Musicians told: ‘Don’t see pandemic as brick wall’

In this file photo, Ravi B performs as a guest artiste at the recording of the 2021 Chutney Soca Monarch finals at the Southern Academy for the Performing Arts, San Fernando on February 11. Photo by Lincoln Holder

As the covid19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the entertainment sector, musicians in Trinidad and Tobago are being encouraged to take every opportunity to sustain their careers.

At the launch of the three-day RVRB Experience music virtual conference on Wednesday, hosted by MusicTT from September 29–October 1, chairman John Arnold advised musicians not to view the pandemic as a brick wall.

RVRB Experience is expected to give those involved in the industry the opportunity to network and discuss different ways to remain sustainable.

The conference will focus on economic recovery: the rebirth and transformation of the industry, music policies, music trends, festival culture and a data-driven future.

During his address, Arnold lamented how severely the pandemic had affected the music industry. Though it’s uncertain when the sector will return to normal, Arnold believes if musicians find a way to incorporate culture into their resilience the industry will have a better chance of survival.

“Immediately we all rallied around when the pandemic hit. Creatives in TT came together as an umbrella body of the collective, to discuss pathways of resistance, the government provided intervention with grants through the Ministry of Culture, the private sector made donations, financial institutions offered support and loans.

“Also a lot of our creatives found other means, by moving to other countries for more open opportunities.”

To contain the spread of the virus the government cancelled the industry’s most anticipated events around and during the Carnival season. This was followed by restrictions on the entertainment sector.

Arnold said during that time, “There was a sense of panic in the industry as musicians had their entire livelihoods suddenly ripped from them, with no end in sight, falling between the cracks of government support, having to rely on charity and relief funds.”

Touring, live shows, events and merchandise sales make up 75 per cent of a full-time musician’s earnings.

Arnold applauded musicians for innovation using technology by hosting live shows, virtual classes, creating online gigs and virtual projects to prevent the industry from becoming completely stagnant while restrictions are in place.

Until the entertainment sector returns to normal, Arnold encouraged musicians to embrace and tap into any opportunity to grow. One of them is the valuation of music-rights assets to generate income as livestreaming music online continues to fill the void.

He said, “However, there may be some limit to the rate of growth in valuation post-covid19, given, at some point, the newer distribution models must mature. Additionally, continuing convergence between media channels presents further opportunities for music, whether that be via gaming, social or other means of delivery, Utilising this breadth of channels to market to build further engagement with fans will also be key to driving success.”

Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon commended all stakeholders for their resilience and ability to keep the industry afloat.

She said, “The government is cognisant that the creative and cultural industries are an engine of growth and development and an important driver of innovation and productivity, particularly in developed countries. In this regard, the sector is being targeted through the Roadmap to Recovery report as a pillar for economic diversification and export growth to boost competitiveness, productivity and employment in TT.”