By Bakary Ceesay
Music industry professionals from more than 50 countries are set to travel to Accra, Ghana, for the much-awaited Music In Africa Conference for Collaborations, Exchange and Showcases (ACCES), taking place on 28, 29 and 30 November 2019.
Now in its third edition, ACCES is the leading pan-African music business event organised by the Music In Africa Foundation in a different African city every year. This year’s robust programme features an exciting roster of musicians and industry experts from all corners of the globe.
Global superstar Akon is one of the leading speakers at this year’s event. The five-time Grammy nominee joins a star-studded line-up that includes top Ghanaian musicians and experts such as Sarkodie, Efya, Samini, Kyekyeku, John Collins, Ebo Taylor, Bibie Brew and Wanlov the Kubolor.
Other high-profile speakers and facilitators at ACCES 2019 will be Chocolate City vice-president Aibee Abidoye (Nigeria), Ditto Music founder and CEO Lee Parsons (UK), Airforce1 Records managing director Joe Chialo (Germany), Gallo Music Group general manager Rob Cowling (South Africa), Boulevard Festival co-director Hicham Bahou (Morocco), TRUE Africa founder and editor-in-chief Claude Grunitzky (Togo/UK), Simfy OTT music services head Oye Akideinde (Nigeria), Boomplay Ghana manager Elizabeth Ntiamoah (Ghana), Nyege Nyege Festival co-founder Derek Debru (Belgium/Uganda) and Grammy-nominated musician, author and rights activist Mark Levine (US), among many others.
ACCES offers delegates a wide variety of activities, including carefully curated panel discussions, exhibitions, networking and pitching sessions, production workshops and showcases (live performances) by musical acts from Africa and the diaspora. ACCES 2019 will be spread across three venues, namely the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (for the conference programme), Alliance Française (for evening live performances on 28 and 30 November) and the Gold Coast Hub (for performances on 29 November).
ACCES 2019 will feature an eclectic and bold line-up of showcasing artists. Confirmed artists are Mokoomba (Zimbabwe), Songhoy Blues (Mali), Gato Preto (Mozambique and Ghana but based in Germany), Arka’n (Togo), Sibusile Xaba (South Africa), Ifrikya Spirit (Algeria), Lúcia de Carvalho (Angola but based in France), and Bholoja (eSwatini), as well as locals Yaa Yaa, Kyekyeku & Ghanalogue Highlife, FOKN Bois, Cina Soul and FRA!
Gato Preto, Songhoy Blues and Lúcia de Carvalho will perform at ACCES 2019 courtesy of ACCES’ reciprocal partnership with Reeperbahn Festival International – one of the most important meeting places for the music industry worldwide and Europe’s largest club festival based in Hamburg, Germany.
As with previous editions, ACCES will offer highly interactive workshops designed for musicians, producers, sound engineers, as well as film and videogame composers. The ACCES workshop programme reflects the conference’s vision to embolden music professionals with new knowledge and skills. The trade event will feature two distinct training workshops that will explore music production essentials, and music for film, facilitated by Kofi ‘IamBeatMenace’ Boachie and Stephan Eicke respectively.
ACCES 2019 will host a curated exhibition area where innovators and service providers in the music industry will get to present their products and ideas throughout the duration of the music conference. This year sees the introduction of the Exhibitor Hubs, an innovative, tech-oriented space where companies and organisations will present their new products and services.
ACCES will also programme a number of Pitch Sessions, which are ideal opportunities that startups can use to present their ideas to an audience of potential partners, collaborators, clients and funders. Pitchers get 10 minutes to present their concepts, answer questions and get feedback from the audience members, many of whom will be industry leaders on the lookout for the next big idea.
Honouring Ghanaian music legends
ACCES 2019 will kick off on 28 November with the Music In Africa Honorary Award ceremony where Ghanaian legends Ebo Taylor and Bibie Brew will be awarded for their outstanding contribution to their home country’s music industry and that of Africa as a whole. They will join previous award recipients Baaba Maal (2017) and Eric Wainaina (2018).
ACCES is a pan-African trade event for music industry players to exchange ideas, discover new talent and create business linkages. ACCES is held in a different African city every year, attracting active music industry players from across the globe.
ACCES is organised by the Music In Africa Foundation, a non-profit and pan-African organisation, in partnership and with the support of Siemens Stiftung, Goethe-Institut, Reeperbahn Festival International, Alliance Française, BMG, MediaSound Hamburg, the Multimedia Group, Africa Art Lines, Afrikayna, the Gold Coast Hub, the Year of Return, the Prince Claus Fund and the ANT Mobility Grant from Pro Helvetia Johannesburg, financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
This year ACCES has a partnership with Reeperbahn Festival. The partnership creates a framework for the festival to collaborate with ACCES in facilitating sustainable business engagements and exchange between European and African music businesses and professionals, as well as the provision of performance opportunities to musicians in both territories.
BMG is the new model music company founded in 2008 as a response to the challenges of the digital revolution in the music industry. As part of its unique approach, BMG represents the traditionally separate music publishing and recording rights off the same platform internationally. The company is the world’s fourth biggest music publisher and one of the first new global players in the recordings business. BMG has 15 offices across 12 core music markets, representing over 3 million songs and recordings, including the catalogues of global stars such as Chrysalis, Bug, Virgin, Mute, Sanctuary, Primary Wave and Talpa Music, as well as thousands of artists and songwriters.