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After 5 years of work, we (the Jamaican duo Voice Mail) are about to release a new album. Not only the Caribbean music industry, but the global music industry is in deep crisis. While major label executives fight to secure their piece of the cake in an industry that has been on the decline for 15 consecutive years, independent artists are the one's that can't reach the customer anymore. Investments in artist development can only be made by the majors as they control the structures (radio, PR, online and now also streaming) to promote music with the goal of achieving a return on their investment. Taylor Swift got it right when she said, music is art. The main point here is not to make ridiculous amounts of money with music, but that art needs to be progressive and it needs freedom to experiment, because repetition is the death of art. Music as art needs first of all a platform to reach customers, so that customers can make a valued judgement about it. Once they perceive it is as valuable, there are ways to make a profit. However, the status quo doesn't allow independent music to get through to those customers and now that Taylor Swift (Universal), who makes US$70M annually, is pressuring streaming services to move away from a democratic music-distribution-structure there is little hope for change.
We're seeking the support of the entire Caribbean community for the release of our upcoming album "Next Level." The music on this album is different from everything that's out there. Nevertheless, it's authentic Caribbean music. Artists such as Rihanna, Sean Kingston or most recently Sia use Dancehall elements in pop music as American artists. In contrast, we (VoiceMail) want to pioneer the approach to use EDM and pop elements in our music to create something new that hasn't been done before. This doesn't mean that we want to move away from our musical camp or cultural identity but, we want to give Caribbean music a fresh impulse to remain interesting and fun as it has been.
The biggest advantage of Caribbean music was always the freedom to experiment, the desire for novelty and that the "feeling for the music" was at the heart of the aesthetic experience.
Together we can show the world that Caribbean music isn't limited to a particular style, always moves and that it can bring value to the lives of millions of people regardless in which country they live.
Kevin Blair and Craig Jackson (Voice Mail)
Voice Mail 'Next Level' album drops January 5, 2015 and was produced in collaboration between Jamaicans, Americans and Germans.