At XP Music Futures 2023, we spoke to Yasmine Rasool, Head of Programming, about the job, the region and more.

XP Music Futures is a three-day music conference organised by MDL BEAST. The event offers a dynamic program with over 250 speakers drawn from all corners of the globe. It’s also a regional first and encompasses panels, workshops, live acts and retail experiences.

The conference also includes XP NITE, featuring over 130 artists across seven stages. It’s a lot to tie together – so what does it take? We caught up with Yasmine Rasool, who helps guide the vision as Head of Programming.

xp music futures

Attack: Could you tell us a bit about who you are and your role?

Yasmine Rasool: Sure, I studied Fine Arts & Psychology and worked in art therapy for the longest time. I also set up my own business, WAASTAA, about 13 years ago to help Middle Eastern artists get funding. I’ve been based in many places, from London to Montreal to Dubai, but now I’m based in Lisbon.

Am sure artists love that! Are there any artists we might know?

One you might know is The Narcissist, an Iraqi rapper who is very popular across this region but also in Canada, where he was raised.

Could you tell us how you got the role at MDL Beast?

After I launched my social channel @WAASTAA to help promote Middle Eastern artists to the rest of the world, MDL BEAST gave me an opportunity to extend these goals further and showcase the wealth of talent in the Middle East.

xp music futures

Interesting. So what does the Head of Programming do?

Well, I curate the event but also make XP a transformative platform, ie to converge global industry leaders and spark cross-cultural dialogue and collaborative initiatives.

What’s something people misunderstand when you say you’re head of programming?

When I say “I’m Head of Programming”, it’s really about orchestrating a harmonious convergence of ideas. But often, people think it’s just “Head Of Technical Coding!”

What’s the angle for this year’s XP Conference? And has it been different to last year?

Every year, we add a new element of focus. This year, it’s partners as in partners to help build the workshops, the programming, and the talent while also morphing a mix of regional and international focus. That was our main focus for 2023.

So we have Spotify, we have YouTube, and we have a female initiative called Hunna. The Music Commission is sponsoring that, while YouTube is sponsoring the Music Expo forum.

xp music futures
75% of the population here is under 35

Are there any cultural considerations handling the programming for XP? Are there things you need to be conscious about based on the region? 

Programming for XP demands a nuanced understanding of regional sensibilities. It’s crucial to strike a balance that celebrates both local creativity and international perspectives.

Where did the inspiration come from for XP?

IMS is a leading reference as an industry platform. Also, there are elements of SXSW, but that’s so big, so we just looked at a few elements we felt were most appropriate.

What’s a high of the job?

It is very fulfilling to link global leaders with regional talent and encourage innovation.

xp music futures

And a low of the job?

Obstacles are inevitable, yet they encourage development. It can be challenging to manage differing expectations and get over practical obstacles. The team is ready for the challenge, however.

What advice would you give someone looking for a job in music? 

I would say to seek roles that align with your passion and values. Embrace networking and stay abreast of industry trends. My career has thrived on connecting global professionals, and I encourage aspiring music enthusiasts to build a diverse and supportive network.

I read a statistic that 75% of the population here is under 35. What do you tell them as part of the conference?

Yes I’ve seen that. Well, for the youth here, XP can help them understand what different jobs you can get in the music industry.

It’s important to tell them it’s not just about being ‘talent’. There are other roles like stage production, music production, licensing, publishing and so on. One of our main mandates for XP is to get the youth into the wider music industry and to make people dance…!

Does XP exist just in Saudi?

The main conference is, but we do workshops in different parts of the Middle East. So we were just in Cairo, where we were doing a focus group. That gathers as much information as possible to improve our workshop programming.

I heard a comment yesterday at a panel, from someone representing Vietnamese Music Week. She said they run panels in English, but feel they should do it in Vietnamese. Do you feel like XP should be in Arabic but with English subtitles?

This year, 45% of it is in Arabic, which is different from previous years. And on social media it’s Arabic and English. What’s great is we’re getting a larger Arabic audience this year – so I agree with her. it’s important, very important.

Have you considered trying to get manufacturers in?

Yes! We’re working on it. I’m sure more products will be displayed next year than we have currently.

Yes it would be great. One aspect of ADE is you can try new gear and also keep up to date with the music industry. It would be great to see manufacturers from the region displaying their latest hardware and software.

Yes – that’s all part of the road map. Watch this space!

Find out more about XP Conference.

Find Yasmeen Rassool on IG.

Find XP Music Futures on Instagram.

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Author ericadmin
19th January, 2024

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