VincyMas may have been cancelled but Vincy soca and calypso fans the world over would still be able to enjoy 2020 compositions and performances from their longtime and newly discovered favorite artistes, all on a virtual platform.

This developed as a direct result of the unique cooperation between 3 pioneering individuals and at least 2 corporate partners who have time and again shown their commitment to the burgeoning Vincentian entertainment industry.

“As they say, ‘out of difficulty comes opportunity ’said Steve Wallace, the Creative Director of STV Online saw the opportunity to create the virtual Soca and Calypso Monarch competition. With this vision in mind he approached me, Candice Sealey Managing Director of Ignite!, a marketing and public relations consultancy and Lester Iroha of Envy Nightclub and owner of Fourth Dimension Productions.”

Sealey of Ignite addressing the media

Sealey further explained the dearth of economic opportunities for local entertainment service providers due to COVID-19 restrictive guidelines and advisories motivated the adaptation of one of VincyMas’ most anticipated events.

“… With all of that happening obviously producers were thinking twice about producing any music. But all three of us came together because three heads [are] definitely better than one and we have created the blue print for the Virtual soca and calypso competition.

The finals of the competition would take place on the 4th and 5th of July 2020; so the same dates that it would have been happening had there been nor COVID-19,” Sealey told Tuesday evening’s media audience.

Hairoun Beer and Digicel have already signed on as corporate partners and together committed “$20, 000 in cash and prizes for this competition.” Sealey also took time to “encourage corporate St. Vincent and the Grenadines to get on board with this competition. This is culture; this is to support the entertainment industry and to support the artiste.”

Digicel’s D’Music digital distribution platform is set to feature prominently in this virtual Vincy music experience. According to Lester Iroha, “all the music that would be submitted to the competition would get automatic upload on the D’Music App. Which is a very good platform for us as Vincentian music producers, artistes, people in the industry to get their music out there.

“It is also a good avenue for you to get some revenue in terms of streaming. This is an avenue that is kind of not as widely used in St. Vincent as it is should be …. Of course they would do all the necessary signing up in the back end to have everything legal and sorted out. So it’s nothing illegal, we’re not trying to take advantage of you; it’s really for your advantage.”

Dougal Allen appeared on behalf of Digicel and reminded the media audience that their patronage of the virtual competition would financially benefit the individual performers. “It’s a great opportunity for local artistes to get their music showcased worldwide, also earn outside of the borders and limitations of St. Vincent… The D’Music platform [has] over 40 billion songs across the world. You should try to download the App [because] as the releases are selected you would see them listed there [and] while you listen to your favorite artiste you’d actually be putting money in their pocket.”

Kelvin Franklyn of the St Vincent Brewey

Listening to your favorite artistes also contribute points towards a portion of his/her final score. Hence the artiste’s chance improves as often as you play his/her song. Each winner of the individual catergories – Soca, Calypso and Ragga Soca – would be awarded $5, 000 cash plus prizes. And because there is no limit on the number of categories an artiste may contest the possibility of any one contestant winning it all is very real.

A panel of 5 judges would determine the Monarchs based on criteria that include “social reaction because there is no crowd like in Victoria Park.

“So the reaction of persons watching through them posting whether it’s fire emojis, hearts and all of these things contribute so that’s part of the judging.”

Monday June 22, is preset as the submissions deadline for all categories. A live broadcast of the audition process is anticipated and would feature a listening party comprising of all the songs submitted. To be a part of the competition artistes would need to fill in an online submission form. “You go on to the STV Online Facebook page and the link is pinned at the top of that page. Once you click the link it would take you to the form that you must fill in to enter the competition,” Candice Sealey explained to ANN.

The submissions would be uploaded on June 24 in effort to “catch the VincyMas window as “this is a time when the world looks to us what songs are charting because at the end of the day COVID-19 is not going to be forever,” said Lester Iroha.

The hit-making producer further highlighted another benefit to the potential exposure to be harnessed from the innovative venture. He said, “By October, you never know, everything could be … back to a situation where people are flying, artistes are getting booked; it would be very nice for our artistes to have products out there that they can get booked on rather than relying on music that was released since 2019 and beyond.”

For the purposes of the competition, Iroha informed the potential Calypsonian entrants, “we know what we’re going through; what we need is uplifting music. So we’re encouraging people to do more comedic and upbeat Calypso – not knocking the traditional Calypso and what they’re doing but for this platform I think is very important that we keep the energy up so that is the kind of vibe we’re going to be looking for during the auditions and the judges are going to pay special attention to that.”

Access to the competition would be via live streaming on STV Online’s Facebook portal but a US$20 exclusive experience would be distributed to VIP viewers , the producers say, which incorporates the Zoom video conferencing platform. Hairoun and Digicel goodies would also be distributed VIP viewers. No live audience would be allowed entry at Envy Nightclub, the actual venue for the performances; nor would major props and the like be accommodated. Each performer would be limited to 4 dancers.

Prospective Monarchs and corporate partners are encouraged to reach out to any of the event team members or via STV Online’s Facebook page.