Soca Monarch evolves in 2016¹

ism-smlMomentous changes are going to take place at the annual International Soca Monarch competition for 2016. To begin with, there will be only one competition. No more separate Groovy and Power competitions. Additionally, the Fantastic Friday show will no longer be aired live on television. This was revealed by Caribbean Prestige Foundation (CPF) chairman, Peter Scoon, at the ISM 2016 Artistes Forum yesterday at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain.

The revelation that there would be “no more groove” was met with different responses from the soca artists present at the forum. Some asked, oddly, if this would mean that there would be more contestants in the final show while others surmised that would augur well since there would not be the attendant “over produced” performances typically related to Power category finalists. Scoon, in laying out the rationale for the change in show format noted that the idea of “Groovy being the child of Power” has now been superseded by the reality that the “child has now grown up. Now it is just pure soca.”

There will now be fifty (50) semi-finalists at that live show competition vying for a coveted fifteen (15) places in the finals. Two additional artists will be added via a social media popular voting count. In their negotiation with the government, CPF is looking at one competition with an improved prize structure. Scoon said that his wish is that at least the two top performers would become millionaires after the final. He also assured gathered artists that even the performer who finished in the last place would be “very happy” with his or her take home prize. It was revealed that negotiations with private sector corporate sponsors is still ongoing, including former major sponsor, NLCB that is currently without a board stalling that negotiation.

Scoon also re-iterated that in a bid to sell the production to pay-per-view and cable globally, CPF was met with the sad reality that the famliar seven plus hour final show was not deemed television-ready by media broadcasters with too many gaps between performances. As such, there will be no live television broadcast, no live pay-per-view, no streaming of the final. (The semi-final show will be broadcast live.) The show will be properly edited—“the shorter, the better,” according to Scoon—for delayed broadcast on the following Saturday on major sponsor CNC3 Television with additional broadcast at that point regionally and globally. CPF hopes that, much like international singing competition, The Voice, the results would be announced at the end of the Saturday broadcast show. It is the wish of CPF that the government will assist in the promotion of the resulting television show to cable internationally.

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Chief adjudicator, Josephine Torrel (left) and CPF chairman, Peter Scoon (2nd from right) pose with soca artists

The restructuring of the annual Carnival show by the current board, with Scoon as chair for the last three years, was inevitable as there have been changes in how viewers and patrons engage with the show, and the evolution of social media and broadcast environments locally and internationally. The forum was told that live audience numbers at the finals have shown a decline over the last couple years. Change was inevitable despite the continued popularity of the show. From a performer’s point of view, Soca Monarch remains a lynchpin in the careers of many of the artists in the industry. CPF, in seeing itself as the “guardian of soca” continues to enhance its leadership role by providing workshops in songwriting, production, performance, music business for artists. The Breakout Artist will remain a cornerstone of the competition, and an appeal was made to the professional artists to “adopt” and mentor new upcoming soca singers especially the CPF School’s Soca Monarch competition performers.

  1. 20151105A version of this article appears in the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian newspapers published as, “No live TV for Soca Monarch next year”

©2015, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

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