We caught up with Daneesh of Kilma Studios and Ade of Co-sign, two companies with a strong bond and a burning mission: to bring talent in the UAE to life, especially in the field of urban music.

What is your vision for the music industry in the Arab world?

Daneesh: I think the music industry in the Arab World is already quite established and is doing well for itself. Acts like Amr Diab, Hussein Al Jasmi and Nancy Ajram have already put us on the map.  I would like to see the day when the urban music industry of the Middle East, both in English and Arabic, reaches a point where our artists produce music of a quality so high that we no longer require international acts to sell out stadiums and musicians can sustain their lifestyle by making music.  I would like to see the day where international acts aspire to feature OUR artists on THEIR songs and not vice versa. Considering that the urban music industry of the Middle East is still so young, I see plenty of potential for sustainable growth of this kind.

Ade: Growth! I’ll like to see it reach the same status as the European industry where artists can tour the region, headline their own concerts, sell out stadiums or arenas, achieving that by producing quality music regardless of the genre, but I want to hear a song produced in the region in a blockbuster Hollywood movie as the official soundtrack.

Ade, your recent blog-post on www.cosignworld.com addresses the issue of people not wanting to buy CDs anymore. How would you advise talent agencies to tackle this issue?

Ade – I think we should all stick together: agencies, management, representatives, fans, and artists!  Collectively, we can identify, understand and address the real reasons people refuse to buy the album of local artists. Like I said in the blog, it could be because they’re not convinced it’s worth their hard earned money. Also, I think a good way of tackling the issue is making compilations, getting the artists to work together, joint projects, albums, collaborations. Maybe also tell the artists signed to these agencies, to make good music, period! I still believe that good music sells, if they like it, they’ll buy it. Agencies should organize meet & greets, listening sessions, album reviews, and get people’s honest feedback before any album is released.

What does Kilma do, and what does Co-sign do, and how are they affiliated if at all?

Daneesh: Kilma oversees the creative, technical and artist development side of things. For example we would take care of things such as Songwriting, Music Production, Recording, On- Stage Development amongst other things. We have worked with a number of extremely talented regional artists such as:

Desert Heat

Deen

Noush Like Sploosh

Dj Lobito

Jibberish

Hamdan Al Abri

Rojeh

Prince Q

Co Sign oversees most of the business and media relations, things such as brand affiliations, endorsements, sponsorship, tour bookings etc.

Ade: Co-Sign is a talent & branding agency & Kilma is a record label & studio. Our affiliation is not primarily a business one, it’s more like an extended family. Because we cover 2 of the major districts of the music business, which are production & representation, it gives us a natural affiliation to work together and enables us to offer our artists a complete service package. While Co-sign has plans to start operating an independent label in the future, right now our priority is strictly, artist branding, management & representation.

Kilma: What do you look for when you sign artists?

Daneesh: The first thing I really look for, even before talent in most cases is the determination to succeed under any circumstances. After that, we look for artists with originality and a distinct point of differentiation. Talent is a given but nowadays talent on its own is not enough to succeed. Each artist has to be equipped with talent, an uncanny level of perseverance and most importantly belief in his/her craft.

Daneesh, you recently went to the USA to explore the music industry there. What can you tell us about your findings?

Daneesh: My last trip was actually quite an eye opener for me. For the last two years Ade and I would spend a lot of time discussing why the industry wasn’t growing to where we would like to see it and we always came up with a multitude of reasons and issues that were not necessarily our fault. i.e lack of radio support, lack of media support, songs not being played in clubs, etc. So this year I spent some time in New York and LA with some pretty well established music executives that have been in the business for over 30 years and the one thing that stood out from al our conversations was hunger.

In the US, almost every artist worth his salt is hungry for a CHANCE, not fame, not money, not status just a CHANCE to prove that they are worth someone investing their time, money and resources into their craft. In the back of their mind they know that there is an intense level of competition within the industry and that if they mess up that ONE chance there is ALWAYS someone better just waiting to capitalize on their mistakes and that it is going to be extremely difficult to come back from it.

I find that in the Middle East a lot of talented artists do not approach their music with the same level of enthusiasm and seriousness as artists in other parts of the world like North America and Europe. This could be due to a number of reasons, but it does not change the fact that hard work and persistence pays off. It basically boils down to this: If we ever want our industry and artists to shine, EVERYBODY has to work hard and treat it like it’s the only chance we’ll ever have. There is no room for complacency or second chances.

What advice would you give to an aspiring artist in the region?

Daneesh: Plain and simple: be original, be true to your craft, innovate and don’t ever give up. A little help doesn’t hurt either. Get at us info@thekilma.cominfo@cosignworld.com.

Ade: Be original!

You can follow Daneesh on twitter @kilmastudios & Ade at @cosigned !

Don’t forget to hit us up at @MideastDynasty and let us know what you think!