In our continued efforts to bridge the gap between local musicians, musical interests, and the larger world-wide music community, we sit down this month with a couple who have for some time now been the epicenter for all things musical in Kuwait. Originally launched in December of 2010 by husband and wife team Caesar Fernandes and Narine Okjian Fernandes, Kuwait-Music.com quickly became the pulse by which our local music community could be measured. Not just a resource to connect musicians with other musicians, it was also a bastion for hope in an otherwise insular marketplace. With an aim that was simply to help other musicians hear of each others music, in hopes of creating a more cohesive community. An aim that by all accounts they have achieved. Now, seemingly hitting their head on a glass ceiling of local limitations, they look forward to the next big thing with an evolution of the site itself, and the dream that accompanies it.
As the child of two popular regional singers from the 60’s and 70’s, who incidentally met via a gig, it is fair to say that music was in Caesar’s veins before he even knew it. Now, grown up, and dividing his time between a day job in IT and a night hobby of playing four instruments (guitar, piano, drums, and bass), he is a busy man to be sure. Still, in between these two great passions he has found a way to maintain his allegiances to both simultaneously: by combining a place for musicians to benefit from his IT know-how.
At its height, Kuwait-Music made a substantial impact via the work of the Fernandes’ as well as their content strategist, Nabeel Mohan. Here is a quick rundown of their stats thus far: more than 124 bands, artists and DJ’s registered for their services; 37,000+ Facebook followers, 10,000+ on Twitter; a successful tenure as the first Red Bull partner in Kuwait to run Bed Room Jam, Red Bull’s global online battle of the bands; 35 or so exclusive interviews with local artists, and the promoter of more than 300 music related concerts and events. Also, through their partnerships with some of the biggest local corporations including Wataniya Telecom, Al Shaya, Al Yousifi, Adawliah Electronics, and Al Homaizi Group, they assured that musicians were actually able to get paid. Also notable, when the BBC wanted to do a report on some of the challenges of music and censorship in Kuwait for their world report program, of course they went to the Kuwait-Music team for their expertise. So, with their hands in so much of the local industry it came as a shock to many when they announced in July that they would be transitioning the site into a new site. Hence: Kuwait-Music becomes Engage.
When asked, Caesar replies simply that the dream has grown, and with it too, so shall the reach of the site overall. Basically the reason for the transition is that the scope of the site became too limiting for what they were trying to do. What worked about it was that is was purely a local musician-based community service and as such, a platform to get people together. However, once it became clear that it had reached a critical point and its ability to grow plateaued, what’s commonly known as market saturation in the business world, it became apparent that they needed a change. What is notable here though is that, far from being a turning away from what they were previously doing with Kuwait-Music, Engage will be an embracing of what worked about it, but broadcast in a more inclusive worldwide forum, whilst adding some new tools for their musician base.
What Engage will be, simply, is a music promotion tool for musicians, based on user-generated content, meant to open doors between the three most crucial instruments in the music promotion game: the musicians, the listeners, and the promoters. There will be a different version of account that you can set up, based on your needs as a user of the site. Further, since one of their main aims is to be the most useful tool for regional talent to date (as well as a few targeted other areas), the website will be available in English, French, and Arabic, a potential breakthrough of sorts for regional musicians. Think of it as the Sound Cloud and Reverb Nation of both live bands and electronic music, but geared specifically to the Arab world.
So, where Kuwait-Music is more reporting and blogging on music as the main dish, think of the new site as a place where the music itself is the main dish, with all of the other comment and opinion as the sides. If all goes well, Engage could be one more tool for you to get your music out there. Further, as one of the rare sites with a vested interest in our local and regional music scene, you can rest assured that this is where the site will likely shine the brightest. Currently slated to launch by the end of November, they are presently in the final stages of developing their database management and mobile integration- both of which mean good things for you musicians out there.
So, if like many local musicians, you have been longing for the day when more sites will be geared specifically to your needs, rather than developed for another audience but forced to work locally for lack of better options, Engage may be just the site for you. Additionally, made by local users who still are every bit involved in the local market, albeit with a larger stage from which to broadcast, they would love to hear your feedback on how it is working. We will be sure to follow up with them in the coming months for updates.
Inside/Out is brought to you by the last person in the world promoting music via myspace.com. What, you’ve never heard o’me? Not surprised. Don’t be the last one on your current platform: out with the old, Engage with the new! And send us your latest Miley Cyrus mashups, provided they are appropriately dressed! For now, get updates on the site www.engageiscoming.com. Also, follow them on Twitter @engagethemusic or on Facebook: Kuwaitmusic