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Fri 9 Jan 2009 04:00 AM

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Stand together or fall alone

Flick through any newspaper, turn on any TV, or simply listen to the banter on the street and there is no way of escaping the fact that the credit crunch has sunk its merciless teeth into a large chunk of the global business community.

Flick through any newspaper, turn on any TV, or simply listen to the banter on the street and there is no way of escaping the fact that the credit crunch has sunk its merciless teeth into a large chunk of the global business community.

And, while the wake of the economic crisis will not discriminate, it means that companies of all levels will be forced to play the game smarter in order to escape the wrath. In many ways, this can be taken as a positive, particularly in the local live events and production sector.

As consumer and retail spending eases across the board, Middle East industry experts have identified that the current local economic environment will be a challenge, but many remain optimistic that by adjusting business practicess and becoming more multifaceted the industry will be able weather the storm.

Additionally, while some sectors of the broader music industry are licking their wounds and tallying their losses, the live music industry appears to be thriving in many sectors.

Undoubtedly, various businesses associated with live sound, from regional rental companies to bands themselves, have tightened their belts by a few notches, while at the same time becoming more creative in developing new revenue streams. But, indicators suggest that there is not the level of anxiety forecast for this sector of the business as there is, for example, within the recording industry.

A major point of importance for the local industry, as it faces its own direct challenges with rising production costs and increased ticket prices, is that it needs to focus more on vertical business models, while upholding a strong audience base to ensure that live music remains to be viewed as good value for money during what are likely to be difficult months ahead.

Some key areas that demand attention for 2009, and in order to help the industry prevail and deliver more diverse opportunities are: more pro-actively promoting the local music industry and providing greater publicity, visibility and exposure for smaller musical organisations; networking with industry and location competitors to cultivate a healthier enterprise for all industry players through greater transparency in operational costs; improving community resources, including providing business-education and training for music industry folk; reducing traffic congestion to and from events and introducing additional performance spaces in the region, with the latter being of utmost importance for the industry to grow.

Furthermore, hard times will call for the industry to pull together, combine resources and tackle the challenges together as a united front, which will inevitably support the bigger industry.

So, ultimately the fate of the local industry lies in the hands of its players and the challenge it faces is not an ambiguous one: either stand and fight together, or fall alone.

Kelly Lewis is the editor of Sound & Stage Middle East.

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