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» GUEST RUNDOWNS » JADE LEE: ARTIST MANAGER, PROMOTER AND BOOKING AGENT, TALKS BUSINESS AND HOPES FOR A BETTER INDUSTRY!

JADE LEE: ARTIST MANAGER, PROMOTER AND BOOKING AGENT, TALKS BUSINESS AND HOPES FOR A BETTER INDUSTRY!

Jade Lee (left) and Denyque at last year's Youth View Awards.
Jade Lee (left) and Denyque at last year’s Youth View Awards.

 By Jordane Delahaye—

Jade Lee’s career in the ‘big’ music industry, as she puts it, started on a bitter note. Through her inexperience at the time, her first stage show, which featured Bounty Killer, Spragga Benz and Innocent Kru, among others, ended in a riot due to the rain damaging the sound system before ‘The Warlord’ could perform.

Nevertheless, Lee recovered and her flawless promotion of the show which attracted close to 10,000 patrons earned her a lot of attention in the entertainment arena.

Bounty Killer

Bounty Killer

“After that experience, I was bombarded with phone calls and emails asking me to manage artists, produce events, do PR (public relations) for all kinds of things. The response was so overwhelming that I decided from there to launch Jade Promotions, and I never looked back,” Lee recalled.

She has been credited in the industry as a promoter, booking agent and artist manager, among other things, but what is probably one of her most noted achievements is her role in Sean Paul’s rise to global recognition.

“I worked with Sean at the beginning of his career and I was in charge of his PR and bookings while trying to attract deals and endorsements for him. The team was really small back then, and being the only female on the team, I was also automatically the stylist and hair stylist, too (she laughs). I travelled extensively with Sean doing meetings and trying to capture the attention of the media, promoters, fans, labels, etc.,” Lee explained, adding that she stayed with the team up to Sean Paul’s signing with Atlantic Records.

Sean Paul

Sean Paul

TEARFUL MOMENT

Lee still recalls an experience she had while working with Sean Paul as the most memorable experience she has had throughout her extensive journey in the music business.

“I’ve had many memorable experiences, but I think the one that tops the list is when we were in Canada doing some promotions and we were so broke that we had to share a small run-down hotel room. We took out a Bible, prayed and thanked God for allowing us the opportunity to even be there. It was a tearful moment, but it was certainly special, and I know He answered our prayers that day,” she reminisced.

Lee’s reach in the entertainment industry extends far beyond Sean Paul, however, as she has also been the agent for Gee Jam Recording Studios, where she fostered projects such as the collaboration between No Doubt and Bounty Killer, which produced the platinum-selling hit, Hey Baby.

Many may not know that Lee was also one of the point persons behind the Destiny’s Child reunion in 2003, where they performed together for the first time in many years, at Reggae Sumfest.

But it doesn’t stop there. As a booking agent, Lee has represented the likes of Yellowman, Ce’Cile, Bounty Killer, Ninja Man, Capleton, Ward 21, Harry Toddler, KipRich, Junior Reid, Buccaneer, TOK and many others.

Jade Lee with Anthony Cruz

Jade Lee with Anthony Cruz

Being one of the few successful women in the local music industry, Lee’s credibility is beyond reproach and the music mogul is more than adequately equipped to hold her own among other big leaguers.

Having watched the business of music change over the years, and having been a part of that change herself, Lee has gained a more rounded perspective on the industry and its workings.

“Music can now be disseminated in a split second and this makes competition far greater than in the past. In developing an artiste for the international marketplace, you have to be very clear on what sets your artiste apart. The development process is very important and many lifetime decisions must be made during this period,” Lee shared.

Jade Lee

Jade Lee

REGGAE’S DESCENT

This change that Lee has observed in the industry, however, is not necessarily a positive one, as she highlighted reggae’s descent on the international music scene.

“Reggae music is still very present in the international market, but the question is, are our Jamaican artists getting work internationally? Are we still exporting music like we used to? The answer is ‘no!'”

“On the international scene, markets have developed their own reggae bands and their own dancehall artists, some of whom have become very successful in their territories. It’s actually sad because our local artists could have at least looked forward to being booked on the large reggae festivals internationally, but now, only a few are being booked. Our local industry has much to be blamed for in this regard. Our artists are overpriced, the travelling parties are way too big and the indiscipline that travels with them is sometimes totally unacceptable. Promoters get frustrated and look for alternatives,” she lamented.

Lee’s sentiments are shared by many industry execs and artists alike, but little, it seems, is being done to mend and develop the business aspect of the music industry.

According to Lee, there is too much unhealthy competition in the local music business and this is stifling the industry’s potential.

Nadine Sutherland

Nadine Sutherland

It has often been said that there are too many local artists in the industry who are content with local recognition rather than working on achieving international acclaim. Lee currently manages the careers of Denyque and veteran songbird Nadine Sutherland and revealed that she only works with artists and projects she believes in.

“Denyque has endless potential on the international scene. When my friend Motion, a producer, brought her to meet me five years ago, I had been looking for an act to manage for more than three years prior. She was the only one that fit the bill and that is unfortunate.

You can’t have a big fish in a small pond, it will not survive. We need to raise the bar; we need to make the pond bigger. I would like to see 20 artists coming out of Jamaica with international potential. It would certainly make my job a lot easier. We need to look at our music as a serious business,” Lee explained.

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