ONGEA! summit: Festival bookers come scouting for Eastern African talent

With 15 days left to the second edition of ONGEA! Eastern Africa’s music summit to be held at the Sarit Centre Expo Hall in Westlands, Nairobi, organizers are putting plans in place to fly in international festival bookers and owners in a bid to uplift the music industry in the region by exporting local talent.  

Sonya Mazumdar runs the annual music and film trade event, IndiEarth XChange. Photo:http:
Sonya Mazumdar runs the annual music and film trade event, IndiEarth XChange. Photo:http:

Confident that musicians from Eastern Africa are ready for the global circuit of festivals, Mike Strano, Founder and Executive Director of PHAT! Music & Entertainment Limited, which is behind the event, says the region’s artists need to earn from these performances, market their music to new audiences, generate revenue from digital distribution, and market themselves to record labels and booking agents around the world.

“While many bookers have programmed acts from Northern, Central, Southern and Western Africa, they may not be aware of acts from Eastern Africa to book. One of the Objectives of ONGEA! is to spotlight this region,” said Strano.

To achieve this, ONGEA! flies in four festival owners or bookers each year for a deal in which they commit to taking at least one of the 32 showcase acts from the summit for a festival. Four Eastern African acts will therefore tour four different continents. This should be an all-expenses-paid trip with tickets, visas, accommodation, insurance, meals, per diems and performance fees taken care of. In return, the booker gets an all-expenses-paid working holiday to Kenya, complete with a safari.

Last year’s ONGEA! Deal involved Brahim El Mazned (Timitar Festival and Visa for Music); Faisal Kiwewa (Bayimba Festival and DOADOA); Isabelle Messer (Georg Leitner Productions (GLP))

Notable achievements were the signing of H_Art the Band and Mswazzi Masauti to Austrian-based booking Agent, GLP; as well as Sauti Sol being booked to perform at the largest festival in Africa – Timitar, of Morocco – in July this year.

For ONGEA! 2017, the organizers have confirmed Jess White of AKUM Agency from Mozambique, who is the coordinator for the AZGO Festival in Maputo and who has been instrumental in developing Igoda, an innovative circuit of music festivals in Southern Africa.

Also confirmed is Sonya Mazumdar, the Founder and CEO of EarthSync, a music production house and award-winning documentary film and festivals producer.

Well versed with cross-cultural artistic collaborations in music and film, EarthSync runs the annual IndiEarth XChange in Chennai, South India. It is India’s definitive trade event for independent music, film and media with a specific focus on linking India, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Indian Ocean region.

An avid traveller and writer, Sonya has over 20 years experience in project management in the infrastructure and content industries in India, West Africa and Asia.

The organizers are still in talks with festival bookers from the Americas and Europe, and details of these will be communicated here shortly.

Formerly the Kenya Music Week, the summit was rebranded after 10 years. While the scope of the event is broader, its three pillars still remain: Trade, Learn and Showcase. There will be 58 exhibition stands, eight panel discussions and 32 performances, with participants drawn from local, regional and international practitioners.

The participating countries include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Rwanda, Burundi, Comoros, Eritrea, Reunion, Seychelles, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mauritius, South Sudan and Somalia.







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