The Power of Politics: How MDLBeast’s XP Music Conference is Driving Innovation in the Middle East Music Industry…
The opportunity for the music industry in the Middle East has never been greater. As Saudi Arabia continues its transformation and welcomes the world, new doors continue to open for the region’s talent. Central to this growth in music culture is MDLBeast’s XP Music Conference, which after a successful year in 2021 has been confirmed for a second edition in late November 2022 in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
XP is a three day event with a conference and nightlife aspect, created to strengthen the future of music across the region through workshops and panel discussions offering music industry professionals and emerging industry talent the opportunity to have roundtable discussions and networking opportunities. The conference welcomes a uniquely diverse audience including labels, publishers, talent, NGOs, GOVs, events companies, entrepreneurs and music media.
The foundations of XP are based on four pillars; Talent aims to establish careers in music for local and regional talent while bringing new audiences to established artists; scene will highlight opportunities to promote the region’s burgeoning music industry; Impact & Social Purpose create a dialogue about music, mental health, wellbeing and diversity in the industry; Policy is about making sure the right legislation is in place to help build a strong and sustainable music ecosystem.
In the first edition and true to the purpose of XP, the political pillar was brought to life beyond mere activations on stage by taking concrete actions to advance the regional music industry. At the event, MDLBeast confirmed an agreement with ESMAA, the Gulf-based music rights management organization, to support local and international music artists and composers by ensuring they receive compensation for the use of their works performed at all MDLBeast events ; a regional first. Prior to ESMAA, there was no regional entity to ensure music creators and rights holders were paid when their music was played at venues or facilities in the Gulf.
“Saudi Arabia has a creative, vibrant community that awaits opportunities to express their creativity, and this is where the importance of XP lies.”
It is these types of policies that can really support the growing music economy in the region and will be a key focus in the upcoming edition of XP 2022. To elaborate further, we spoke to Vibelab partner and former night mayor of Amsterdam, Mirik Milan, about his experience at XP and where he thinks politics can have the greatest impact.
“Saudi Arabia has a creative, vibrant community waiting for opportunities to express their creativity, and this is where the importance of XP lies,” he says. “XP allows us to maximize the potential of local and regional talent in the Middle East. There is an obvious need for creatives to come together to network and collaborate. Due to the fact that the creative transformation in Saudi Arabia is still young, policy development is needed to allow talent to access and facilitate the creation of events.
“Creating events is very important for promoters, talent and creatives to express themselves. If we see guidelines in the right place, and some softening in some others, we will see rapid growth in the music industry. This is a very special and unique moment when a resource-rich country with a large number of creative people opens up to the progress of the music industry, I personally have never experienced anything like it. There are benchmarks around the world that we can learn from and that we want to implement in Saudi Arabia.”
XP 2022 will seek to build on the first edition, which welcomed 150 local/regional/international industry professionals from 26 countries. This included EDM giants Afrojack and Steve Aoki, who led the discussion on paths to success, guiding principles for young talent and the importance of supporting aspiring DJs, producers and creators. 5,000,000 people attended over three days and 52 sessions in 2021 with regional policy leaders such as the Saudi Music Commission, Poparabia, ESMAA, the International Music Council, the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property and the French Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers part of the music, SACEM, plays a significant role.
Going forward, the XP program will span 2022, with pillar activations in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dubai, allowing for talks and developments to be built over longer timeframes and larger regions ahead of the main conference, which will have different night and day activities. This includes speaking about the big political talks for the region, particularly copyright, nightlife governance, intellectual property and non-fungible tokens.
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