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Price reductions could remedy poor album sales

Published:Tuesday | September 30, 2014 | 9:00 AM
Bob Marley
Contributed Chevaughn
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Following the move by the Marleys, to reduce the price of Bob Marley's iconic Legend album, which resulted in boosted sales, reggae artistes are now evaluating the record-breaking business decision, some wondering if a price reduction, could be a probable solution for the generally poor record sales that has plagued the music industry in recent years.

The digital version of the album (Legend), normally sells for US$8, however, as a part of the album's 30th anniversary celebration, the price was reduced to a mere 99 cents, which saw the album climbing to the number five spot on Billboard, selling more than 41,000 copies in one week, making it Bob Marley and the Wailers' highest charting album on Billboard.

Several Jamaican artistes have released albums in recent times, without the level of success they would have liked, as it relates to sales. Even internationally acclaimed reggae artistes like Sean Paul and Shaggy failed to make significant impact with their more recent albums, when compared to previous ones. Sean Paul's Tomahawk Technique and Shaggy's Out Of Many One Music, failed to duplicate the success of their previous Dutty Rock and Hot Shot albums, respectively.

However, former C Sharp lead singer-turned-soloist, Chevaughn, does not buy into the idea of reducing album prices in order to boost sales. The artiste told The Gleaner that the music industry had passed the record sales era, and was now performance driven. He advised artistes to develop a strong catalogue of music and focus on tours instead of album sales.

"Nowadays, records don't sell, but that (the move by the Marleys) was a good marketing strategy. It's really about performances, so artistes who are releasing projects, once they are able to put on a good show, which Bob Marley can't do at this point, once you can make money from performances, you don't have to worry about albums selling," he said.

The reggae artiste believes a reduction of album prices would favour deceased artistes rather than those who are still alive. "The Marleys must have gone through several meetings to come to that decision. But for the album to have reached number five on the Billboard as a result, that is definitely great. That is the way for an artiste who is deceased, but his music still has to be relevant. For artistes who are still alive, if you need to do that for sales, it simply means you need to work on your performance skills," he said.

Ruddy Isaacs, the former manager and brother of Gregory Isaacs, does not support Chevaughn's view. Isaacs, who is gearing up to host a memorial for 'the cool ruler', says, whether the artiste is dead or alive, a good business decision is simply a good business decision. According to the veteran manager, even if the recording artiste chooses to give away albums free of cost, they would still stand to benefit from the promotion, based on the reach of the product.

"I support the Marleys' move. It's for a specific time, its not like you are going to get up everyday and sell yuh album cheap. Suppose you can sell 200 million at 99 cents ... it's way better than to sell only 20 copies at US$8," Isaacs explained.

To date, Marley's Legend, is reggae music's highest selling album of all time.

curtis.campbell@gleanerjm.com