Saturday, May 30, 2020

Unity is Strength Division is Weakness


Some of the most successful Reggae artists of all time, are those who are able to project their own ideas of their culture through the music and are seemingly prophetic in their execution. Bounty Killer and Beenie Man's recent historic live stream performance has rehashed discussions with regards to the Jamaican Music Industry, of which this writer would like to share personal opinions. 

Before the internet, the Jamaican music industry was somehow regulated, which made it more of a united business industry to some extent, even though there were disparities with varying management styles. If an international body wanted to conduct business with an artiste the agent for the artist would inevitably be contacted. Certain regulatory tactics enforced during that era proved to be more effective when compared to the freelance, free-for-all tactic provided by the world wide web now. A united industry leads Tessane Chin to victory on "The Voice" and Bounty Killer and Beenie Man to a historic live stream show that attracted almost half-a-million viewers. It is hereby fitting to remind ourselves that the two artistes in question are products of that era.


While all credit must be given to telecommunications giant Digicel, Ms. Sharon Burke, one of the cornerstones of the industry, Grammy-winning producers Swizz Beats, Timbaland, and the entire production team of the Bounty Killer Verzuz Beenie Man live stream recently, the show of support by members of the industry, and Jamaicans across the world, not only proved how marketable the Dancehall genre is; how much of a tourist attraction the music is, or, how impactful the culture is on the rest of the world but, also, how great we are as a nation when we pull together. Contrary to the narrative that is spewed when something goes awry, we have witnessed time and time again the success of our artistes on the international front. More Jamaican artists are going mainstream, more of our female artistes get recognition for their work and diversity. However, our failure to control key elements that make an industry not just great by name but by revenue accrued has created the inability of capturing the true value of the culture. 

According to the IFPI Global Music Statistic Report 2019 -  For the full year 2019, total revenues for the global recorded music market grew by 8.2% or US$20.2 billion. Streaming revenue grew by 22.9% or US$11.4 Billion and for the first time
accounted for more than half (56.1%) of global recorded music revenue. Growth in streaming more than offset a 5.3% decline in physical revenue, a slower rate than 2018. This growth was driven by a 24,1% increase in paid subscription streaming with nearly all markets reporting growth in this area. There were 341 million users of paid streaming services accounting for 42% (33.5%), with paid streaming accounting for 42% of total recorded music revenue.

Call it what you may, this writer believes the key reason why the local music industry is not reaping the benefits of its reggae brand as it should is as a result of dis-unity among its stakeholders. This flaw however is not unique to this body but more so, the black man's attitude towards his fellow black man. The good news is, it can be changed as we have often witnessed among ourselves. Jamaicans are known for their resilience, our culture which is bred and shaped by our colonial past has made us a people with the tendency to impact the world positively in more ways than one and at times when the world needs it most. This is our talent. This talent of ours can be put to greater use, it can unite black people across the world, but most importantly unite us as Jamaicans. Unification of the stakeholders can solidify and maintain this one great legacy those before have left us called, The Jamaican Reggae and Dancehall Music Industry.



To Jamaicans wherever you are and especially those not associated with the industry but rather a fan of the music, we are not ashamed of who we are, or, of our culture. The 'Verzuz' clash between Bounty Killer and Beenie man was an artistic and cultural expression of our music. It is important to add here too, that this writer is a none supporter of certain lyrical content regardless of whom the performer is but rather a supporter of individual expression.

Lastly, lest we forget we are stronger together as a people and we all win when we support each other, the Bounty Killer and Beenie Man historic performance has afforded us insights that can help us navigate our way forward through any discourse. What is profound about their performance, is the fact that these two entertainers who were arch-rivals that aggressively competed for their standings seem quite comfortable working with each other. In the heat of things the dancehall 'general' did say, "on stage we war, inna real life we par." So, we can agree to disagree but let love and light lead us to victory.  Who would have thought that Bounty Killer and Beenie Man would have come together in the manner in which they did and made us all proud in the way they have done? Who! Who! Who!...

"It always seems impossible until it's done"
~Nelson Mandela~

Written by Sophia McKay
For: NIPnews
Excerpts: IFPI Global Music Report 2019

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