XP Conference: Experiential Workshop Track

Keynotes and panels don't cut it anymore. Time to flip the script

In 2021, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) music industry saw a 35% growth spike in revenues. According to a new 2022 Global Music Report, it’s now the “fastest growing music market in the world.” Just this month, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) published the first official music chart for the MENA region. Millions of MENA streamers everyday are flocking to the digisphere, the metaverse, anywhere to listen to their favorite rising artists. MENA music, one that’s thrived for decades behind closed doors, has arrived on the international scene.

This hard relaunch of MENA’s music industry was already a few years underway, but still finding its identity, when XP Music Futures approached Wavetable about a new, first-of-its-kind conference concept to bring MENA’s entire music industry—plus an extended global network of professionals, talent, and listeners—together into one space. Wherever music goes, community and innovation follow—so as a band of music hobbyists and artists ourselves, so did we.

The setup

The ask itself was simple—music to our ears, if you will. The organizers at XP needed a creative partner to design and develop a workshop series that would:

  • Offer learning and connection to its attendees
  • Reveal insights and strategic recommendations for future initiatives
  • Represent the four pillars of XP’s mission
  • But would do using an alternative approach to the cliché, copy-paste methods of conferences past

There were 4 key pillars to build on top of:

  • Talent: Supercharging Creativity
  • Scene: Making the Music Count
  • Impact: Enable & Empower
  • Innovation: Disruptive Forward Thinking

One of the strongest indicators of a well-designed conference is an emphasis on topic diversity. Valuable learning ecosystems are curriculum-inclusive across various disciplines, stakeholders, backgrounds, levels of expertise, and curiosities. So out of thousands of highly relevant potential topics, we narrowed our menu down to eight:

  • An Intro to Copyright Law
  • Gender Parity in the Music Business
  • Building a DJ Career
  • Creating a Regional Sustainability Agenda in Touring
  • How to Influence Decision Making in the Creative Industries
  • Cities & Dancefloors: Building the Future of MENA Music
  • Experiential Event Safety & Ethics
  • A Glance into the Regional Nighttime Economy

The considerations

Now for the fun part. With no real precedents or predecessors to model our conference series after, our team truly started from scratch. Leveraging a medley of interactive working styles, modules, activities, and panels, we found harmonies between:

  • Vastly different topics from copyright law to crowd safety
  • Language—naturally, English was a 2nd language for many attendees so sessions had to offer both depth and clarity
  • 60-minute time constraints per workshop
  • Catering to an unknown group of attendees (Open access meant we had to design for a range of attendance and expertise levels)
  • A local delivery team we’d not worked with (or even met) before

Across four international time zones, endless WhatsApp threads and Notion pages, and despite covid-related travel disruptions and visa restrictions that limited the Wavetable design team to remote, stateside facilitation—we pulled off one of the most dynamic and fulfilling workshop series we’ve ever produced.

Yes, we take delight in creating on-point facilitator guides

The payoff

The conference was a resounding success. Attendees from every workshop session raved over a wealth of new knowledge and shared motivations. There was an abundance of pride buzzing everywhere—MENA professionals embracing and celebrating the bright, fantastic future of their industry. Because of our nimble facilitation approach (”being there” without physically being there), we were able to deliver a suite of directional and tactical insights to the organizers which are now being integrated into future plans.

We felt so honored to bare witness to a global titan in the making. Oh, and the Wavetable x facilitation crew WhatsApp group is still alive and kicking.

“It was great to truly understand our huge potential and see the roadmap ahead.”
– Cities & Dancefloors attendee
“The next 5 years are going to be very exciting.”
– Creating a Regional Sustainability Agenda in Touring attendee

As for WTHQ, here’s what we took away:

  • Music is truly one of the greatest unifiers of mankind
  • In any industry, heroize the folks behind the scenes (for example, your own conference ushers) as much as you do your celebrities. Acknowledging the boots on the ground will go a long way
  • Making space for dialogue is the first step to creating community
  • Always triple check your room stations on the day-of—room changes tend to slip through the cracks of communication
  • There’s nothing quite like the feeling of waking up to positive participant feedback forms
  • Only we would get that excited about positive participant feedback forms

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Let’s get down to business.

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