MDLBEAST boosts Jordan's music with XChange workshops and roadshow

MDLBEAST shines a spotlight on Jordan’s music scene with XChange workshops and roadshow in Amman
(Photos: MDLBEAST)
MDLBEAST, the Saudi Arabia-based music entertainment company dedicated to showcasing both established and emerging local, regional, and global talent, came to Amman for a two-day music networking event in June, highlighting industry emergence and the long road ahead for artists.اضافة اعلان

Kicking the weekend off on the first floor of Manara in Jabal Al-Weibdeh, XP Music Futures, in association with MALAHI, hosted XChange in Amman after visiting Cairo on May 26. XP Music Futures operates as a sub-brand of MDLBEAST and was established to accelerate the region’s music industry through conference programming, initiatives, and showcases.

The workshops, which tour the Middle East, aim to catalyze the growth of the regional music industry, and are centered around the question of fostering sustainable growth in the music scene.

The event began with a panel discussing what the workshop identified as ‘the four pillars of the music industry’: Talent, Scene, Innovation, and Impact. Moderated by Shermine Sawalha, the panel included leaders in Amman’s local music scene, including Yazan Nabulsi, the co-founder of Keife Records, Saeed Abu Jaber, the co-founder of Turbo, Radio AlHara and the TBA Collective, and Mai Sahli, the founder of Scene by Sahli, JFAC, and the co-founder of the Corner’s Pub.

Questions for the panel included discussions about labels roles and its importance regionally, education for artists, including the ins and outs of the industry, especially within the Kingdom, and the potential for collaboration across all boards.

You can’t apply a Western mindset to the region
“Jordan is known for its independent music,” commented Nabulsi. “We have to wear different hats. But you can  not apply a Western mindset to the region.”

“It is a community effort,” said Abu Jaber, who continued this sentiment. “For example Radio Al Hara has been going on for 3 years, and although it is needed on the ground, there is globally due to a regional network which extends internationally more so than locally.”

Tanya Awad, XP’s Program Manager and XChange Lead, was one of the events organizers.

“We came to Amman, known as a breeding ground for incredible talent, because we want to learn from and exchange with the community, and understand how talent is being cultivated in abundance.”

So much work we have to do
“When we have workshops like these and start to look at the infrastructure, we recognize there is so much work that we have to do, we also realize, in some cases, that we share the same challenges in our respective countries.”

Awad went on to discuss the diversity that she recognized in Amman’s music scene, a diversity that she cannot always identify in cities where XCHANGE workshops were held.

“In this room are people in distribution, labels, media and radio, artist managers, emerging artists and also established artists. To have such a diverse group attend XChange, especially with regards to gender and a balanced mix of men and women, tells us a lot about where Amman is in terms of the industry’s maturity and thirst for growth.

Fractured nature of the Arab music scene
However, she also noted the fractured nature of the Arab music scene, which is a common complaint within the industry.

“Another observation is that there isn’t enough ground-level, collective organization. It really felt like there were a lot of people in this space that don’t work with each other and don’t know each other very well. I think this is an area we all need to work on in each of our respective countries. I am a firm believer in grassroots level organization as it has the potential to cultivate empowered communities and create longevity in music culture."

"The greatest perk of starting the music industry in Saudi Arabia later is recognizing the importance of collaboration with neighboring countries. By combining our resources, we can help the industry thrive even more. There has been incredible talent brewing in Saudi for decades, through self-organization, and I personally believe this is why Saudi’s music scene is both unique and thriving today.”

XChanges’ aim is to resolve this issue, by connecting the communities across the region, an aim recognised by attendees at the workshop.

"MDLBEAST hosting XChange workshops in Amman represents a significant advancement in the music industry, particularly in Jordan,” Mazz, SHBB Collective’s Business Manager told Jordan News. “This event holds great importance as it provides a valuable opportunity for local talents to enhance their knowledge and gain practical experiences to guide them towards success.”

“The workshops also foster a better understanding of the specific needs of the music industry in Jordan, like the provision of suitable venues and increased support from the private sector for artists and musicians across the country and the region.”

Awad echoed this sentiment, noting that “When we have XChanges, it puts the power back into the people, and through that creates these collaborations between people in the scene. XChange really offers that platform for people to meet each other within the scene but also to recognise there’s so much opportunity between our countries to collaborate.”

This theme of collaboration continued on the second day of MDLBEAST’s visit to the Kingdom’s capital with the MDLBEAST Roadshow taking place at Jabal Amman’s Block 7. Starting with a performance to remember by local singer Nataly Sanjian, MDLBEAST brought a flavor of the XP Nite to Amman, with the panel discussion focusing on the growth of regional music culture.

Hosted by Bliss FM’s Khaled Budeiri, Amman Jazz Festival’s founder Lama Hazboun, DJ, Producer and MDLBEAST CCO Baloo, and Producer and Owner of Levant Studios Nasir Al Bashir gave their thoughts and advice to attendees on topics such as on being musicians in an ever-changing industry, challenges they face, and collaboration and innovation in music.

“The first challenge was working with something no one believes in. I had to carve my own path and learn from my own mistakes,” Hazboun noted during the panel discussion.

Artist development
Thereafter, Moe Hamzeh, newly appointed Executive Director of MDLBEAST’s ‘New Arabic, Regional Music, and Talent Development Division’ announced the launch of the company’s new record label, and stated that this division will focus on everything involved with artist development.

“This region has the potential to be public players on the global scale,” he said during the event. “This division will focus on everything involved with artist development. We need talent that has time and the ability to persevere, but they need a support system to navigate the global music industry, and that’s what we will provide.”

This announcement solidified MDLBEAST’s commitment to advocacy for the music industry regionally, responding to the need for a platform for artist’s education and compensation.

“Jordan might be in the early stages of its music industry development, but it’s home to a wealth of undiscovered talent,” Bilal Al-Damen, Regional Talent Manager at SHBB Collective told Jordan News at the conference. “MDLBEAST's event felt like a support from a renowned entertainment company that can boost emerging Jordanian artists’ visibility and careers, and help them gain recognition locally and potentially even internationally.”

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