Name and where are you based?
@Melissa Jimenez - Trinidad & Tobago
Tell us a bit about yourself and career leading you to where you are now?
Melissa Jimenez is a Creative Consultant, Fulbright Scholar and Arts Administrator. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago in 2017 with a Master’s in Arts Management; she holds a BA in Musical Arts from the University of the West Indies (UWI) as well as a number of Certificates in the fields of Events Management, Steelpan Performance, Project Management and Personal Branding.
Passionate about helping others, Melissa has worked with NGO’s such as Kids in Need of Direction (KIND); Must Come See Productions, Habitat for Humanity and has served as the Director of Partner Relations with the Volunteer Center of Trinidad and Tobago (VCTT).
Melissa is currently the General Manager of Trinidad and Tobago Music Company Limited (MusicTT), a state-owned agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry where she is responsible for steering the business development and export activity of the music sector.
She says, “I want the world to see the Caribbean as not only as an ideal vacation destination but know us for our explosive talent and admirable cultural diversity.”
Tell us a bit about your current job and company?
General Manager - Trinidad and Tobago Music Company Limited (MusicTT)
The Trinidad and Tobago Music Company Limited (MusicTT) was established in 2014 with the mandate to stimulate and facilitate the business development and export activity of the music industry in Trinidad and Tobago to generate national wealth. As a subsidiary of Trinidad and Tobago Creative Industries Company Limited (CreativeTT) under the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), MusicTT provides industry-wide strategic direction and action plans toward the development of the music industry as well as guidance and access to music education and capacity development, especially in the business and monetization of local music and protection of the same.
How is your work &/or company contributing to the development of your city as a music city?
In October 2017, the plans for the first Live Music District of Trinidad and Tobago were disclosed in Fiscal 2018/2019’s Budget Speech in Parliament.
Live music is a fundamental pillar of the global music industry. Access to music performance spaces was seen as a major issue for music creatives, most of whom work a fulltime job parallel to their musical activities. Additionally, there has been a challenge for local music performers outside of the indigenous carnival-oriented genres to book performances year-round. As such, the creation of a Live Music District was a key strategy undertaken by MusicTT through the Ministry of Trade and Industry in order to address the challenges presented by the majority of stakeholders.
There are critical success factors no matter what geographic location these Music Cities are found in, but Trinidad and Tobago possesses everything necessary to continue on this exciting journey in music. MusicTT identified the City of Port of Spain as the first Live Music District for Trinidad & Tobago. This area was chosen due to the already-present infrastructure suited for live music as well as the existence of a solid customer base who currently frequent this area.
The Live Music District was launched in March 2018 and has since provided local artists with the opportunities to showcase their talent at various events and locations throughout the chosen district. Artists have registered on the "AMPT" platform which is an app and site to facilitate the live music district bookings. The app (available on both apple and android phone) is promoted to the incoming tourists to download and gives them access to a plethora of live music events happening not only in POS but across T&T.
The LMD brand is growing in popularity since its launch and is associated with other local initiatives. The Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts has collaborated with the Live Music District to bring music to the public via the Live at Lunch series and The Port of Spain City Corporation has also incorporated the Live Music District into its City Month celebrations.The LMD has also partnered with a number of promoters locally.
The Live on the Avenue series is one of the most anticipated events under the Live Music District banner. The series incorporates live music performances by registered LMD artists and popular local steelpan bands.
What short &/or long term plans do you have to contribute to your city being a music city?
During this time of COVID-19 where restrictions have been placed for mass gatherings, MusicTT has converted the Live Music District to function in the virtual space which still allows for employability of artistes and musicians. Conversion to this format will remain until otherwise instructed by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Currently crowds are restricted to no more than 25 persons. The conversion to an online space has seen to date, viewerships of over 30,000 persons on average per show where in its physical format prior only saw an approximated 1500-2000 attendees for large shows and 75-300 attendees for smaller shows.
Post COVID-19, we are definitely seeking to have a hybrid model of live and virtual shows and are encouraging promoters and event producers to do the same.
On Monday 4th November 2019 it was announced that UNESCO designated Port-of-Spain as a member of the creative cities network in the field of music. The achieved designation added value and highlighted the City‘s rich heritage of indigenous music, steelpan and the Carnival arts and support the City‘s current revitalization efforts. The Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez said the scope of the initiatives within Port-of-Spain’s four-year plan are both national and international which would have benefits for many. The intention is to provide year-round opportunities for artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, residents, nationals, visitors and the community to experience T&T’s music and creativity.
The establishment of music zones seek to establish locations within Port-of-Spain to promote music heritage as a driver for sustainable urban development. MusicTT’s Live Music district will be an integral part of this plan. MusicTT identified the City of Port of Spain as the first Live Music District for Trinidad & Tobago. This area was chosen due to the already-present infrastructure suited for live music as well as the existence of a solid customer base who currently frequent this area. The Live Music District was launched in March 2018 and has since provided local artists with the opportunities to showcase their talent at various events and locations. As this too was on the cusp of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's roll-out was halted, but plans are currently being revised to incorporate "the new normal" till physical live functions are able to regain its momentum.