Saudi’s ‘Huge Potential’ Discussed Ahead Of Soundstorm Festival

Subramaniam was speaking on Day One of XP Music Futures
Shridhar Subramaniam in conversation with Nada Alhelabi on day one of MDLBeast’s XP Music Futures conference.

Various music biz professionals speaking at the second XP Music Futures conference in Riyadh, Nov. 28-30, addressed the potential of Saudi Arabian artists, including Mathew Knowles, and Shridhar Subramaniam, Sony Music’s president of corporate strategy & market development for Asia and the Middle East.

MDLBeast: Born In Riyadh, At Home In The World

In a one-on-one session with conference director Nada Alhelabi, Subramaniam discussed how a music ecosystem in its infancy could go on to compete globally. One of his predictions was that Middle Eastern music would follow in the footsteps of South Korea’s K-POP, becoming a worldwide phenomenon within the next ten to 15 years.

He said that language wasn’t a barrier anymore, and listed further reasons why music from the region could go global: the quality of music, driven by internationally renowned producers working with local artists to create a global sound; iconography and visualization (Subramaniam: “When a music video comes out of this part of the world – Morocco, as an example – you know it’s a Moroccan video. There’s a visual stamp and a signature.”); the people’s appetite for this music, as shown by Spotify and YouTube data.

The driving force behind Destinys Child Mathew Knowles
Mathew Knowles told the mostly young audience at XP: “Be like you.”

Knowles, the architect of the careers of Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé, also spoke at the conference. His advice to young Saudi Arabian performers was: “Be like you – we already have Beyoncé. What we need is the next new person. Create your own style and artistry. Yes, learn from those that are great but it’s all about being true to yourself and being your own artist. That’s why we call it artistry – we don’t call it copycat.”

And, speaking about XP Music Futures, he said, “South by Southwest in Austin started out much smaller than this and now averages millions of people over a 30-day period – the same thing could happen here. With such a young population, I think there’s tremendous growth for music in Saudi Arabia.”

The second XP Music Futures featured 76 sessions across three days of XP Music Futures, revolving around the conferences four pillars, talent, impact, scene and innovation.

The conference leads into the third edition of Soundstorm festival, Dec. 1-3, which features the usual list of the world’s greatest names and most promising new talent in electronic music.

Hip hop takes center stage as well, Dec. 2, when DJ Khaled will present his “DJ Khaled & Friends” set, where he’ll be joined by Busta Rhymes, Fat Joe, Future, Rick Ross, and T.I.

MDLBeast COO and head of talent bookings and events, Talal Albahiti, said Soundstorm 2022 featured “the biggest ever program of internationally acclaimed artists,” adding, “The feedback from the international talent has been incredible, and we’re seeing more and more artists from abroad looking to come out to our festival to perform, which aligns with our mission to provide fans with the best possible experience.”

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