(Recording Academy Trustee Ruby Marchand is among the delegates participating in A2IM's Trade Mission to Asia. The mission originated from an A2IM/Recording Academy Indie Day on Capitol Hill in 2010 that resulted in a government grant for the trade initiative. Her blog will document her experiences representing The Recording Academy as the mission travels from Seoul to Hong Kong in an effort to increase exports by small- and medium-sized independent music businesses based in New York and Tennessee.)
Tuesday, Sept. 4:
After months of preparation, the first-ever Trade Mission will leave for Asia tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. The ghastly 4 a.m. check-in time at Newark probably won't dampen the spirits of the independent labels leading this pioneering effort. Under the auspices of Rich Bengloff, president of A2IM, 15 delegates from a diverse group of New York-based labels will meet with key people in music who are based in Seoul, Shanghai and Hong Kong. The purpose of the trip is to lay a broad new foundation for U.S. independent music to be heard, appreciated, and sold throughout Asia. Hopefully, this will be the first of many trade missions to take this message around the world.
The concept for the trip came to Rich when he attended MIDEM and realized that participants from other countries often benefited from government support. Rich joined forces with Daryl Friedman, The Recording Academy’s Chief Advocacy & Industry Relations Officer, to find a means of identifying the most likely sources of funding for overseas outreach by the independent music community. The Academy used its connections to set up a series of meetings in Washington for leaders in the independent music community. As a result, A2IM applied for a New York State grant from a new federal program, called STEP, which is administered by each state. STEP is designed to help small businesses export the intellectual property they develop and to improve the overall balance of trade in the process. With additional assistance from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), a congressman passionately committed to music creators and preserving their rights, and Elizabeth Healy, Sr. Executive Director of The Recording Academy New York Chapter, the first-ever STEP grant was secured.
The delegates to Asia include an impressive array of A2IM member labels, including Stephanie Alexa from ATO Records, Sam Alpert from Eleven Seven Music, Cathy Bauer from Daptone Records, Joachim Becker of ZOHO Music, Alec Bemis from Brassland, Charles Book from Entertainment One, Randy Chin from VP Records, Priya Dewan from Villains Music Agency, Jurgen Korduletsch from Lollipop Records, Pat Rains from PRA Records, Adriana Sein from Ultra Music, Robert Singerman from CMJ, Seymour Stein from Blue Horizon Records, Jon Topper of Fatboy Records, and Robert Williams from 335 Records. Joining this group are Rich Bengloff, myself as The Recording Academy’s representative, and Dawn Bruno, senior international trade specialist for the Export Assistance Center within the U.S. Department of Commerce Office in New York. (This is the first time that Dawn’s office has ever directly worked with the music industry.)
A2IM meticulously prepared for this visit. Andrea DaSilva from the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C., offered all participants two webinars, featuring experts from all over Asia, on the topics of the Chinese, Hong Kong and Korean music markets and protecting intellectual property rights. In the months leading up to today, local outreach in Asia by Department of Commerce specialists, the U.S. embassies, and premier organizations such as Music Matters and Shanghai Synergy ensured that we’ll meet with literally hundreds of people who are interested in the music that the delegates will be representing. We'll meet with local music creators, labels, publishers, mobile carriers, synch and touring enterprises, entrepreneurs, government officials, press, PROs, specialized music organizations, and more. Meetings will vary from large conferences and presentations to one-on-one 15-minute speed meetings. We'll have an opportunity to hear local artists perform and we'll even be guests at a special reception hosted by the U.S. ambassador to Korea to commemorate the trip!
My role as Academy representative will be to highlight the breadth of The Recording Academy’s accomplishments and commitments. I'll be speaking in each city about The Academy and I will explore the possibility of creating work opportunities in each of these markets for our members. More to come as this blog unfolds! Now, it's time to jettison everything from my suitcase as the baggage restrictions are ridiculous between Shanghai and Hong Kong. (Thanks to Rich for the warning!)