CIIF Digitization of Music Accelerator Programme a success!

Guyanese entrepreneur and recording artist Martin Massiah is the recipient of a US$10,000 Grant to help bring the winning marketing plan for his business to life.

The announcement was made yesterday morning during the virtual closing ceremony of the Digitization of Music Accelerator Programme, which was funded by the Cultural and Creative Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF) of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). At the end of the training programme, each of the 21 participants submitted a marketing plan, and after deliberation, Massiah’s emerged as the winner.

In making their decision, the panel of judges, led by Derek Wilkie, Managing Director, SIGN UP INC., considered the layout, ease of reading; budget outlays and timelines; the digital marketing tools for fan engagement and growth, and whether or not the plan was executable. Two other marketing plans, those submitted by Burchmore Simon and Sherwin Brice, were commended by the panel.

The marketing plans were created following a 21-day training programme held from September-November 2021 and implemented by Export Barbados (BIDC) with support from project partners, Compete Caribbean and Caribbean Export Development Agency.

Chief Executive Officer of Export Barbados, Mark Hill, delivering opening remarks, said that he was pleased with the regional collaboration that augers well for the cultural industries and intra-regional trade. “We have started discussions with several of our Caribbean neighbours and are already making plans to grow our exports through closer collaborations. More cross-border capacity building programs like these are needed to grow the talent that we have hidden in the region.”

In her remarks, Malene Joseph, Consulting Project Coordinator at the CDB, expressed that CIIF was especially pleased to collaborate to deliver the capacity-building intervention for the music subsector. Ms. Joseph revealed that through the Accelerator Grant Scheme, CIIF awarded US $50,000 towards the implementation of the programme, as she said that they are committed to not only strengthening capacity but facilitating access to the market by embodying their three guiding pillars – innovation, collaboration, and sustainability.

Adding to her comments, Allyson Francis, Services Specialist, Caribbean Export Development Agency, said it was long overdue while commending the regional music industry for pivoting as it has since the onset of COVID.

She stated, “At Caribbean Export, we do understand the importance of the music sector and the revenue that can be gained from the music sector, [and] how it affects the economies in so many ways. We believe that the cultural and creative industries are actually one of the major sectors that can help with the revitalization of our economies”.

Joining the ceremony from Germany, Maria Schaefer, Advisor, German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), also spoke of the service sector’s crucial role in CARIFORUM economies. She noted that the creative industries are recognised as one of the region’s most emerging and innovative sectors, adding that promoting the development of the creative industries in the Caribbean will contribute to more regional economic diversification and accelerate economic recovery.

Ms. Schaefer continued, “Music as part of the creative industry sector provides an excellent opportunity for Caribbean entrepreneurs to reach out to new customers, particularly the EU. Being the first comprehensive EPA [Economic Partnership Agreement] also embracing services, the CARIFORUM/EU EPA improved the conditions for previous service providers to tap into the EU markets”.

Consultant at Compete Caribbean, Shivonne Johnson, further noted that upskilling and enabling environments for the creative industry and creating connections are very important.

“It remains our key focus at Compete to support innovation in the Caribbean region, and we see that the creative economy is an integral driver at this time for the improvement of the economy, export potential, job creation, improved opportunities for women and the youth, as well as a sustainable sector for development during this pandemic”.

Meanwhile, sharing their thoughts on the training programme, participants Burchmore Simon and Eugene Gittens applauded the organizers for the initiative, noting that it has the potential to benefit their companies and develop their respective local music industries and the regional industry.

The Digitization of Music Accelerator Programme was open to stakeholders in the Caribbean music industry, such as artists, performers, labels and producers, whose businesses are registered in one of the CARICOM member states.