Siedah Garrett singing I Just Cant Stop Loving You at Dubai Music Week, hosted by Quincy Jones A project such as Dubai Music Week does have tremendous potential for social impact and has the potential to be profitable in the long term, says Mr. Jafar, who booked Will.i.am, Timbaland and Selena Gomez for the main concerts this year, but plans to book more niche, lesser well-known acts for Dubai Rocks and Dubai Classics. The move to offer bands or acts that have not necessarily shot to global stardom yet is a fairly new trend in Dubai, as expats and citizens have generally been viewed as having less sophisticated musical palates than other markets. Yes, many acts with blockbuster appeal have been booked in the past year Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, Usher, Katy Perry and Alicia Keys but promoters are also signing smaller bands that have a more niche appeal, such as The Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men, who are supporting The Killers at the Sandance festival. When it comes to acts that are less commercial in their pull, then festivals work better, explains Thomas Ovesen, chief operating officer at Done Events, the promoter that booked The Lumineers for a new festival it is organising in February called RedFest DXB, in conjunction with Virgin Radio Dubai. Mr. Ovesen hopes to sign up more smaller acts and sell 20,000 tickets at 250 U.A.E. dirhams ($68) to AED300 over two days to break even. He says Dubai is still paying a premium for artists due to its global glitzy image. Its not like 10 years ago, when we had to explain to artists, particularly from the U.S., that Dubai is far from Baghdad, says Mr. Ovesen. Industry insiders estimate that premium is usually at about 40%, compared to the cost of booking acts in Europe, and sometimes even as high as double. However, Adam Grundey, the editor of Rolling Stone Middle East, is not completely convinced residents in Dubai are ready for smaller niche acts, as even popular Middle Eastern artists are difficult to make profitable for promoters and there is little in the way of a home-grown music scene in the emirate. Even The Lumineers, he points out, have had a big radio hit in Hey Ho and are not so niche that no one has heard of them. I think promoters are looking at bringing in cooler bands now, says Mr.
Two blocks from FitzGerald’s Nightclub a 33-year-old spot that draws local and national acts,, four Chicago-area music professionals are partnering to open Wire, a venue, school and recording space described as an incubator for musical ideas. The endeavor is the latest in a procession of dining and entertainment destinations opening on Roosevelt Road, sparking some big hopes for the area. “The idea is, down the line, this could be Austin, Texas,” said Chris Neville, the principal investor in Wire and musical director of Tributosaurus, a popular Chicago group that pays tribute to well-known musical acts. As the city of Berwyn uses colorful billboards to encourage Chicago-area residents to “make the move” to the western suburb, FitzGerald said he is seeing results. In the last few years, diners from new restaurants such as Autre Monde and Capri have been showing up at his club, he said. He predicts Wire concertgoers and students also will fan out to other neighborhood businesses. “That whole destination thing, there’s something to that,” said FitzGerald, who compares what he is seeing to the game “Monopoly.” “This little strip here from FitzGerald’s down to the Wire you’re starting to see some houses on those monopolies,” he said, referring to the board game’s development options. “I think Berwyn wants to see hotels.” Boosted by a recent $10 million streetscape improvement project, Roosevelt Road is being developed as the town’s “entertainment corridor,” said Berwyn Development Corp. Executive Director Anthony Griffin. “We do have some thoughts of building upon the music scene of Roosevelt Road,” Griffin said. The corporation, which contracts with the city, dedicated about $230,000 in local taxes toward the $1.2 million Wire renovation, Griffin said. The money came from a tax increment financing program, which diverts tax dollars from the city and schools toward economic development projects, he said. Wire is projected to generate nearly $50,000 per year in property and sales taxes, he said.