Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Rosalea Hamilton | Coaching for gold in our music industry

Published:Thursday | August 11, 2016 | 8:00 AM

Starting August 12, 2016, Jamaican athletes will again be on the Olympic world stage where the outcomes of years of coaching will be on display. Jamaicans will revel in the joy of victory and beam with national pride when the world acknowledges our athletic prowess by adorning our athletes with gold medals. In the frenzy of excitement and national ecstasy, few Jamaicans will remember or acknowledge what it takes to achieve gold - the outstanding coaching, the rigorous training, often from a tender age, the firm discipline, and commitment to treating sport as an international business with a product. As we confront the myriad problems facing Jamaica, what if these winning ingredients were applied in other sectors in which we wanted to achieve or maintain global success and dominance?

Like our athletes, Jamaican musicians have experienced global success. However, over the recent past, some of our musicians seemed to have become mired in controversy around negative lyrics perceived as promoting violence, hate, discrimination and homophobia. In some markets, dancehall music is no longer welcome. This translates to loss of earnings for artistes and their families, as well as of foreign-exchange earnings that we desperately need to improve our balance of payments and turn around our economy.

Well-known music producer Mikie Bennett, who estimates that income from performance is down by 70 per cent compared to 10 years ago, notes that "Too many young artistes armed with a popular song find themselves on big stages without the coaching necessary to make the kind of first impression that will satisfy fans and promote their brand. Even more, never get a second chance." In this context, especially now as we catch the Brazilian Olympic fever, are our musicians willing to develop the skills needed to maintain success on the world stage?

 

TESTED AND PROVEN

 

The application of the winning ingredients required for global success in sports has been demonstrated and tested at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), in collaboration with the MVP Track & Field Club. In fact, Bruce James, president, MVP Track & Field Club, has produced a Jamaican Sports Model Prototype, as part of a Sport Entrepreneurship Project funded by the Inter-American Development Bank and executed by UTech, from 2012 to 2014. The Sports Model Building Blocks include the key resources of coaches, as well as key training activities and partnerships required for global success.

UTech is again applying these winning ingredients to another sector, this time the music industry. Tomorrow, the university's Fi Wi Jamaica project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will roll out its Masters-In-Residence (MIR) Global Competitiveness Training Programme. The one-year training programme will lean on the expertise of Jamaican, as well as international 'masters' in the music industry to provide coaching to members of the music fraternity with a view to strengthening their skills to negotiate their craft in a global market. The MIR programme defines a 'master' as a person eminently skilled in the art, creation and production of Jamaican music, and whose contributions are recognised by peers as best practices, artistic paradigms and models of excellence. The reliance on the expertise of such masters replicates the culture of coaching that has mined gold among our athletes.

 

FOCUS OF THE MIR

 

Applying core elements of coaching, mentorship and entrepreneurship, the MIR programme focuses on: (1) understanding the challenges and opportunities in the Jamaican and international music industry; and (2) building the technical competencies for penetrating the global music market. Targeting young Jamaicans in the music business, the programme seeks to develop not only the required technical skills to effectively compete on the international stage, but also to foster dialogue about the importance and benefits of repositioning Jamaican popular music as a positive and progressive musical genre. The MIR programme targets songwriters, performers, sound engineers, producers and managers.

This investment in strengthening human and social capital in the music industry is essential for productivity growth and

global competitiveness. Recent analysis using data collected during the 2014-16 Scotiabank Enterprise-Wide Risk Manage-ment and Financing project suggest that productivity in the creative industries will tend to grow by 62 per cent of whatever growth can be achieved in the capital-labour ratio of the creative industries. This is the highest growth response compared to other industries in Jamaica. This

is very significant in the context of low and/or declining productivity across all industries in Jamaica over the past few decades.

So let's start coaching for gold in our music industry.

• Rosalea Hamilton, PhD, is project director, Fi Wi Jamaica Project; Scotiabank chair, Entrepreneurship & Development, University of Technology, Jamaica. Email: rhsermaf@gmail.com; scotiabankchair@gmail.com