Music is entertainment and art, but one need only look at the huge sums artists from the surrounding region rake in from concerts, television appearances and endorsements to recognize that it is also a business. While Belize has several established music acts that make a decent living it is not nearly enough to be sustainable. Artists and associates of the industry are joining together to change that, with a week-long seminar discussing the business of Belizean music. For more we spoke to performer and Creative Arts Development Officer at the Institute of Creative Arts, Jackie Castillo.
“So NICH is supporting an 18 month program. The program is a music and entertainment development initiative. What we are trying to establish here is we are trying to do a rapid assessment of where our music and entertainment industry is because the whole ecosystem of the music involves several things; it involves promoters, managers, booking agents, artist, media, government personnel and business support organizations. We did a rapid assessment to kind of get an idea from everybody where we are. and what are some of the things we really need to focus on. Since that was done earlier in April, we have a consultant, Lloyd Stanbury, he is an entertainment lawyer and he is also a music business consultant. Basically, the nest four days, we are going to be sitting down and having a conversation and looking at these roles critically and educating everyone about exactly what needs to be put together so that everything can marry each other and we can see an industry that is moving forward.”
Consultant and entertainment attorney Lloyd Stanbury discussed some of the pitfalls of the current set-up of the industry with a captive but small audience at the House of Culture.
”Deleveraging a high level of creativity and diversity in Belizean Music, that needs to be taken advantage of. It needs to be nurtured and enhanced. There definitely is a high level of creativity and diversity in the music that exists in Belize. In my view, Belize is also geographically and culturally well placed in the Caribbean and Latin America because of the very nature of the community, being one of the only, if not the only, community in the region that has almost a half Spanish speaking half English speaking population and also placed in an ideal location to be a bridge between the English and Spanish speaking Caribbean. I think that is a significant advantage that needs to be capitalized on.”
From the artists’ perspective, performer Blakberry says Belizeans appreciate the local talent, but there is less love from the promoters and DJ’s who make them play second fiddle to superstar international performers.
“To be very honest, I think there is a lot of appreciation. Like I said, I talk on my behalf but for this I am going outside and speak for the artists. I think there is a lot of appreciation for my music , of which I appreciate from the fans. Belize is still young. There are some Belizean artist that do music but don’t do it on a professional level and if you don’t do it on a level that people is use to hearing or people are use to accepting, then it will be hard for yours to be accepted. When it comes to the appreciation of music in Belize, I think people are getting there. Belize is a small nation and we are building. It is just foot at a time – one step at a time. Everybody out there that has a big music thing going on; Jamaica, Europe, Canada, America, they are doing it a long, long time. Belize is just really starting, we are just maturing in it. We wish that Belizeans would appreciate us like they appreciate the outsiders but it all comes down to what they hear and what they are use to on a daily basis. It you play my song four times on the radio for the day and you play Jah Cure or Alkaline twenty times for the day; if I have a show and Jah Cure or Alkaline has a show, their shows will be sold out automatically because that is what they are use to.”
Today’s seminar was free and open to the public. Two closed sessions with a more concentrated group of industry stakeholders will take place on Friday.