Montano pushing for a soca industry

Even in the absence of a well constituted body to represent local entertainers and their interest, reigning International Power and Groovy Soca Monarch Machel Montano is awash with optimism about T&T’s ability to effect long awaited systems and policies to achieve an entertainment industry–Sean Nero reports in this article for Trinidad’s Guardian.

And despite the glaring lack of cohesion among the principals, who trade their talent to create a livelihood for themselves and their families, he believes that this country’s soca music genre will ultimately rush past reggae and dancehall to become the sound of the Caribbean.

Montano said, “We have been distracted by the oil and the gas and we are primarily an energy country. Look in the mirror. Let us constantly be our greatest critics. Let us constantly analyse where we are at and be honest. “This is something I wanted to say because I am a person who is always positively dissatisfied, meaning that I am constantly improving my product and I want to do that until the day I die, because it is who I am—to become a higher expression of who I am.”

Montano was speaking during a panel discussion at Tuesday’s Caribbean Investment Forum 2012 held at the ballroom of the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre located at Lady Young Road, St Ann’s on the topic Creative Industries: The Entertainment Industry.

Sharon Burke, a talent agent from Jamaica and Tamsen Reed, chief executive officer at Celebrity Headliners and CMG in the United States joined Montano on the panel. He said the people of T&T, liked to boast about having the best Carnival and the best music.

“But have we really sat up and wondered if our music is the best? If it is the best Carnival? Have we really watched the world and sat down as a unit to really criticise ourselves and see where we are at and know where we want to be? “First of all, we don’t have a unit. We don’t have an artiste body. We don’t have a body that could lobby the Government. So we have to work together.

“I also want you all to be mindful that this is a young industry. We are getting there. We have many successes.” He was convinced that his efforts at music and onstage performance perfection were being used as an incubator for many emerging and established entertainers locally.

Montano said present and emerging music rivals had improved their management structures, strengthened production capacities, envisaged themselves as a brand and even added merchandising to further the brand, while taking a fancy to the social networking medium because of his advances and achievements.

‘Record companies can’t restrain us’
“So there has been some incremental movement, but we need now to embrace technology. We have a plus. We don’t need the big record companies anymore, because the big record companies are a thing of the past. “That works in our favour because the big record companies are nowhere near us, so let’s use the (cellular) phone, let’s use the Internet, let’s use the apps and embrace technology…social media.

“I think we need to come together as a unit. I am pushing for soca to be the Sound of the Caribbean (Soca).” But ahead of hitting the Soca mark, he said, wrangling between elders in society and younger performers, which occurred whenever (young) artistes made efforts to re-work an existing musical work, had to stop.

“We have to stop this culture of every time somebody tries something and they change it, the older people say they (are) spoiling it. They (are) not spoiling it. “They (are) taking it into their hands and they adding to it, which is what sprouts growth and we have to embrace that as a culture.”

No handouts, please!
“We also need to build industries around the artistes. Now I’m not saying it’s all going to be about funds and grants because this is a competitive business, so we can’t wait for the handouts. “I think if the artistes improve and we make something that is worth selling, somebody will come here looking for it, to sell it. So we have to constantly improve that.

“It’s not the funds that are going to help us become more popular. It’s going to help us. We need, more than ever—more than funds—qualified people willing to sit down around us and embrace us and teach us the right things.” In his assessment of the chronic cultural shortfalls that has T&T without the requisite structures for nurturing perfection and leveraging success, Montano said, educators and administrators were key stakeholders towards achieving industry status. “Help us and teach us what works out there in the world. It is a work in progress.

“We have to have a body and we have to have greater frequency of conversations like this and every time we have a conversation, we must hold ourselves accountable. “We must have some deliverables, we must have a timeline. We must set a plan for us to achieve these things. That’s how we will make progress.

For the original report go to

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