When it comes to nations with a loud and proud approach to native cultural music, most people around the world think of the lively Caribbean island nation of Jamaica. Steel drums, Reggae, and boisterous festivals are commonplace in Jamaica. As a result, it is hard to imagine there is a place that can rival Jamaica’s festive atmosphere. Tucked away in the Indian Ocean, however, the small island of La Reunion has the musical power to challenge Jamaica’s prowess.
In order for cultural music to take hold and become noticed around the globe, though, it requires the hard work and dedication of a select few who believe that hidden gems should be shared with the wider world. The Indian Ocean Music Market (IOMMA) was created in 2010 to serve that exact purpose.

IOMMA’s Beginnings and Inspiration

IOMMA

2013 IOMMA participants. Photo: Fatch

Creole culture is one of the most unique on planet Earth. In countries around the globe, there are Creole cultures that not only share commonalities across thousands of miles, but also have their own qualities that make them unique. IOMMA was started in 2010 to help bring together Creole musicians throughout the region, establishing a connection between Creoles on the African mainland with those located throughout the Indian Ocean and as far away as Australia.
The inspiration behind the founding of IOMMA was the promotion of one of Creole culture’s greatest characteristics: unique music and the local musicians responsible for its creation. IOMMA hosts an annual conference and numerous panel discussions each year aimed at tackling problems facing Creole musicians.
Issues IOMMA works to meet head on include the promotion of local music and musicians, cultural cooperation between the countries of the Indian Ocean region, organizing festivals and tours, and challenges in expanding the growth of different genres such as jazz or electro.
The specific goals of IOMMA include the following long term objectives:

  • Developing a regional network connecting artists and professionals in the music industry throughout the Indian Ocean.
  • Hosting seminars, training sessions, and the general exchange of professional expertise amongst those in the Indian Ocean music industry.
  • Help local and regional musicians grow their networks throughout the Indian Ocean and around the globe.

Achieving its Goals

Vision can only take a programme so far; at some point there needs to be a clear road map for achieving goals in order to consider IOMMA’s mission accomplished. In order to meet its goals, IOMMA works to create a level playing field for musicians from Creole cultures both large and small, across all genres of music whether it is modern or traditional.
IOMMA works to achieve its goals through three means: conferences and workshops, one-on-ones, and showcases. The organization hosts conferences and workshops on a regular basis aimed at putting a panel of music professionals in front of issues facing the industry and working to propose solutions to the problems facing the growth of Indian Ocean music.
Occasionally, IOMMA will also sponsor one-on-one time for artists with music professionals from different regions of the world. Artists and local music professionals get a limited amount of time to sit face-to-face with producers, managers, and other professionals to gain perspective on the industry and pick up knowledge that can help guide their careers.
Finally, IOMMA will also arrange or participate in showcase events, such as concerts or music festivals, to give local and regional artists an opportunity to display their talents on stage.

IOMMA at Sakifo Music Festival 2013

World music and jazz were at the centre of a tremendous month for Creole music during June 2013 on Reunion Island. IOMMA held its third annual conference alongside the 10th  annual Sakifo Music Festival. The two events drew not just musicians and artist managers, but also festival organizers, record labels, and media from various countries both near (Seychelles, Mauritius, and Australia) and far (United Kingdom, United States, and France). In addition to jazz and world music acts, Sakifo 2013 (Sakifo is Creole for “this is what you need”) featured performers from various genres including maloya fusion, reggae-rock, funk, blues, Mauritius sega, and electro-folk.
Over the course of three days, IOMMA sponsored panel discussions during which industry professionals addressed issues such as promoting local music and offered workshops on how artists can use digital tools to promote their music. Representatives from numerous other Creole music festivals, including those from Cape Town International Jazz Festival (South Africa), Madajazzcar (Madagascar), and Australasia World Music Expo (Australia), got together at the event to share viewpoints on event programming and promotion.
In total, the event spanned 10 days and was spread throughout cities on Reunion. IOMMA director Jerome Galabert and his team managed to bring together over 250 local and international representatives from the music industry as well as 20 different musical groups from around the world for the event. Although it was just the 3rd  edition of IOMMA’s annual conference, positive signs abound for the future of Creole music inside and beyond the Indian Ocean region.

IOMMA and Kreol Magazine Hope to Collaborate

As with any successful program, IOMMA will depend upon collaboration with outside partners to help spread its message and reach a broader fan base. It is here where Kreol Magazine hopes to step in and work with IOMMA to promote its goals to fans of Creole music around the globe.
Since its inception, Kreol Magazine has sought to bring the beat of the Creole world to a wider audience. With feature pieces on the lifestyle, history, cuisine, places, and people that make up the Creole world, Kreol Magazine has worked hard to build a connection between Creole people from different corners of the globe.
Kreol Magazine’s editor, Georgina Dhillon, was in attendance at IOMMA’s 2013 conference in hopes of building a greater collaboration between the two organisations. With its global readership reach and specific focus on the Creole culture, Kreol Magazine is perfectly positioned to help promote artists, genres, and events from the music scene in the Indian Ocean to the worldwide Creole and non-Creole communities.