The importance of grass-roots music in the events industry – Dan Bolton’s Ryan Poerner

The advertising industry has a responsibility to support emerging talent writes Ryan Poerner, eneral manager of Dan Bolton Creative Management Agency

Ryan Poerner, General Manager of Dan Bolton Creative Management Agency


Grassroots music is the heartbeat of the music and events industry. At its core, grassroots means the most basic level of an activity or organisation.

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It is the starting point where young artists get their first taste of performing, through the open-mic nights and smaller venues throughout cities. Our first thoughts when we think about grass-roots music instinctively lead us to think of homegrown, up-and-coming bands trying to pave their way in the industry. These acts are so important because they create community. Grassroots music brings people together, inspires the younger generation and helps people to believe that by putting in the work, anything is possible. 

Grassroots is the first step in creating music, performing on a stage and hopefully being able to take all of the hard work and bring it to audiences all over the world. The venues that host gigs and concerts of up-and-coming acts play a vital role in the development of local, unsigned bands and artists. They also provide a platform for anyone to express their knowledge of music, and their own interpretations and build an audience from the ground up. 

If the platform is not available for emerging acts to evolve their live performance skills, then they will have less opportunity to transform into a global musical phenomenon. It is so vital that we foster and promote this type of music to give the chance for new acts to develop and advance. Practice makes perfect, and in such a competitive field, the more opportunity an artist gets, the more they can elevate their performance levels to mainstream status. 

It also gives an opportunity for communities to celebrate something that they have watched grow and blossom under their noses. It gives an identity to a people and an emotion that people from that circle collectively experience while inviting others into their community to learn and enjoy. The local community wants these acts to succeed because they feel a personal connection to the performer. 

The success of grass-roots music leads to the long-term success of the creative events industry and so the two are coherently combined. To keep the train moving, if people at grass-roots don’t ever find success, no one will be inspired to start their own journey. If major financial firms did not accept any student interns, people would struggle to make their own name in the industry in the same way. Grass-roots music provides that platform for families to come together, new friends to be made and emotions to be spread across the world.

As an agency, we can promote these events on our social channels as well as work with our clients to get the artists at the forefront of their events. Musicians are part of an agency’s key offerings, so fostering and promoting the art musicians create is very important. Constant upgrades, constant promotion and always striving to put something different into the market ultimately foster and promote the artists’ music.

The UAE has had a long history of attracting and retaining successful individuals and businesspeople within the country, yet the grass-roots music sector has been somewhat lagging behind until now. Recently the Dubai government signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at creating a healthy ecosystem to further stimulate the growth of Dubai’s creative sector and enhance the emirate’s attractiveness as a global hub for the creative economy. Its aim is to increase the number of Dubai-based creative enterprises. This, coupled with the long-term cultural visa, a first-of-its-kind 10-year residency offered to creative talents, is another great way that Dubai is supporting grass-root enterprises. 

With the creative sector worldwide now more appealing than ever, Dubai is constantly striving to strengthen its position as a global centre for culture, an incubator for creativity, and a thriving hub for talent. The music industry is always at the core of all things creative and grass-roots music plays a huge part in stimulating the growth of the creative and cultural sectors in Dubai. It also helps to attract and retain domestic, regional, and global investments as well as drives more creative individuals, investors, and entrepreneurs to showcase their talents here. 

Creatives, in all stages of development, can utilise the unique qualities of the UAE to springboard themselves into the performing world. The city loves dreamers and Dubai has created a thriving open mic scene built on people’s desire to get involved. These open mics have developed into poetry communities, charity and networking events, and established stages for original artists to share their work. The extremely multicultural nature of the city also allows for an intermingling of cultures and styles, giving Dubai the edge over other major cities in terms of spreading a message to a wider audience range. 

The world needs this scene, it is as simple as that. Artists need the performance sphere to develop their talents, and agencies need to have a constant influx of new talents to make sure events can keep happening. For the benefit of everyone in the event industry, grass-roots music must continue to thrive, and aspiring artists need to be given this platform for success for many years to come. Without grass-roots, we’d find ourselves in a very different, and definitely less interesting music scene.