x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

It’s the biggest music industry gathering in the region. We unpack all the conference and concert action coming our way as part of the Dubai Music Week.

The Black Eyed Peas bandleader will.i.am will join music mogul Quincy Jones for a special producers seminar at the Dubai Music Week. Courtesy of Reuters / Jason DeCrow / Pool
The Black Eyed Peas bandleader will.i.am will join music mogul Quincy Jones for a special producers seminar at the Dubai Music Week. Courtesy of Reuters / Jason DeCrow / Pool

A mixture of a star-studded talkfest and live music concerts, Dubai Music Week aims to bring the region’s music industry together – artists, managers, promoters, publicists, record labels and the broader media industry – to discuss ways to develop the Gulf’s nascent music scene.

A joint venture between the Global Gumbo Group (G3) and DxB Live and held in the Dubai World Trade Centre from Tuesday to Sunday, the event hopes to help creatives link to the entertainment world’s business minds and hopefully help them pick up a few tips from industry legends along the way.

The speakers

The who’s who of the regional and global music industry are slated to attend. The brief is not to just regale audiences with tales of former glories; the aim is to talk about the latest trends sweeping the industry. The leading speaker is none other than the music mogul Quincy Jones. Joining him on the special producers seminar on Wednesday, on a separately ticketed event (Dh400 from www.ticketmaster.ae), is the Black Eyed Peas bandleader will.i.am and the leading pop producer Timbaland.

Others speakers include the Universal Music Middle East’s general manager Patrick Boulos, who will shed light on music and social networking, and Mandar Thakur, the chief executive of India’s Times Music, a division under The Times of India group. He will delve into some of the challenges of music publishing.

A star will be born

It’s not only pop stars given the chance to shine: Dubai Music Week is looking for the next international superstar from the region.

As part of the producers panel seminar, five regional stars – nominated by executives from Sony, Universal Music and A&R – will perform a song in front of the judges led by Jones.

The winner, chosen by the panel, will have Jones produce their single and have an accompanying music video shot for international distribution.

Flying the flag for the UAE are four locally based musicians: the Emirati soul man Hamdan Al Abri, the rocker Jay Wud, the pop singer Dee Dee Fox and the R&B producer Nile.

“I am over the moon at the opportunity,” says Al Abri. “I mean, just being in the same room as Quincy Jones will be a tremendous highlight for me. Just to be given that opportunity will be a life-changing experience. I just have to go out there and do what I do best and hope that he sees something in me – it’s as simple as that.”

Wud arrives to the event fresh from a regional tour and supporting Guns N’ Roses in Yas Island back in March. “You know, I don’t feel this is a competition but instead a showcase,” he says. “I know all the acts that are performing and we are all friends. For us to be there and perform in front of Quincy is just a pleasure.”

The other performer on the bill is Lebanon’s Xriss Jor, who appeared in the inaugural season of The Voice.

The live shows

If the conference is not exactly your thing, Dubai Music Week is also offering a series of nightly concerts at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Will.i.am and Timbaland will team up for a pair of DJ performances on Thursday (tickets start at Dh250). The following day will find the 21-year-old star Selena Gomez bringing her live show, complete with the hits Birthday, Slow Down and Come and Get It (tickets start from Dh350).

Dubai Music Week will come to a rousing conclusion with a star-studded, free Arabic concert featuring The X Factor Arabia finalists, including the winner Mohamed Rifi. All concert tickets are available from www.ticketmaster.ae.

The dream team

On Tuesday night Michael Jackson fans will experience the chance of a lifetime to see the men behind his seminal albums, 1979’s Off the Wall and 1982’s Thriller, discuss their experiences working with the late singer.

The separately ticketed event (costing from Dh400 from www.ticketmaster.ae) will have Jones, the songwriters Rod Temperton and Siedah Garrett and the assistant producer Bruce Swedien discussing their experience creating arguably two of the best pop albums ever released.

Food for thought

With the event projected to be held in Dubai for up to five years, local musicians and promoters are confident Dubai Music Week will boost the fortunes of the UAE music industry.

Done Events’ chief executive Thomas Overson, the man behind the recent Justin Bieber tour, says the event will have a positive influence on the region: “It can only happen in a place like Dubai. Because it is an international city and people from the industry can come here to discuss certain issues with relative freedom. It is the equivalent of someone inviting you out for a great dinner – you wouldn’t say no.”

The Emirati Marwan Parham, known by his stage name DJ Bliss, will be part of a panel on Thursday discussing his innovative use of social networking. He is looking forward to the networking opportunities Dubai Music Week presents.

“While the shows are great, that chance to meet people from the industry is the most important part,” he explains. “This is especially important in the UAE where the music scene is moving slowly, while music technology is moving faster than ever. Having industry people there to give these seminars about these topics is useful for everyone.”

• Dubai Music Week will be held at the Dubai World Trade Centre from Tuesday to Sunday. Conference tickets begin from Dh550 and are available from www.dubaimusicweek.com

sasaeed@thenational.ae