AM-PM: The music does not have a fixed schedule

by
Noon

There are many aspects related to music that -for dissimilar reasons- lack the necessary space for reflection, debate and training / training. Numerous are professionals who develop their work intuitively, learning "on the fly", from the error, risking the results in the absence of knowledge and experience.

This complex situation has found an oasis in AM-PM "America for its Music", a meeting platform for music professionals in the region that already has four editions completed and this year a fifth endeavor is proposed.

Created at the Cuban Art Factory, the meeting seeks tirelessly to promote strategic alliances between institutions and professionals, create training spaces in areas of music that lack presence in the curricula, and above all, share experiences and ideas "to all hour ", without fixed time or schedule.

Today AM-PM is a point of obligatory reference in the professional field of music and Latin American cultural management. But it all started long before AM-PM, when this need for exchange found a first response with the complicity of Darsi Fernández and María Elena Vinueza, at Casa de las Américas.

Theoretical sessions, second edition of AM-PM, 2016. Photo: Fernando Medina / AM-PM.

The genesis was in the House

The beginnings go back to the year 2010, when the summer season Goes through the House he received the workshop "The production of musical events". For the first time in Cuba, a group of producers met to exchange experiences about the design, planning and realization of musical events, understanding as such from concerts of different genres, styles and dimensions to great festivals.

What are the functions of a producer of musical events and what particularities this work has in the Cuban context were some of the thematic lines that governed the two days of work. Conferences, panels and collective samples of national production efforts were shown on that occasion. It was the opportunity to get to know, firsthand, the experiences in the musical production of Eduardo Valdés Rivera, the research results related to the musical industry of Johannes Abreu, or the work developed by Enrique Carballea from his work with the Arte group Live, or Yoana Grass with 4C Productions. A wide range of local experiences was shown through spaces such as A Clean Guitar from the Pablo de la Torriente Brau Center, in the voice of María Santucho; or the extinct Festival Rotilla of electronic music, in the voice of Michel Matos, event that at that time was in a moment of splendor. It was also the first time that the topic of sponsorship of events was addressed, in the voice of Yuser Candebat Montero, on behalf of the firm Havana Club Internacional SA

That initial experience - in addition to the spiritual need of the meeting between colleagues to share anecdotes and laughter - was crucial to understand the usefulness and importance of convening spaces of exchange to achieve professional growth. It was for this reason that, a year later, in September, the House again received a Workshop on Production and Cultural Management, which was proposed - once again - to promote debate, training and the exchange of experiences among specialists linked to the realization of the most diverse events of music and the performing arts. As is natural, this new delivery grew both in perspectives of analysis and in work proposals.

Fifty professionals from the management shared criteria and experiences about the relationships between culture, participation and social inclusion. The guests addressed issues related to new trends in this field and their links with cultural policy; to the profiles and functions of the manager in our days, also enrolled in the context of new information and communication technologies. The role of the cultural manager in the contemporary conjuncture and in the increasing professionalization of this essential role in the development of cultural processes was emphasized.

This time, we were getting closer to experiences such as the Love in Festival, the Habana Vieja festival, City in movement and the Artistic Laboratory of San Agustín (LASA); and spaces of sustained management, such as El Mejunje, a socio-cultural project in the city of Santa Clara, known first hand in the voice of its director, Silverio García; or from a then brazilian Factory of Cuban Art, from the experience of its main manager, X Alfonso. A turning point in the discussions -that converged in the will of the managers as the driving force of the development of the projects, in their willingness to assume certain risks and in their capacities to get up after tests-errors- came with the interventions related to the economy of culture and the management of concepts such as "cultural incubators", which meant the recognition of possible spaces that could offer risk coverage for the first trials.

This workshop put on the screen concrete proposals that could pave the way for a much greater exchange of experiences and contributions. A plural voice, more powerful than individual whispers. The path towards the realization of a network of Cuban cultural managers began, in which the same possibility of converging experiences, urgencies and dreams was advocated.

The ideas, edges and suggestions that were falling by the wayside after these two workshops, augurated the possibility of future exchanges, this time with greater pretensions.

First edition of AM-PM, in 2015, dedicated to the management and booking of musicians. In the photo, from left to right: Darsi Fernández, Yoana Grass, Paula Rivera, Karol Zigali. Photo: AM-PM.

