With the scarcity of live events in Jamaica, the availability of gigs for reggae bands has given cause for serious concern.
THE STAR spoke with veteran musician and producer Dwayne ‘Cahban’ Morris. He has been working with the Ruff Kutt band for over five years and is of the view that local bands should be looking overseas for opportunities.
“Dem haffi look market outside of what is going on in Jamaica. Business in Jamaica is at an all-time low, and remember, people like Bob Marley had to leave Jamaica for a while because at one point, Jamaica only wanted to hear Yellow Man and U Roy,” he said.
He also said that bands are too focused on the creative process and usually pay less attention to the promotion of the final product.
“Bands must work on marketing and not just making music. They are in the lab working every day, but they need to get out of the lab and then they will begin to see the possibility for success. The world is big, but some people can’t see past Jamaica … you have to be vulnerable and prepare to get disappointed as well,” he said.
Aside from self-marketing, reggae bands like The Wailers and most recently the Zinc Fence band, managed to achieve global popularity by launching their careers as backing bands for powerful acts like Bob Marley and Chronixx, respectively. The veteran musician says that while this strategy is good, musicians should also focus on making themselves into brands since bands are known to disintegrate after a while.
“Breaking under the wings of a big artist is good for the band but not for the individuals who make up the band. So it is good to build your personal brand so that you can stand on your own in case the artist leaves. For example, look at Dean Frazer. He was a part of Luciano’s band, but in the aftermath of their separation, he is still able to do shows because of his brand power,” he said.
The industry has seen the rise of several reggae bands over the last five years, but few have managed to survive in the competitive music industry. However, bands like Zinc Fence and Raging Fyah have managed to stay afloat, with the latter currently nominated for a Grammy Award.