After a chance encounter at Midem 2015, Martin Goldschmidt, Co-founder and Managing Director of Cooking Vinyl Group and Essential Music & Marketing, became involved with what would become, for him, a life-changing event. Here, he tells us all about it!
midemblog: How did this adventure begin?
Martin Goldschmidt: It started at Midem. It was a f***up. I did a keynote at Midem 2015, and this guy came up to me afterwards and said he enjoyed it. Would I like to be his guest at a showcase event that he curated in Israel?, he asked. I thought, never been there, sounds like fun, and so accepted…
The guy in question was Jeremy Hulash from Tune in Tel Aviv. A couple of months later I wrote back to him Hulash, and said if I was going to Israel, then I also wanted to meet and try to help Palestinian musicians. He kindly hooked me up. Saz (rapper) and Rami (activist) met me at the airport and took me to Ramallah in the West bank. That night, we ended up in a pub at midnight with a musician on acoustic guitar and some of Palestine’s finest rappers freestyling. A gig I will remember for the rest of my life.
To cut a long story short, 3 Palestinians (Rami Younis – activist, Abed Hadout – from Khalas, and Mahmood Jhere from Dam) and I thought that if Israel has a showcase event, then why not Palestine. And so, PMX was born.
Without the support from family, friends and my network it wouldn’t have happened.
> How did the PMX concept then take shape?
We decided that Palestine Music Expo would be about empowering artists who do not usually have a voice. Due to the current political conditions, there is little industry to speak of in Palestine, which makes it challenging for promising local artists to be heard and promoted around the world. So PMX brings the world to Palestine!
Local artists can learn from specialist panel discussions, and interact with internationally renowned experts from how to get an agent, to copyright law or starting a record label. International delegates get the opportunity to travel on tour of refugee camps in Ramallah and Nablus, where they meet local musicians and hear about their lives.
> What is the most touching memory of this experience?
PMX 2017 was the biggest musical event in my life in the last 5 years. The story started in Qalandia refugee camp. Thirty minutes by car from Tel Aviv is Qalandia checkpoint, the main entry point through the wall to the West Bank. 50 yards from the checkpoint, is the refugee camp.
My son and I were in a group of 15 PMX delegates from the international music industry to see around the camp. Our guides were 3 very eloquent teenagers and they told us many stories that gave us a hint of what life in the camp is like. The walls were riddled with holes from bullets and grenades. Everywhere were posters to remember people who had been killed. Some of the stories were of the Israeli army, others were of the challenges living in Palestine, others were about the refugee camp internal laws and codes.
At one point we passed were passing a shop in the camp. The owner stopped us and insisted on giving all us arabic coffee and falafel. He wouldn’t accept payment and smiled. It was a tough place but we were always met with smiles and hospitality.
> Did you succeed in accomplishing your mission, to find local musicians?
The tour ended in a small hot dusty room, beneath a funeral parlour just 50 yards from the checkpoint. It had a mic and a couple of speakers. They started rapping. It was electric. We fell in love with them. We decided to give them their first gig, a slot on the main stage at PMX (April 2017). By the end of the show they had a booking agent and were booked for a festival in Switzerland!!! They had never left the West Bank before. In June, Sa’aleek (top photo & below video) were the hit of Bad Born Kilby festival.
> How the experience should inspire fellow music business people/what can they do to change things?
With PMX, we want to change the mentality of the music sector by opening the doors to Palestine, both to international acts who consider it as a tourist destination and to aid the insertion of Palestinian musicians in the global market. We are determined to start trying to change the perspectives for these musicians.
No artist should have to go what these guys go through daily to do what they love, especially when the chances of breaking out of the local market given the current situation are almost zero.
PMX needs the best support to change this and I hope together we can begin to add Palestine to the touring map and Palestinian musicians to our rosters. It has so much to offer to the music market.
More about PMX via Music Business Worldwide, here
Top photo: Sa’aleek, a rap group discovered at PMX 2017