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By Charles Campbell—

MUSIC charts are supposed to reflect a relatively accurate picture of the popularity of a particular song in the market place, or some segment of it, at a particular point in time. There are supposed to be complied and assembled based on a set of objectives criteria and data.

These charts are a critical cog in the professional life of an artist, as they are relied upon for historical accuracy, by the press, record companies, booking agencies, promoters, event patrons and the general buying public, in determining what’s happening on the ground. The publication of music charts therefore, impact the very livelihood of artists and likelihood of them being booked for concerts, overseas tours, international recording contracts and request for press appearances among other things.

A sampling of the most popular local charts include: Richie B’s on Hot 102; on TVJ there are the FIWI Chart, ER Chart and Suzie Q’s Video Chart; CVM TV has a chart called The Hitlist.

Another dimension of this sordid, conspiratorial scheme, by an alliance of music and media operatives, so as to unfairly profit from payola, at the expense of promoting and maintaining fair-play and good standards in our music which is being broadcast on air, is the manipulation of some of our music charts, creating a distortion of the information being provided to the industry as well as the marketplace. In a perverse way, payola may ironically increase access to the airwaves, in the sense that, songs that wouldn’t normally make their way into the media get prominent airplay, because people were paid to list this song in their charts and/or to play it on their programmes. In so doing, these manipulated charts create a false impression of the true situation on the ground and lead to a historical distortion of our music industry’s environment and legacy.

It is my considered view, especially with CD sales having less significance, that in order for our local media and entertainment industries to bring things back to some relative degree of rationality, an overarching, authoritative national music chart should be designed and developed using popular sources such as: YouTube, iTunes , Soundcloud and MySpace. This initiative would go a far way in reducing the tendency of our wayward network in their conspiracy to manipulate the airwaves to satisfy their personal greed, with no regard for the disservice that they are doing to Jamaica music industry. Quite frankly, I think some of our media managers are very short-sighted, because as significant amount of the money being earned unethically by these culprits could legally be earned by the stations/networks themselves by offering to the music industry scheduled slots within their daily or weekly broadcast times to allow for artistes, producers or booking agencies to promote their works, while fully disclosing to the discerning public the sponsors of these special programmes.

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