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Reggae Open Forum: Music insiders bet on livestreaming, metadata use

With the music and entertainment industry in shutdown mode since the outset of the pandemic in March last year, a few companies have found innovative ways to remain viable since then and continuing into 2021.

The livestreaming of events, virtual shows using holograms of living or deceased superstars; and the use of metadata to maximise earnings from music are some of the techniques to be utilised now and in the future, as long as face-to-face concerts and interactions remain difficult.

This is the view of experienced music industry plays speaking at a Reggae Month Open University forum on Thursday, February 4.

Saaed Thomas, head of audio and video production company M1 Production, said his company invested in livestreaming equipment before the practice took off during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We realised where the industry was going in that more people are on their phones and the social media platforms are facilitating live streaming; also the manufacturers are making the equipment a bit cheaper for consumers,” said Thomas.

“It was like a blessing in that we had the equipment and we were ready to go when the pandemic happened," he said.

Keith Kirk, a music business professional based in Trinidad and Tobago, says the analysis of metadata has become increasingly important as most music business takes place online. He uses social platforms such as Clubhouse to educate independent artistes on the importance of metadata in tracking their earnings from music.

“When you say ‘hey Siri, can you play 'I Shot the Sheriff’ and she plays it, that’s because of metadata. Every time your song is played, performed or streamed somewhere, that’s money being generated, but how you track those streams and get paid is through that metadata,” Kirk explained.

Walshy Fire of the Grammy-award winning group Major Lazer expects the emergence of exciting new ideas for virtual performances.

“In next five years we will be seeing virtual shows and set design that will be nothing that we can even fathom right now,” he said. “Don’t count virtual shows out any time soon. We all want to see live shows coming back prepared to never ever do another live show again."

Walshy Fire expects the price of a virtual reality (VR) headset to fall from more than US$300 presently to about US$100, making it affordable “everywhere”.

“We have already done some Oculus (VR) concerts where you can walk up on stage and walk around us. That is going to become normal in the very, very near future," he opined.

Meanwhile, Martin Price, director at music and artiste management company ONErpm, is using the pandemic to set up an office in Nigeria, to capitalise on the growth in popularity of Afrobeat worldwide.

The Reggae Month Open University forum, which was streamed online, was organised by the Jamaica Reggae Music Association (JARIA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

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