ABOUT TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO’S LIVE MUSIC DISTRICT
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 and the district subsequently launched on 8th March, 2019.
Live music is a fundamental pillar of the global music industry. Locally, as per MusicTT’s survey results in 2017, 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.
Internationally, the designation of creative, cultural and entertainment districts attracts visitors and therefore creates opportunities for jobs and revenue generation. It also promotes and assists in policing and regulating an area with a high concentration of businesses and activity from a particular sector. As such, the creation of a Live Music District is a key strategy being undertaken by MusicTT through the Ministry of Trade and Industry in order to address the challenges presented by the majority of stakeholders.
“Each city and town is different. A successful Music City contributes strongly to the grassroots music scene, and generates value to the local economy and community as a whole.” – Tom Kiehl, UK Music, London.
A Live Music District is another phrase used to describe the widely used term “Music City.” It was first used in reference to Nashville, Tennesse’s storied “Capital of Songwriting and Music Business’ ‘ but now describes varied communities that actively promote a vibrant music economy. As such, there is no strict definition of a Music City and the scope of its development and operations remains flexible to the fingerprint of the targeted city.
Music Cities/Live Music Districts have become a global trend and are seen as economic drivers and tourism development catalysts. Each Music City is unique in nature – varying by culture, demographics and dynamics – which can only be fully explored upon a committed engagement of the development process. There are critical success factors no matter what geographic location these Music Cities are found in, and Trinidad and Tobago possesses everything necessary to begin 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. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about the need to expand outside the limits of Port of Spain to the wider cities, towns and counties across Trinidad and Tobago.
The Live Music District (LMD) brand continues to grow in popularity since its launch and is associated with other local initiatives. The Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts (now called the Ministry of Tourism and the Arts) has collaborated with the LMD to bring music to the public via the Live at Lunch series in Woodford Square and The Port of Spain City Corporation has also incorporated the Live Music District into its City Month celebrations via events such as Live at the Promenade, Live at the Gardens and Live at the Square. The Live on the Avenue series is one of the most anticipated events under the LMD banner. The series incorporates live music performances by registered LMD artists and popular local steelpan bands. The LMD has also collaborated with CARIFESTA expo and marketplace and WeBeat parade.