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Music industry in UAE grows in leaps and bounds

A series of successful events has helped place the country on the entertainment map but several challenges still exist that need addressing

  • By Nathalie Farah, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 November 26, 2009
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: ABDUL RAHMAN/Gulf News
  • Chillout Productions is the organiser of several musical events such as the Abu Dhabi Jazz Festival. Guy Manoukian & Friends are shown performing at the fifth edition of the Abu Dhabi Jazz Festival last year.

Abu Dhabi: While the music industry in the UAE may still be very young, when compared to other nations worldwide, recent years have seen an explosion of concerts and other musical events across the country.

Such success has helped to raise the interest of artists and performers in considering the UAE as a major musical venue.

"In 1999, there was only one event every year and everyone would be there. But now there are three or even four events every week," said Satyen Choksi, a partner at OHM Records.

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"Now because of competition, there have been great improvements in terms of marketing and bringing artists... the whole package. Promoters have to constantly innovate in order to generate interest in their event," he added.

That sentiment was echoed by other organisations within the industry.

 

"No doubt it [the UAE music industry] is becoming a fast growing industry, compared to past years. We have a long list of events happening every year.

"However, I believe we do not have enough crowds to handle such a frequency of events. Not to mention the decrease in general spending power caused by the global downturn," Anthony Younes, chief executive of Chillout Productions, said.

While successful events have helped place the UAE on the map of the entertainment world, there are still challenges being faced by production and promotion companies when it comes to organising an event.

"The problem is that, because of the image of Dubai around the world, when we approach a DJ or an artist to perform here, their fee doubles," Choksi said.

Younes also observed the same attitude when his organisation would approach global artists.

"The financial expectations of the artists tend to be exaggerated once they know that they are invited to perform in UAE and that needs stronger negotiation skills to achieve a reasonable deal for both parties," he said.

Another thing that industry insiders have noticed was a worrying trend in the lack of promotion or even awareness of the many talented artists residing within the UAE.

"Events here have become top heavy. That is, many international artists are coming to perform, and as a result many home grown artists are not getting the recognition they deserve," Choksi said.

Expensive

"Also, it is expensive to arrange for a licence for a local band to perform and that deters venues from hiring them," he added.

"We are always keen to have local bands performing at our festivals for what they add to the overall mood and content. We have amazing [and] good bands residing in the UAE, which are musically qualified and deserve to be featured [at] any huge event," Younes said.

While such concerns are valid and raise legitimate questions that require answers, they will not deter the industry from bringing high profile artists and performers to the UAE.

"The music scene in the UAE accommodates all genres… it caters to all music tastes with no exception," Younes said.

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