By Loshaun Dixon

Basseterre, St. Kitts- While the second month of the year has only just begun, the St. Kitts Music Festival has already announced its first wave of artist to perform at the three night festival had already been launched.

The festival announced Jamaican artiste Jah Cure, Movado and Shabba ranks as well as American rock band Goo Goo Dolls have been revealed as the first acts for the 21st edition of the side.

Minister of Tourism Lindsay Grant said the reason for such an early launch was to facilitate an effective marketing strategies of the festival.

“This is indeed a deliberate attempt to ensure the St. Kitts Tourism Authority has the time to effectively market the festival in the various international source markets.”

He explained by launching in Februaryt they can take advantage of their 90 day minimum booking window to promote St. Kitts via the Music Festival.

“This will facilitate increasing the number of who will come to the island because of their love for music, their desire to engage with our friendly people and our laid back lifestyle,” he said.

Mr. Grant noted in order to attract visitors from their primary source markets he challenged the selection committee to finalize the line-up for the festival by the end of February.

“We all know that tourism is now the engine that drives the economy and the music festival was created to attract more visitors during our off season of the summer period,” he said.

The Tourism Minister indicate that the festival ought to be used as an added on value to tourism in the Federation and consideration must be given to the selection of artiste booked for the festival.

“This in return will energize our economy I’m the hotels, restaurants, beach bars, attractions and taxi operators are engaged for business,’ he added.

He said the benefits of the annual event to the people of St. Kitts and Nevis have been immense.

“The economic impact has been long surpassed its traditional beneficiaries in the hotels and the restaurants to include numerous other direct and indirect service providers.We have witness an upsurge in new businesses and proliferations of the arts and the music industry though in its infant stage,” he said.

Head of the Music Festival selection committee Jonel Powell said they sought a December launch for the first wave of artiste but encountered some difficulty in doing so.

He explained that there were many considerations they had to deal with when making the decisions on the artiste.

“The main considerations we battled with began with the budget. We have to bear in mind how much we have to spend and who we can afford. The booking fees for various artiste has gone up significantly over the years and unfortunately our budget has not and so that is an initial challenge. Also the availability. That is why we launched this early to get the availability of the artiste,” he said.

Mr. Powell said this year they have made a conscience decision to try and step out of the box.

“We don’t want to change it up too much, but we want to try and get it as close to right as possible and so this year we are proud to present some acts we would not typically present to the festival,” he declared.

He also said they are targeting a 1 a.m. cut off for each night.

“The effect of this is that the headline artiste who tend to come on last, tend to cost the most money and what we have found when we have these artiste coming on at 2 o clock and three in the morning half of the crowd have already left,” he stated.

He said it affects the artistes’ performances when they come out and only see half the crowd

“The other thing is we want to encourage other activities we want to encompass the wider community to the St. Kitts Music Festival…we want to encourage persons to leave the festival and have time to enjoy after parties,” he said.

Powell also spoke about pending alterations to the Thursday night of the festival.

“We will have regional and international acts coming in but we want to involve the local public more. Some of the things that we have been considering and plan to put out for you include bringing international deejays to participate with the atmosphere, we have actually had suggestions of having a foam pit in the Thursday night Music Festival,” he said.

“One of the new things we would like to present to you is a band clash between local bands which the participants will be selected by you the public. We hope to have your involvement through social media and other means to vote and determine which two local bands you want to see clash.”