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CDB funding Caribbean music sector development

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — The Caribbean region is known and celebrated for reggae and dancehall, soca, zouk and other genres. Yet many regional artistes, performers, their managers and publishers do not earn a sustainable living from their craft. The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), noting the challenges facing the region’s music sector and affirming its support for the creative industries, has committed funding for a workshop series designed for Caribbean music sector stakeholders.

The Business of Music in the Caribbean developmental workshops will run throughout 2016, and aim to improve participants’ skills in the business aspects of the music sector.

“The music sector presents several opportunities for sustainable, inclusive economic growth and diversification in the Caribbean. CDB’s investment in this workshop series brings our Region even closer to unlocking the economic potential of the sector, and gives participants a better chance to build sustainable livelihoods from the music business,” said Edward Greene, Division Chief, Technical Cooperation Division, CDB.

The seminar schedule covers

• Fundamentals of the Business of Music: June 29 – July 1, 2016;
• Managing Negotiations and Contracts in Music: August 15-17, 2016; and
• Accessing International Markets: September 30 – November 4, 2016.

The learning events are being piloted in Barbados, and will be replicated in Belize, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago — selected based on their potential for export earnings from the music sector.

Women in Music

A Women in Music workshop kicked off the series in Barbados on May 13. Twenty-six participants attended the one-day event, which highlighted the issues affecting women’s participation in the music sector, and how to address them. Data from the Association of Caribbean Copyright Societies (ACCS) suggest only three out every ten participants in the music sector are women. The majority of these women are performers, and few engage in the more lucrative areas such as publishing, songwriting and production.

Jessica Sobhraj, president of Women in Music and a music industry expert, delivered the main presentation in which she discussed global music industry data and trends; gender diversity in the industry; and monetization strategies and business models in music. Sobhraj also shared practical ways for women to overcome challenges in the industry.

Participants take time to network during the Women in Music Workshop in Barbados.

“Jessica Sobhraj emphasized the importance of having publishing and executive producer power as a woman, to make returns off the music that we have a hand in creating,” said singer and songwriter, Ayana John.

Ebonnie Rowe, concert and workshop producer, added that the workshop taught her about new online platforms that exist for artists to promote their work.

“Participation in the workshop helped me in my music career by giving me a broader knowledge base from which to operate and advise the artists I work with,” she noted.

“Having a room of women in the music industry in Barbados, and having an open discussion of issues we face and coming up with solutions as a group, was the best feeling ever,” said Akasha Kunar, a singer and songwriter.

Onika Best, professional drummer, added: “The workshop helped me in my music career because it made me mindful of the things that I must do to stay on top of my game.”

The workshop was funded by CDB and hosted by ACCS, in partnership with the Copyright Society of Composers, Authors and Producers (COSCAP).

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