Record label owners do not reside within the reggae community. They may use us from time to time but there are no powerful record labels within the reggae genre (VP and Greensleeves were small to moderate labels). Seems a bit of an oxymoron of sorts that the most popular / played music has no infrastructure???
Did reggae shoot itself in the foot? Did we make the music really accessible to the masses in order to beat the 'block' put on by labels never playing reggae on mainstream radio so the 'riddim culture' of several artists singing on one 'riddim', mixed tapes / CDs, free internet radio and other creative ways of playing the music has totally devalued the music as well as the genre?
People still clamor to concerts for certain artists yet for the vast majority, the reggae game is a 'hustle'.
From my experience in Canada, it finally dawned on me what we did or did not do with reggae music. All those years performing at The Bamboo on Queen and opening up for international acts at Lee's Palace, The El Mocambo or the Copa or The Masonic Temple or The Opera House was our hanging on to a piece of the 'reggae train' that was a world wide scene. We feasted on the 'reggae train'! We never created a fan base of our own! Artists performing in Canada have a very limited fan base as evidenced by the audiences that go to most shows. It is not for me to decide or to judge whether they are any good or not! Just pointing out the obvious.
There are the bright lights of the folks who run Redemption, or the Irie Festival and Jambana yet for most of the 'artists' there is limited to zero success where most are concerned.
In conversation with some of the artists, they point to promoters for events who expect them to perform for free or for little payment. Some of these artists know exactly how much the headliner is earning yet the promoter won't pay them? As artists, they rehearse just as hard, take the same amount of time to write original tunes and are every bit as good as some of the headliners. "Why are you paying us less or expecting freeness?". "Shouldn't talent be properly valued as well as compensated?
In conversation with the promoters, some shy away from some of the artists performing in Canada who insist on "guaranteed payment"! Are artists guaranteed payment just because they rehearse?
To a promoter, the headliner / s bring in the audience in the first place. With or without the local acts folks go because of the headliners. That is a fact of life! So promoters feel like they are doing the local acts a favor by including them on the bill in the first place.
Another major pet peeve of the promoter is artists who show up with an entourage 10 deep or a 40 person guestlist yet still expect payment at the end of the night. Really?
Local acts get all excited to perform and to entertain these audiences then they book their own shows, maybe five or ten people show up and promoters are aware of these fails by local acts.
This "fail" is on the shoulders of everyone! All of us! We have not inspired reggae consumers to choose our "Canadian" product. We have not inspired the next generation of reggae performers! How come we haven't found a venue of our own created an environment for the fan base to come out and to support the genre? All the bands and artists come by and jam week after week and encourage fans from all walks to come by and hang and support?
The knowledge of this is not "news" folks, it is the real! It is obvious as more and more folks are having this exact same conversation in all parts of the genre.
I have selfish ulterior motives. I'd like to earn based on the work that I do. There are limited amounts of folks in this genre who actually earn anything from their work. We are so devalued, folks come to jams and still don't wish to pay to get in. They come and party yet feel that they shouldn't have to pay. How come? They would argue about the ticket price at a Beres show? I'm sure that they wouldn't!
We have devalued ourselves!
Our audiences will go where it is cheap and easy as there is always a spot for it. We will undercut each other every chance that we get. Promoters will offer x-amount to artist "A" then offer less to artist "B" who will accept it, then promoter will cancel artist "A".
Fan "A" will go to another event on Sunday or Tuesday or Wednesday in order to not pay $5.00 at the door on Monday. So promoter or event host ends up canceling their event as the night makes no money.
Is this the fault of the fan? I think not! A fan will do anything to be properly entertained. Anything! At Any price!
This is the beginning of a conversation. Some observations... Yes I am seeking viable solutions.
Do you have any?