"Musical creation must go hand in hand with a structure, if not the projects run out, they get frustrated"

We chat with Tomás Muhr, director of IMESUR and founder of the Latin American Association of Musical Managers.

He plays all the clubs in the music industry. He is a musician, producer and manager with a long history in the American continent. The Chilean Tomás Muhr is currently in Tenerife conducting free workshops in order to help Canarian groups and bands to consolidate their projects. Its objective is that they make the most of their participation in the second edition of MAPAS, the Mercado de las Artes Performativas del Atlántico Sur, which, in July, will once again promote a unique atmosphere for the professional development of live arts in Spain. Portugal, Africa and Latin America.

Question (P). What are the main lines of your work with artists and groups?

Answer (R). Talk about fundamental issues for an artistic career, from the basics, since groups do not always question things that have to do with their day-to-day, such as their equipment needs, their distribution, the management of their contacts ... matters that deviate a bit from the interests of the artists. The idea is to figure out how they are solving these development needs.

Q. Why is it important to address these issues?

R. Last year, also from MAPAS, we talked about how to face the business rounds with programmers. This year we do more in-depth work on how to strengthen a musical project and how to develop it. There are usually problems for which, if they are not solved or clarified, projects run out, they get tired, they get frustrated. The intention is to imply that it is important, that they are also the responsibility of the artists and that, if not addressed, it is likely that they will not meet your local and international expectations.

Q. Is it because artists tend to focus only on their artistic side?

R. What I see is that artistically there is enormous wealth, but in terms of management, production, it is lacking. It is important to empower the artists, since they are the ones who have to direct these processes. Sometimes they get overwhelmed, but they are the ones who have to set the guidelines, be it in front of a manager or a production team. They have to lead this process.

Q. From your experience as a musician, manager and producer, what is the main value of MAPAS for the music industry?

R. It's huge. There are not many meeting points like this one, and less oriented to communication between such distant continents. It draws a lot of attention, it is a close door, of  close language, of connection between Latin America and Europe, but also with Africa, which is an unknown continent for Latin Americans. And it also contributes to the Canarian groups, to make visible what happens here. There is much to do, there are similar difficulties to those we encounter in Latin America, and MAPAS comes to give that impulse, of knowledge, of contact ... The projects see alternatives.

P. The groups come into contact with new realities ...

People from all over the world come to MAPAS to listen to their music, it is an important moment of exposure and enhancement. That is the importance of the MAPS model. Many Latinos have signed up for MAPAS this year, they are willing to come. Relationships are the most important thing. When there are places that identify problems and propose solutions, projects grow

Q. Do you think MAPAS has come to cover a need?

R. It was born from a very clear need in the Canary Islands, and then there is a lot of interest from Latinos with Europe and with Africa. It is not just a festival, but an encounter. It is unique, there is no market with this focus. MAPS opens those doors, generates those relationships. The effects will be seen in a while, since the production and programming cycles are long, but results can be seen in the restlessness of the people, the sensation that is generated, the environment of relationships, of opening up to new proposals. And when that energy is there, things start to happen.

Q. Do you think it is appropriate that one of the axes of MAPAS is training?

R. If this event is not carried out with training to be able to face it, the objectives, both of the market itself and of the artists who come, are different. It is very good to contemplate this training in business rounds, complemented with the strengthening of projects. Without this, the objectives are lost. Indeed, there is a concern that it is a profitable and useful situation, that is why tools are being offered to face it. You can do an event like this with the programmers, the place, the structure, the institutional support, but without a specific and personalized vision in terms of training, the objectives would not be met. Furthermore, it would be a setback, because you would expose the artists themselves to situations that they do not dominate. It would be counterproductive.

Q. Is it about bands looking beyond their creations?

We talked about all the aspects of having a grouping, seeing the gaps and weaknesses. Is a  conversation to deepen and that the artists come out with a different approach and a huge list of concerns. We seek to remove. We have a band, a project, but if we don't touch on these issues, at some point things will fail. And what does the artist do when he sees that his art is not working? Makes more art. So it restricts its own production, and it is a vicious cycle from which it is difficult to get out. Creation has to go hand in hand with an inevitable process and structure, and the artist has to take responsibility.


The artists and groups that benefit from the workshops given by Tomás Muhr, from March 12 to 16, at the Tenerife Auditorium are: Juan Mesa y la baifo, Agua y Limón Producciones, Gustavo Campos, Socos Dúo, 101 Brass Band , Caracoles, Mamushka, Kakofonías, Andrés Molina and Natanael Ramos García.


Tomás Muhr is director of the Latin American Music Industry Meeting (IMESUR) and responsible for the platform for the production and dissemination of independent musical projects La Makinita. He has extensive experience in the representation of artists and in the musical production of numerous tours in America and Europe. Founder of the Latin American Association of Musical Managers (MMF LATAM), he is also a component and manager of the Chilean band Juanafé.


MAPAS is one of the most ambitious cultural initiatives of the Cabildo de Tenerife, with the intention of making possible an ecosystem of cultural encounter and exchange that turns the island into the backbone of the cultural and creative industries of the South Atlantic, while promoting the internationalization of local artists and establishing the island as a quality, competitive destination at the forefront of culture.