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THE JAMAICAN MUSIC SCENE – HYPE OVER REALITY?

BY CECELIA CAMPBELL-LIVINGSTON—-

AN article in last Sunday’s Observer highlighted poor record sales by Jamaican artists in 2012.

SoundScan, which tracks music sales in the United States, reports that albums by high-profile dancehall acts such as Sean Paul, Romain Virgo and Konshens sold less than 5,000 copies in the US.

(Left) Dennis Howard. Charles Campbell.

 

Music industry consultants Dennis Howard and Charles Campbell had a lot to say on

the topic.

For Howard, the local industry is reaping what it has sown over the past decade.

“The last 10 years has been the preoccupation with the hype of Jamaica’s popular music that is called dancehall. In hindsight, dancehall is more excitement and hype than reality,” he said.

Howard added that even the success some Jamaican artists have enjoyed in the past is not entirely due to dancehall.

“Cobra, Patra, Sean Paul, they did it without dancehall songs. It was a fusion of music,” he said, pointing out that traditional reggae is still the strongest sound coming out of Jamaica.

Howard also blames local media for the music’s downturn.

“They focus on the bickering and the pettiness of the artistes who are desperate to keep themselves in the limelight. Great songwriting, innovation, production, good recording; that took a back page,” he said.

Campbell, a director of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association, cited inadequate marketing as the main reason for the poor sales.

“We don’t have a modern marketing vehicle. We no longer have the big record companies signing our artists, who spend money to put them on mainstream television and radio creating that hype we used to have,” Campbell said.

He agreed with Howard about media’s negative influence. He claims there is a small amount of songs that are rotated daily on local radio.

“We need to broaden our airwaves, giving a broader diet of songs so that the potential for international hitmakers can air locally, and the promotion begins here at home,” he said.

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