By Curtis Campbell—
Veteran reggae artist Phillip Fraser has employed a self-promotion strategy to distribute his 13th album, I Who Have Nothing.
According to the artist, his decision to manually distribute the album came out of his distrust for distribution companies. The artist revealed that during the early days of reggae music, artists were extremely ignorant to the business of music and, as a result, many sold their rights and were underpaid by distribution companies.
He said following his realization that companies did not have the interest of artists at hand, he decided that he would study the music business and learn how to distribute his own music. The decision has literally seen the veteran travelling with boxes of his music overseas, where he sells them at festivals and designated locations.
The artist, who operates his own record label – Razor Sound, says he has collaborated with other producers like Tristan Palmer on his albums. However, he is in control of his art.
“I benefit from sales because I do my own distribution. I tek the plane and I go all bout to sell my thing because I don’t afraid to do it. I used to go to companies to distribute my music and when you go for your royalties … it’s a joke. Those people name is so big, yet where are the sales? So I take it up on myself because no company will walk with your records on their back,” he said.
“I used to see Mr (Winston) Riley selling his records and he said to me that it’s more beneficial, and mi seh ‘A true enuh, Mr Riley, mi a guh follow yu footsteps.’ If I follow distribution companies, me and my family ah guh mash up because I invest too much money in music to not see good results. So I just start press mi things dem and sell dem,” he said.
VINYL OVER CDS
The veteran is still a firm believer in vinyl, as he says the recording format is the gold of music, especially reggae. He pointed out that CDs were not reliable.
“If I come to your record shop and buy a vinyl, it hard for you to go home and duplicate it. But with CDs, a man tek yu music and put it on compilations with other artists and you are left to wonder where is your money and who gave rights to that production? CDs are just to keep us in the business, but where sales are concerned, vinyl is the way to go,” he said.
Fraser recently returned from the United States, where he embarked on a promotional tour, selling several of his records. He also noted that despite the fact that he sells his records manually, he still registers with official collecting agencies.
As for his grasp on social media, the veteran said his son keeps him in the loop. He is also asking that Jamaicans respect the music and the pioneers who helped to develop the genre, including himself.
“I can’t believe in Jamaica where I born and grow dem try shelve mi. But a same suh Bob Marley was accepted overseas and dem never rate him here until him dead. The last show I perform here is I keep it, but you have to ask Rebel Salute, Star Time and dem thing deh why I not on it,” he said.
The artist also said that despite the lack of sales for reggae music, it is still good to produce an album because it enforces relevance and adds to the catalog.