The first ever Palestine Music Expo will be held from April 5-7 2017 in Ramallah, Jerusalem and Haifa, where music professionals will be introduced to the burgeoning music scene from the region. The expo will showcases Palestinian music acts, most of whom have never met anyone from the music industry nor performed outside the West Bank. Industry professionals will have the opportunity to explore the region and be the first to book or sign the emerging artists.
“Most people don’t know that there is a Palestinian music scene. If you tell them you’re from a hard rock band or a metal band from Palestine, they won’t believe you,” PMX co-founder Abed Hathot told Amplify. Hathot is also one of the founding members of Palestinian metal band Khalas that was formed in the late 1990s.
Another member of PMX’s board is Mahmood Jrere of Arabic hip-hop group DAM.
“There is a pretty big hip-hop scene in the Middle East in general, but especially in Palestine. The first Arabic hip-hop group (DAM) came out of Palestine,” said Hathot. “But if we are talking about electronic music or rock or those genres, most people don’t have a clue and the music coming out of there is really good.”
Hathot said of him and his frequent business partner Jrere, our groups “been around for more than 15 years and we’ve gained enough experience, knowledge, and networking to work with other teams outside of Palestine. We always wanted to develop the scene and help other artists who haven’t been fortunate enough to do that.”
The plan for the Expo came about when Hathot and Jrere met founder/chairman of Cooking Vinyl Martin Goldschmidt at an event called Tune In Tel Aviv. Along with other musicians and music journalists, Hathot and Jrere showed Goldschmidt around the West Bank and over dinner they discussed their desire to grow the Palestinian music scene. Goldschidt recommended developing a music expo.
Hathot explained that “The idea for the expo is to help by bringing people from the music industry to come and see showcases for Palestinian bands and if they like them they can sign them or book them for festivals” since the musicians are limited in where they can play in the region.
The expo will be helping Palestinian music reach a larger audience outside of the region. They are expecting delegates from several other countries including Canada, France, India, England, and Brazil. But the expo will also be about developing the music scene within Palestine.
They will have Sound Diplomacy present to help establish the music economy in Palestine. Sound Diplomacy works with cities on music placemaking, policy, venue and festival strategies, night time economy strategies, music tourism, planning, licensing and economic impact. They work with “the structure of the city, they offer plans on how to make the structure of the city more acceptable for music,” Hathot added.
Hathot and Jrere have been working on establishing the Palestinian music scene for years. In 2014 they developed IndiePush, which is an interactive music fan platform that helps Palestinian musicians promote themselves.
“The idea of the startup was to take bands from the MENA (Middle East, North Africa) region and have them be promoted outside the MENA region,” Hathot said. “Bands could upload their music to the website. Fans could share the music and if they did they could earn points which could be redeemed for free music.”
Other opportunities at the expo will include networking and meet-ups with international music professionals and musicians. The three-day event will have performances, workshops, and daily panels as well. Delegates will also be treated to tours of several locations like Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Ramallah.
The expo may be three days long, but the founders intend to keep the momentum going throughout the year.
“The idea for the expo is not to just have the experience those three days. That is stage one. Stage two is to set up a Palestinian Music Expo office which will work through the whole year giving guidance to artists. We will bring in workshops which is something we’ve already started. We’ve done two workshops already and next month will be our third. We bring music producers or people who work in the music industry who can help the artists learn to promote themselves.”
For more information on how to attend Palestine Music Expo or how to help promote Palestinian music, check out the PMX’s website.