And AM-PM is born

Several years passed before a new meeting was scheduled. Spaces were still scarce to debate and analyze the music industry, its challenges and opportunities, while the intentions and expectations of the community of managers who longed for these spaces grew.

This need for exchange generated the birth of AM-PM "America for its Music", a meeting point for professions and professionals in the music sector in Latin America, open to exchange with people from other areas of the world, especially those with vocation to work the music of our continent and to help them grow in their international visibility.

Organized by the Cuban Art Factory (FAC) with the collaboration of the Cuban Institute of Music, the Ministry of Culture of Cuba, the Spanish Association of International Cooperation (AECID), the House of the Americas, the House of Cultural Alba and the Embassies of Argentina and Norway in Havana, AM-PM had its first edition between June 18 and 21, 2015. This created a space for the meeting, shared experiences, as well as for training in relation to the different actions that make up the particular universe of this form of expression, such as art, industry and service space.

The participants shared their passion for music, creation and learning, as well as their interest in generating collaborative networks for the musical context of the peoples of the continent.

AM-PM set out to devote a part of its professional sessions every year to a work area within the music sector. That is why this first edition was dedicated to the work of the manager and booking agent, as well as the organization of live events and festivals; direct consequence of that first encounter in the House. It was the opportunity to listen to renowned managers of the continent, including Enrique Blanc, member of the Organizing Committee of the International Music Fair for Professionals (FIMPRO, Mexico) and the Uruguayan Gabriel Turielle, president of the Latin American Association of Managers Musicals.

There were four working days where talks and panels were held with the participation of thirty-eight professional delegates from twelve countries -Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador, Spain, the United States, Panama, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela and Cuba.

The intention to hold workshops -which marked the meetings in the House- was taken as a guideline so that each event had a training space. In its first edition, and in response to the international dimension that took the meeting, took place the workshop "Live Music Production and Music Management", given by the Argentine producers Paula Rivera and Karol Zingali. The workshop closed an expected project pitching session, in which Cuban independent producers presented both upcoming projects and business initiatives -either in the private sector or in the state sector- that already have visible results.

The first experiences of showcases also took place in a national event, which was already emerging as an important market-showcase for Cuban artists of different genres and formats.

The second encounter did not wait. In 2016, a new edition of AM-PM, this time around the art of communicating. The event was placed, intentionally, in the debate on the new paths and challenges of the Cuban and Ibero-American music scene, in order to participate in a substantive way in the cultural construction of music as experience and knowledge of our peoples.

With the awareness that our music will be heard and find natural receptors as long as we have the ability to make them resonate from information, criticism and analysis, the work of journalists, curators, media and communication platforms were taken as central axes for dialogue from the voices of its protagonists. The event, which took place between June 13 and 19, 2016, took the spaces of Fábrica de Arte Cubano and Casa de las Américas to discuss journalism, content curation and communication in the Ibero-American music scene.

Lectures, panels and animated debates were carried out by journalists and media, in which colleagues from Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, Mexico, the United States, Panama, Venezuela and Cuba participated. It marked intensely the route of these debates the intervention Radio Gladys Palmera. A love story, in the voices of Alejandra Fierro, creator and principal manager, and Álex Iglesias, content director. The challenges and trends of music journalism in Ibero-America, as well as networking in music journalism, were the working guidelines of those days.

Again, the meeting proposed a space for training, materialized in an academic workshop on music journalism taught by Betto Arcos, Enrique Blanc and Jaime Andrés Monsalve, prestigious members of the Network of Musical Journalists of Ibero-America (RedPeM.IB). He also opened the window to the creative debate where the relationship between new technologies and music were central themes, and musicians, producers, cultural managers, entrepreneurs and technological developers took part.

As in its previous edition, there were numerous collateral activities that included pitching sessions, showcases, book launches, plastic arts exhibitions, photographs, screen-printed posters and photographs; a meeting with music lovers and collectors of vinyl records, to which intense concert days were added, this time with musical protagonists of the continent. Thus, they arrived in Havana, Yael Mayer (Chile), Vivi Pozzebón (Argentina), Sol Pereyra (Argentina), the group Francisco el Hombre (Brazil), the Dominican trio of urban music Mula and the Colombian group Los Pirañas.

This productive effort showed the growth and good health of an encounter that proposed a growing challenge for its next edition.

Alejandra Fierro and Alex García, during the presentation of the iconic project Radio Gladys Palmera, from Spain, in the second edition of AM-PM, dedicated to journalism and content curation. Photo: Fernando Medina / AM-PM.

