The inaugural urban music festival and conference Buma Rotterdam Beats attracted 500 professionals from record labels, touring agencies, management and publishing.

The Nov. 26-27 event was organized by Rotterdam's youth culture development program De Nieuwe Oogst and Buma Cultuur, music promotion arm of the Dutch collecting society, and covered the urban genre - hip-hop, R&B, reggae, soul and dubstep.

Organizers said attendance of the inaugural BR Beats exceeded expectations. Despite it falling around the Thanksgiving holiday, attendees included U.S. players such as attorney Hector Baldonado, who appeared on the "Business as (Un)usual" panel.

Baldonado, who was instrumental in putting together Juelz Santana and Lloyd Banks for the track "Beamer, Benz or Bentley" (G Unit Records), said there is no end to the types of collaborations that can be made to work.

"Juelz and Lloyd are very different people, and maybe wouldn't believe that they would have wanted to work together, but what they produced was amazing," he said. "And the same goes for cross-genre collaborations. There are no limits to what can be done in terms of stylistic mash-ups, and I wouldn't have any qualms about encouraging a soul singer or a reggae artist to team up with a hip-hop crew if there was a chance that the chemistry would bring about something special."

Other panels held at the two-day event included "Diversidad Presents: European Urban Culture Today." Part-funded by the European Music Office (EMO), the Diversidad project features 20 artists from 12 European countries who were brought together as representatives of urban culture from their respective countries.

The debate featured Rotterdam-born artists MC Melodee of La Melodia and GMB - both of whom appear on "The Experience" album (Diversidad) - alongside Noelia Rodriguez of Spain's Cultura Urbana Festival, Thomas Brodl of HipHopConnection, plus project coordinators Matthieu Remond of talent agency Derriere les Planches and Cecile Hambye of Diversidad.

"There are instances where we can see a pan-European urban culture starting to appear, and the Diversidad project is all about encouraging cross-border communication that, despite differences in language, is all about the music and common experience," Hambye said.

Later in the day, the 14-track album was premiered to BR Beats delegates.

Festival director Roger Brouwn said he was pleased with the first year of BR Beats. "There's a great atmosphere in the networking lounge and people are making connections which is great to see," he said. "Generally I think we achieved what we set out to achieve which was to put down roots, primarily this year with the local urban community, and also to show them that we are sincere and serious. Next year we will be working hard to bring in more of the international community, and we will be looking to better integrate the nighttime program into some of the daytime activities in the Gouvernestraat venue."

Among the nighttime program, several performances were outstanding including two unsigned acts, Boom Boom Du Terre and Jungle by Night. The latter band is made-up of 15-19 year-olds playing largely instrumental music inspired by the late Fela Kuti. Honorable mentions for originality and verve also go to La Melodia (La Melodia Music) and breakbeat rockers Baskerville (BaskervilleMusic).

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