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Imani Duncan-Price | The missing piece: notes from Nashville

On her Eisenhower Fellowship, Imani Duncan-Price will be travelling to 10 cities in the United States to learn different approaches to developing thriving industries/clusters in music, sports, and entertainment tourism in Jamaica. As she visits these cities – Philadelphia, Washington DC, Nashville, Louisville (Kentucky), Indianapolis, San Francisco, Colorado Springs, Sedona (Arizona), Bentonville (Arkansas), New York City – Imani will share with you, through The Gleaner , what she has learned.

Nashville is much more than country music. It’s a music centre that celebrates roots music of the south – jazz, rhythm and blues, bluegrass, country, gospel, and more. And it’s not just about the performers. It got its start in songwriting and music publishing and has expanded into a range of different occupations – composers, sound engineers, audio and video equipment technicians, musical instrument repair, event management and others.

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This didn’t happen by chance. While there was a base of creative collaboration in Nashville, Jamaica can consider some key factors

Venues Nashville’s 4,500 venues range from small to mid-sized with relatively few very large performance spaces. Venues enable musicians, promoters, and technical-support teams to hone their skills as live performance is one of the main ways to make money in the industry today. Working small venues also provides an opportunity to develop merchandising skills

This is where changing our mindset and employing ‘creative space-making’ can be key for Jamaica. We need to look at existing spaces and see how we can provide them with the right equipment for live performances. Imagine the vibrancy in our parks, transport centres, church halls, and community centres in areas with a concentration of Airbnb accommodations across Jamaica

Funding Most banks worldwide have proven shy to understand and properly assess the risk in this industry. It’s not surprising that First Tennessee Bank and Sun Trust Bank in Nashville have units focused on the music industry, providing lines of credit for seasonal needs (i.e., touring, festivals); equipment financing for staging, lighting, studio equipment, tour buses; royalty-advance loans; and other services

The Bank of Jamaica and banks in Jamaica could pursue knowledge transfer programmes on how to assess and finance the various related businesses. Guidelines for more effective reserve ratios would also enable dynamic banks to be more creative, while remaining prudent

Up-and-coming music professionals can use crowdfunding sites like pledgemusic.com to build a fan base and raise seed funding. Artistes can also use streaming sites like Spotify or upload great songs to YouTube to enable advertisements to get paid. Pennies can add up as those songs gain traction

As a buzz is created, professionals can then earn more with live performances locally and internationally

With global successes in music, Jamaica has unique assets to build a holistic industry. With focus and commitment, we can fill some of the gaps and enable Jamaica to become the music Mecca of the Caribbean

– Imani Duncan-Price is chief of staff for the leader of the Opposition, Eisenhower Fellow, a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and former senator. Email feedback to [email protected] and [email protected] .

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