By Olimatta Taal
When you compare reggae music to other genres of music, you will notice that reggae artiste make the least amount of money on the pay scale.
The industry is full of disunity from every angle with the two heads of the industry always at each other's necks. Whether it's for media exposure or not, it makes everyone in the industry look unprofessional and ignorant. When we fight each other, it's easier for them to fight us, ban us, and demean the music.
Artistes are forgetting that they are where they are in their careers because of the teams of people pushing their careers at every level. The management team can consist of a manager, road manager, publicists, booking agent, security, engineers, merchandise director, etc.
The team depends on how big the artists is and what is needed. Now days, the artistes want to do everything for themselves. They want to book their own shows, be their own manager, and have a whole bunch of yes people around them trying to conduct business who know nothing about the business.
The artiste are more interested in the business of dubplates and not real business like handling a professional website, publishing, licensing agreements, distribution, and bookings etc. Our artistes have become so consumed by their own egos and the dogma that surrounds them every day, that we are forgetting that this is a business.
Like Jimmy Cliff said, “Reggae Music is 99% business and 1% art.” How many veteran artistes have died and died poor? All the years of recording music, don’t amount to anything if the artiste and their teams are not handling the business side of things.
It is really time for the Reggae Industry to get itself together. Pretty soon Jamaican Reggae will not mean anything to the rest of the world. In Europe, non-Jamaicans have learned the sound and are making names for themselves opening for Jamaican reggae acts at big festivals and concerts. In a few years, it won’t be necessary for a Jamaican Reggae Act to headline a show; the non-Jamaican Reggae artists would have created a demand and not need a Jamaica Reggae Act as the closing act. Just look closely at how the hip hop industry has changed.
The women in the industry have it so hard, whether they are artiste or part of the business side of things. Sexism and oppression of women is in its purest form. A woman can book a show and not get paid. A woman has to take off her clothes to get played or to bust unless she has a good team around her. If you are a Rasta woman it will take you twice as hard to make it compared to the secular female artiste. Many women compromise their principles to get a head. Don’t you dare say anything, or you get alienated or beaten up.
We got some serious spring cleaning to do in the Reggae Industry. Not to say that other industries are not corrupt, because they are. However, many of those genres have become co-opted by the music moguls to the point, now the industry no longer belongs to the people but the corporations which have commercialized the music.
We can continue to be disorganized, badmind and disunified. On the other hand, we can stop the back biting, get things together, be principled, ethical, fair, and really begin to understand the business side of Reggae Music. If we don’t, we are going to lose the industry of Reggae to people that don’t look like us and have nothing to do with the development of the genre. They will be making majority of the real money, while we fight for the crumbs.