Art Under Occupation: Palestine Music Expo 2017
Like many good stories, it began at 2am in a bar.
Martin Goldschmidt, the founder of British indie label Cooking Vinyl, was in Haifa, due to attend an Israeli music expo the next day. There, he met musician Mahmoud Jreri of rap band DAM, and the idea for a Palestinian-focused music festival was born.
Flourishing under Occupation
There is a thriving music scene in Palestine, flourishing even under Occupation. However, many of these artists struggle to establish themselves internationally, in part because the “music industry” as we know it in the US and Europe is virtually non-existent.
“Currently,” said Goldschmidt, “the only way to make a living as a musician in Palestine is to leave the country or keep your day job.”
The Palestine Music Expo aims to change this, beginning with a three- day festival across three Palestinian cities to showcase and educate the international music industry on the breadth and diversity of music created, performed and recorded in the country.
Connecting Palestine with the international music community
By bringing Palestinian musicians and artists with members of the international music industry (record companies, booking agencies, music supervisors, festivals promoters and journalists), the goal is to enable the building of long-term relationships, provide a foundation for networking, and give delegates a unique window into how music is created in Palestine.
This will be done, in part, via curated workshops that will equip Palestinian musicians with the tools needed to navigate the international music industry.
“The workshops will aim to give artists a basic understanding of how to protect their rights, distribute online, booked for a festival, crowdfunding, record deals, and so on,” explained Goldschmidt.
The Expo will also facilitate one-to-one meetings between musicians and professionals. “Artists will have the opportunity to meet people from the wider industry, get mentoring advice and present their music,” said Goldschmidt. “There will also be a lot of informal social interaction.”
Three days, three cities, and a three-year goal
The format for the Expo will be multi-genre showcases in Ramallah and Haifa, culminating with a closing concert and party in Haifa. Delegates are currently by invite only, but Goldschmidt says he hopes to open up admission to the wider industry in the New Year. But the long-term aim is to hold three Expos over three years, and in the process create a sustainable infrastructure for Palestinian musicians to record and tour.
Goldschmidt is currently fundraising for the Expo via GoFundMe. All donations raised will be used to pay for cover travel and accommodation expenses for delegates as well as production costs associated with running and events and panels.
There will also be a $10,000 fund set up to assist Palestinian musicians with international touring.
“Our first goal is a sustainable Expo,” he explained. “The second is providing year-round support through a Palestinian music office. The third is a music audit and to action a plan to significantly improve the infrastructure and opportunities for Palestinian musicians.”