In December 2021, the MDLBeast Soundstorm music festival in Riyadh broke records by
hosting over 200 artists and 750k visitors (both, local and international) in only 4 days. This phenomenon clearly indicates a thirst and passion for music in Saudi Arabia. However, to truly realize the goals of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia needs to invest in its own people’s musical talents, providing them with the education and jobs that can put them on the stage or even behind the scenes of local and global arenas.
The launch of XP Music Futures, which holds an annual music conference in Riyadh, is one such initiative that is being followed by others. In fact, since its establishment in early 2019,
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture (MOC) launched multiple projects aimed at enriching and diversifying local cultural production in line with the goals of Vision 2030. By aiming to create jobs and elevate local talents in the music industry, the ministry can boost the economy and enhance the national identity while also building bridges with cultures around the world. With sufficient encouragement and the right opportunities, Saudi Arabia’s musical sphere can thrive.
Using Virtual Learning to Create a Musical Reality
In its quest to nurture and transform the Saudi cultural landscape, MOC worked with TAM to create San’ah and launch it on March 30, 2021. San’ah is an interactive virtual music training program, held in partnership with The School of Music Business, a leading music industry education institution. The program’s aim is to enrich and elevate the local musical output, empower 500 talents, and create new job opportunities in this sector.
TAM employed a mix of digital and direct marketing for the program’s launch. Social platforms, including WhatsApp, Google Search, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat were used to advertise the upcoming program. The additional use of emails and social media influencers resulted in a total of 1642 application submissions. After ensuring English language proficiencies (via certified tests or a degree) and undergoing other evaluation measures to ascertain the applicants’ ability to keep up with the program, 647 final participants were accepted from the application pool.
The San’ah program focused on skills that can be taught virtually and created three training tracks to choose from: 1) Studio Operation and Sound Engineering, 2) Artist Management, and 3) DJ Skills. All three tracks were preceded by a mandatory course covering the essentials of the music industry, from its importance and the fields it offers, to its operation in the market. Upon course completion, participants received a certificate, as well as an individual session with field experts to discuss future plans tailored to their goals.
Participants attended virtual theoretical and practical lessons in their chosen track between July 29, 2021 and January 31, 2022, which included participating in group discussions, Q&As, and skill application. Those within the Studio Operation and Sound Engineering track took on audio editing, mixing, mastering, and digital solutions; participants in the Artist Management track studied marketing and distribution, artist evaluation, contracts, and relations management; and those in the DJ Skills track learnt everything from scratch, including key software techniques which led to creating their first recordings.
Throughout the program’s duration, TAM worked closely with all parties to ensure lesson quality, participant attendance, and adherence to deadlines to guarantee their maximum benefit. This consisted of activating communication channels to send reminders about upcoming sessions, as well as maintaining consistent contact between the institution and participants for any updates or questions.
During the entire process, the participants received continuous individual advice, and their performance was evaluated based on pre-set criteria, including the extent of their dedication, their level of interaction, and the quality of their work. Ultimately, the participants presented projects and completed multiple surveys regarding the level of their satisfaction with the program’s quality and their employment status. All this equipped them with the tools to succeed in the field, while their input and end results provided data to cultivate and improve the tools for future participants and retain them to the end of the program.
Overall, 410 participants completed the program and received a certificate. Moreover, 100+
San’ah participants were recognized for their excellence and were thus invited to the XP Music
Conference in Riyadh, held in collaboration between the Music Commission and MDLBeast.
There, they received support from the Music Commission and other governmental entities, presenting them with further industry opportunities in line with the National Transformation Program and Quality of Life Program. Such results enable the program’s participants to embark on their career path while standing on firm ground, elevating Saudi Arabia’s musical production to international standards, and inspiring more people to partake in doing the same. With that, Saudi Vision 2030 can materialize, graduate by graduate.