By Sadeke Brooks—–
IT is an industry that earns millions, even billions each year and employs many in and outside of Jamaica, but the music industry is one of those areas that lacks the expertise needed to move the business forward.
Data from Economic and Social Survey Jamaica 2011, prepared by the Planning Institute Of Jamaica, revealed that
recreational, cultural and sporting activities contributed 2.7 per cent to overall GDP, similar to the contribution in 2009.
Yet, producer Shane Brown, manager of Busy Signal, says many persons see entertainment as merely a ‘hustle’.
According to Brown, an important part of management is representing the artistes. He says the managers sign and vet contracts and get endorsements, so that the artistes do not have to focus on the business side and in turn have more time to be creative. He added that the manager should also be able to give the talent guidance and help him or her to make business decisions, as well as market and nurture the talent.
But this is not always the case in Jamaica’s music industry, he says.”In our music industry, we don’t treat it like a business, we tend to treat our industry like a patty shop, as if it’s a hustle,” said Brown, who studied management studies at the University of the West Indies.
“We don’t have enough people that are properly trained and educated to represent artists.”
He continued: “What we have in Jamaica is a lot of artists representers who are not knowledgeable enough to make a decision without the artist. They are just front men.”
While he plays a big role, he says his management of Busy Signal’s career takes the form of a partnership instead of a dictatorship.
Not employing knowledgeable persons to work with them is one of the mistakes that persons often make, says Headline Entertainment’s managing director, Jerome Hamilton.
With a company that offers promotion and publicity, event planning and marketing, bookings and entertainment consultancy, Hamilton says “artists repeatedly try to use persons with little or no knowledge of the music business to manage their careers, which ultimately leads to their downfall.”
Disagreeing somewhat with Brown, Hamilton says artists don’t necessarily see the industry as a hustle, but they fail to see its full potential.
“I think a lot of them take it as their chosen business, but I don’t think they respect the magnitude of the business. I don’t think they see it as a hustle, but they don’t see it as the business that it is,” he said, noting that the culture of some artists is to control all of their affairs. something that might be difficult to change.
While there are many publicists and booking agents, he said, “there is not enough people (in management) with international experience.”
Hamilton noted that the industry also suffers because “it does not have a strong collective.”
While there is the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), he said a stronger organisation is needed “to get the present generation to buy into it.”
He noted that there is also a need for those with the knowledge to pass it on to those who lack it.
But there are other mistakes that artists make. Hamilton says not enough of them pay attention to stage presentation and perfecting their craft. In addition, he said more artists need to release music of a higher quality.
In the same breath, Hamilton said artists need to place “more value on our copyright and to make sure that we properly register it.”
Earlier this week, Jamaica Intellectual Property Office hosted a workshop at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMC) called ‘How To Make A Living From Music’. While this is one of several workshops that the agency hosts from time to time, Joan Webley, manager of Copyright and Related Rights at JIPO, says a lot of persons know little or nothing about copyright.
“Persons have found out a little bit about copyright. This little bit of information can cause further confusion. They don’t get the facts and they think they fully understand how it works,” she told The Sunday Gleaner.
Under Jamaica’s Copyright Act 1993, copyright applies to original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, sound recordings, films, broadcasts or cable programme, and typographical arrangements of published editions.
While copyright is automatic, Webley says it is important for the artist’s work to be properly documented so that ownership is clear and they should ensure that they are registered with the appropriate collection agencies.
For songwriters and composers, she said the agency to be registered with is Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers Limited, while producers should register with Jamaica Music Society (JAMMS). To collect money if one’s music is published and reproduced in any form, she said the Jamaica Copyright Licensing Authority (JAMCOPY) would be the agency to be registered with.
Despite the lack of experts, there are a few institutions that are offering some level of training in the business of entertainment. The University of the West Indies has a degree programme in entertainment and cultural enterprise management.
In addition to the workshop that was held at EMC earlier this week, the college recently had a music management seminar. The institution also has an arts management-degree programme that offers training for curators, managers, marketing and public relations practitioners, creative and artistic directors.
The Vocational Training Development Institute, the tertiary arm of HEART Trust/National Training Agency, also offers a number of programmes in entertainment and events management.
Some of the short courses offered at the institutions are professional event planning and production, the business of music, entertainment marketing and law and the entertainment business.