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By Mel Cooke—


The fifth annual Jamaica Music Conference takes place from next Thursday (November 9) to Sunday, November 12. While Joan Webley, member of the local conference’s management committee, notes its growth, she is hoping that its impact will extend well beyond four days.

“We are hoping to build a network of independent music professionals who, throughout the year, collaborate and communicate more,” Webley told The Gleaner.

Olivia Babsy Grange

Olivia Babsy Grange

A more immediate desire is to see a larger Jamaican presence at the conference. For while there will be persons from Australia, the UK, the US, and Canada (from where over 20 persons are expected to attend the Jamaica Music Conference 2017), Webley said, “we are not seeing the numbers we should from Jamaica.”

There is a lot to attend over the four days, with 10 events spread across seven locations. Among the individual components of this year’s Jamaica Music Conference are the discussions, ‘Ready for the Road: Effective Packaging of Jamaica’s Entertainment Product for the International Marketplace’ (Allen Johnston and Headline Entertainment’s Jerome Hamilton are panelists); ‘Marketing to the Diaspora and Emerging Markets’ (which Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange will participate in); ‘The Role of Education in the Music Industry’ (in which Owen ‘Blakka’ Ellis and the Alpha Institute’s Andre Adman will participate); and ‘Benefiting from Intellectual Property: Music Streaming 101’ (JACAP’s Paul Barclay is a part of the discussion.

Paul Barclay

Paul Barclay


Copeland Forbes will do a one-on-one session, and there is to be discussion on: ‘Navigating the Noise Abatement Act and the Sound System Summit’, “an examination of the sound system’s role in artiste discovery and a look at whether dubplate pricing is helping or hurting the industry”.

The conference’s showcase at Jamnesia, Bull Bay, St Andrew, will see participants performing to an audience, which includes booking agents.

Joan Webley, part of the Jamaica Music Conference's local management, with Nadine Sutherland, one of the panellists at this year's event.

Joan Webley, part of the Jamaica Music Conference’s local management, with Nadine Sutherland, one of the panellists at this year’s event.

The conference’s theme is ‘Reclaiming Our Identity’ and Webley referred to discussions around a French claim to being the world’s reggae capital about five years ago. However, she is not positioning the conference as part of a battle to lay claim to the reggae heavyweight title, but a contribution to the development of Jamaican music. So “it is not who is doing what” which counts as much as “what we are doing and what we need to do.

“One of the things that kept coming up was better communication between the diaspora and the local,” Webley said.

Describing the Jamaica Music Conference’s fifth staging as a “landmark”, Webley said those involved in the country’s popular music “are everywhere, but we do not know it – and we must know”.

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