quasi -Government agencies along with the Export Sector, Commonwealth Secretariat, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as multinational conglomerates operating in Trinidad and Tobago could assist in building global awareness for Pan in Education. This would contribute significantly towards strengthening our negotiating power with the Big Four in an effort to create an international niche market for this exciting new cultural product.

Success depends on a united, concerted effort by all.

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Simeon L. Sandiford