Several important topics were discussed at this occasion, such as how to take music to the next level and developing the western music industry to a better stage. On behalf of the WMA, Suraj welcomed those who attended and described the importance of holding such an event, and expressed his sincere hopes that it will be fruitful. The newly appointed executive committee consisted of Rajitha Rupasinghe, Sohan Weersasinghe, and newly appointed president, Fabion Paul, who actively got involved in the activities which were carried out, and mixing with the audience, and the advisory committee included Nihal Perera, Jehan Rajapakse , Mignnone Fernando and former president of WMA Damien Wickramathilake.
Those who were in the audience were given an opportunity to express their views and give their suggestions, while each suggestion and solution was written down and showcased to the audience in order to make further improvement.
The occasion was a mix of memories, suggestions and viewpoints, where some participants recalled the good old memories of the past – the bands and artistes then, and how different is the music industry now. The main idea of this forum was to take the ideas of the Audience and move forward regarding the development of the western music industry.
Another major point which was taken up the matter of payments, where artistes did not get enough value for their talent, and also the latest trend of foreign bands playing at hotels.
“If we are big, we also can demand something too,” said Damien Wickramathilake speaking to the audience.
“To say that we need something too, to look after the musicians. We can also get there. If you unite and think of giving one percent for a gig, it’ll help a lot. If we can donate one percent from the bands, towards our welfare, that’ll be a great thing.”
“As the WMA , this why we want the band leaders to join,” said Fabion.
“We have been to so many workshops, and it was that difficult to earn at least 5 people, still people do not believe us. I still think we need the numbers. We are going to help musicians to build a bridge through the WMA. If musicians don’t believe in the WMA , how are we going to do this ? So that‘s why we need this forum, where you can openly speak. We want you to trust us.”
At the forum, Rajitha Rupasinghe described the importance of having a written document in all activities whereas the musicians are concerned, be it signing a contract or performing for an event.
“I encourage every musician to do this – put everything in pen and paper,” said Rajitha. “Even up to now, it can be a cocktail or a wedding, I put my proposal first. I have something in pen and paper, and professionally, that’s the correct way. That is important for us, because we have to do our homework, onstage and offstage, we have to fight the obstacles we have to face. For that, we need to be prepared and we need to unite ourselves.”
The question of not having a proper pension scheme for WMA members also came up, whereas organizations such as SLASA created for Sinhala musicians had a fund where musicians received an income. The need of establishing such a fund for WMA was also discussed. Damien sincerely hoped that the newly elected president will have the courage and support to take the WMA forward in all its endeavors. Veteran musician Sohan Weerasinge , of Sohan & the X-Periments also took an interesting note especially with his sense of humor and informative explanation of the initiatives that are to be taken in order to move forward as one unit. He expressed his opinion of holding the WMA meeting as thus,
“Initiating an association like this is really good because we ultimately realize how to tackle problems. Having meetings like this encourages things positively. It’s a very good thing to create an association like this. I always support the WMA Association which has a voice for all musicians and will be able to support in all their needs. Earlier there were a lot of Associations but they didn’t work out for musicians in a proper manner. But I hope this will turn out to be a success for the musicians,” he said.
The WMA general meeting this time was lucky enough to have several sponsors on board, with a special logo designed for the organization. This meeting is expected to bring fruitful results, with the main initiative of creating a voice for musicians and speak on their behalf, and get the equal rights where every musician is entitled to get. This association was established with the firm belief that the musicians will finally have an organization of their own which will look after their needs and give the much needed recognition for their talent, and enhance their livelihood. Therefore, the WMA is a much anticipated need of all musicians – who needed to get the proper recognition and create a value for what they are doing . The initiation of the WMA will now fulfill their needs –at least to a certain extent, and take Sri Lanka’s western music industry to the next level, and standing by its motto, ‘musicians for musicians’.