Caribbean Dance Music Conference in Trinidad this weekend

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A report by Paula Lindo for Trinidad’s Guardian.

The major focus of the third instalment of the Caribbean Dance Music (CDM) Conference on December 2 will be the launch of On Lock Records, a new record label dedicated to the promotion of Caribbean talent. The Conference promises a hands-on interactive experience where attendees will participate in the creation of a CDM track with top producers, songwriters and musicians.

CDMC founder and organiser Karilee Fifi said, On Lock Records, headed by herself and partner Kitwana “Kit” Israel, of AdvoKit Productions, will be affiliated with Sony Records and will have access to Sony’s distribution mega-machine, The Orchard. She said the label will act as an incubator and a curator for Caribbean talent. Fifi said: “Through using their digital distributor, The Orchard, we would be able to see what songs do well in what regions and which artists are doing well. Sony would then get involved, and say we’re interested in this group or this genre and we want to get behind it, whether it’s to spend marketing dollars or signing the artist themselves, that’s the roadmap.”

She added that she will be offering digital distribution for individual tracks. “I’m not trying to sign artistes yet,” she said, “because I can’t make the commitment to sign an artist as an upcoming label, I can’t put the spend behind them. I want to say this is a great track, let’s figure out the marketing promotions for this track and go from there. I think we could definitely still make waves even if it’s just song by song. Even though the label is based in Trinidad, we want to attract talent from all genres from all over the Caribbean.”

Fifi said the decision to launch the label was made after two years of conversations with Jose Abreu, senior director for Digital Business in the Latin and Iberian Regions. In a release, Abreu said, “We came across the label and found Karrilee was doing some interesting stuff with CDM so part of the opportunity we’re bringing is supporting what she is doing locally and giving it a platform so that when there are opportunities for these artistes expanding out in terms of sales, marketing, etc. SONY is here, and we want to lend support. We want to make sure that music emerging from the islands has a platform that allows persons outside of the space to be exposed to the sounds of that culture from persons from that region.”

Fifi said it’s exciting to know that a big company in the music industry is interested in partnering with a Caribbean label and supporting Caribbean talent. “It goes to show that the world right now knows that a lot of the music they’re hearing is influenced by Caribbean music so why not just come to the source and work with the people that are on the ground.”

She revealed that in the first two years of the Conference, the focus was on educating music practitioners about the business aspects of the industry. Based on feedback from her audiences, she decided to focus more on a hands-on experience.

The practitioners will get to make a CDM track live with Keshav Singh of Jus Now Productions, Kees Dieffenthaller and Aaron “Voice” St Louis, which will then be released on On Lock Records.

The Conference will also include an “Industry Talks” panel, which will include Abreu and industry names such Stef Kalloo, Michael “Tano” Montano, Jimmy October and Mark Hardy.

Fifi said the aim is to “discuss the local music industry, see how people feel about the support or lack thereof for artists outside the soca industry and come up with a strategy.” There will also be a presentation for a Caribbean streaming platform called Radial which focuses on Caribbean content. The final session involves a demo review session where a panel will review demos which have been sent in by local talent, and the winner will be released on On Lock Records. Interested persons are asked to send their demos to demos@onlockrecords.com

The Conference takes place on December 2 at the Cipriani College of Labour between 10 am and 4 pm at a cost of $250. For more details check out the Caribbean Dance Music Conference 2017 on Facebook, email cdmgeneration@gmail.com, and call 756 4732.

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