It was the turn of the musicians

In 2017 AM-PM did it again: it turned Havana into an obligatory meeting point for specialists from the world of music. In its third edition, the figure of the musical producer, the processes of studio production and sound engineering in the Latin American scene they were the center of dialogue. This gave way to actions that, for the first time in the history of the meeting, put the musician and his creative actions in the center of the voice of outstanding musical producers of the patio and the independent Latin American scene.

Despite uniting in one person artistic talent, updated knowledge about technology, the ability to analyze to understand its context, sense of entrepreneurship and collaboration, the music producer lacks recognition in the island's music scene even when it has a key role in the results we understand and enjoy as music, as well as in the dynamics that characterize its marketing circuits. These were the keys to a professional meeting that welcomed the work experiences of some thirty producers - more than twice the previous edition - from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, the United States, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela and Cuba. Listening to the experiences of Tweety González, Juancho Valencia, Eduardo Cabra or Andrés Mayo, among many others, was a privilege that contributed to the growth of all the participants.

With regard to the event, the first meeting in Cuba of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) was held, the only international professional society dedicated, exclusively, to audio technology.

It was a luxury for the young Cuban producers that AM-PM encouraged the arrival in Havana of Rob Jaczko, Daniel M. Thompson and Alejandro Rodríguez, directors and professors of the Department of Engineering and Music Production of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, they taught the workshop of Musical Production in the studio for three days, an experience that took place in Abdala Studios. It was undoubtedly the meeting that marked the highest point in the history of the event.

In the third edition of the event, dedicated to music production and sound engineering, some of the most outstanding professionals of the region met. In the photo, from left to right: Eduardo Cabra, Billy Herron, Pablo Soñora, Juancho Valencia, Daniel Pasquel, Ivis Flies, Alejandro Rodríguez, Andrés Levin, Daniel Thompson, Valeria Palomino, Ernesto Santos, Virgilio Rodríguez and Rob Jaczko. Photo: Dynamic Arts / AM-PM.

Without leaving to mark

The dream of achieving a Cuban music magazine, without distinction of genres or geographies, was long caressed by the AM-PM team, an endeavor that saw the light in 2018 with the birth of the Magazine AM-PM. The effort to move forward a publishing platform brought with it the 2018 meeting was more modest, but equally profound in its interest to mark spaces of necessary approach in the national musical field.

This time, the digital environment and the treatment of music in alternative spaces to the so-called conventional were the lines of work of a fruitful exchange that took place in the workshop "AM-PM, America for its Music. Self-management of Music in digital environments "on the premises of the Cuban Art Factory. The meeting proposed as objectives the apprehension and use of the new management resources that arise from the use of new information and communication technologies and, therefore, generate beneficial convergences between the actors of the music scene and They project their works to larger circuits.

This workshop -which mainly hosted Cuban experiences-, was attended by Ismael Comas and Ariel Etbul, representatives of Ditto Music, a British content aggregator, who addressed the significant paradigm changes of the last decade in relation to the digital universe of the music.

Concert by the outstanding Brazilian artist Céu, in the third edition of AM-PM, in 2017. Photo: Gabriel Guerra Bianchini / AM-PM.

With the look set in the future

The vital journey of AM-PM has important and positive balances, beyond its nature as a professional meeting: it has generated professional training spaces for particularly depressed scenarios on the national scene; it has served as a promotion and market platform for new Latin American and Cuban bands, and in turn, it has allowed "coming out of the closet" to numerous national management projects that today sustain - from different fronts - the Cuban music industry.

Taking the pulse of what happens in the music industry, each edition of AM-PM focuses on updating and growing our own industry, touching on high points, putting the accent on the topics that most need reflection.

It is unfortunate that a project with these results and so necessary has not had enough institutional support and resources to guarantee its continuity with the same strength that it achieved a couple of years ago.

Despite seeing the sustainability of their project compromised, the team continues to create. There are many topics that still need to be addressed: those training spaces in popular music, or legitimization such as festivals, markets, fairs, prizes, security in large-scale events, or new circulation paradigms for recorded music, to mention just some of them. For the moment, under the theme Communication and Marketing in music will occur a new meeting between June 17 and 22.

With the diversification of its areas of action and interest, AM-PM continues its efforts to position itself as one of the reference places in the Latin American market circuit. A deserved and won place, which has no fixed schedule.

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