Culture Summit Abu Dhabi looks at the future of the Gulf music industry

The Gulf is the fastest growing musical territory in the world, uniquely positioned to spearhead a global influence similar to K-pop or the cultural phenomenon of the British Invasion.

For that to happen, however, a supportive ecosystem is needed to help it thrive, Recording Academy chief executive Harvey Mason Jr said during his keynote, Music and Influencing Global Culture, to Culture. Summit Abu Dhabi on Monday.

“I’m excited and optimistic about what’s happening musically around the world, but particularly in this region,” he said. “There is such a rich heritage here. The musical heritage is deep. I don’t see why the next world superstar, the next sound, couldn’t come from here.

As Culture Summit Abu Dhabi seeks to strengthen the creative industry, Mason Jr said it was important to provide education, training and the infrastructure to support local and regional artists.

“K-pop didn’t appear out of nowhere. Rap music did not appear out of nowhere. The Beatles and the British Invasion did not make an appearance. It all came out of a supportive ecosystem that helped nurture artists, music educators, venue owners, local studios, and intellectual output protection strategies,” he said.

“I can think of no higher purpose than nurturing creators, supporting music from communities and cities, building music markets and regional music scenes. It’s not just good for those communities, countries or regions, it’s good for all of us.

Mason Jr was in a recording studio in Qatar earlier this year when he had the chance to hear one of the songs written for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

The songwriter and producer, who has worked with Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson and Britney Spears, among other big names, didn’t specify the title of the song, but said it represented “the miracle of music” and its ability to cross borders.

“The song was beautiful. My favorite part was that it was sung in three different languages ​​by three artists. I heard Arabic, I heard English, I heard Spanish, all in one song. Hearing it in the studio was a moment that struck me. I knew the future wasn’t nearly here. The future is here.

Music was one of the highlights of day two of the Abu Dhabi Culture Summit, with several international award-winning personalities and experts speaking on the region’s potential to grow globally in the digital era.

“The music industry grew 35% in 2021,” said Mason Jr. “Streaming is skyrocketing. Platforms like TikTok, Instagram reels, and YouTube shorts are all seeing huge growth here. has so many fantastic innovations going on. There’s this energy here that anything is possible. Just look at streamers like Anghami to see the pace of change. From 30 million annual users in 2017, it now has more than 70 million users and becomes the first Arab technology company to be listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Listing examples of how regional artists have made an impact globally, Mason Jr cited Egyptian singer Mohamed Hamaki’s concert in September in conjunction with the online game Fortnitewhich “nearly broke the platform with millions and millions and millions of views”.

“We are paying attention. The world is watching,” he said. “Today the world has never been small. Music blows across borders and boundaries, languages ​​and cultures. Right now, on the US charts, three of the top artists are all from outside of America.

Jimmy Jam also said he was excited to see the unique sound signatures coming out of Arab towns. The Grammy Award-winning producer, along with longtime collaborator Terry Lewis, has worked with several top musicians, from Janet Jackson and Prince to Mariah Carey and Usher.

Speaking during a chat with Recording Academy President Panos A Panay, Jam said he was looking forward to spending more time in Abu Dhabi to experience his musical identity.

“It will be exciting to see what happens,” he said.

“All it really takes is an artist to really pop. Then everyone is like, wow, oh, that must be the thing. That’s what happened when Prince broke, all of a sudden everyone came to Minneapolis to figure out what that sound was. It’s the same in Philadelphia or Detroit or a lot of cities. What’s exciting is that there’s an interest in music here, but it also looks like there’s going to be an infrastructure to really uplift the musicians and the creative community here.

Updated: October 24, 2022, 2:17 p.m.

Comments are closed.