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Artistes do Christmas shows for little or nothing - But naughty or nice, they demand big money for Sting

Published:Sunday | December 20, 2015 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
A crowded stage at the recent Boom TV-sponsored Getthoe Splash 2015, held at the Waterhouse Mini Stadium in Drewsland, St Andrew last Tuesday, as entertainers flooded the event to perform.

For many artistes and party/show promoters, Christmas time is the period they make most of their earnings and should therefore be the happiest time of year for them, as more events should equal more earning. However, some artistes and promoters dub the season as their most stressful, and the problems they face do not come from juggling these shows or organising numerous events, but from unreasonable demands from both ends of the table.

In separate interviews with The Gleaner, both artistes and promoters claim to have been victims of overpricing. Last week, some up-and-coming artistes put some promoters on blast for charging them to perform on their shows after reading comments made by promoters, published in a previous article, that artistes were charging too much for appearance fees. This week, some promoters are still fuming about the issue of overcharging for appearances, as they believe there are some entertainers who are biased towards certain shows or events.

These sentiments come on the heels of two major stage shows (West Kingston Jamboree and Ghetto Splash) held over the past week. West Kingston Jamboree was held last Sunday at the Tivoli Gardens Play field and Ghetto Splash was held at the Waterhouse Mini Stadium on Tuesday. Both shows boasted an impressive line-up of artistes with some of the biggest names in the industry. Some artistes on these shows give of their time, free of charge a gesture promoters of other events welcome, but do not fully understand. The promoters of Sting in particular, cannot understand why some of the artistes charging them millions for appearances, would do other shows for free.




In an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, Sting's publicist, Keona Williams, said that while she has nothing against an artiste performing for free on some shows, she can't understand why they (the artistes) would charge her team exorbitant fees when they do not even request those amounts from overseas promoters.

"It beats me why an entertainer and their management team would want to request a performance fee that is significantly larger than what they charge for any other event," she expressed. "Performing for free and low fees across the island over the entire year and then request a giant sum from Sting appears ridiculous in my opinion. The fees being charged even exceed amounts they accept overseas."

Williams went on to reveal that Sting promoters are not seeking to hustle entertainers out of what they are rightfully due, as they pay artistes the fees that are usually charged to secure their performances across the board.

"A lot of persons are getting the wrong perception. Sting promoters are not paying below what these artistes usually charge. The artistes are the ones skyrocketing the fees for Sting alone, charging double and triple their usual rate."

Oneil Coke, director of Liv Up Records, whose company organises West Kingston Jamboree, said that while there are some entertainers who may want to cash in on Sting because they view it as a money-making event, one should not confuse his event with an event such as Sting.

"Jamboree is different from Sting," he explained. "The approach is different. Our show is a community show, it is free and is all about bringing unity to the community and giving back. Artistes understand what the show stands for, and therefore, they give and take when it comes to charging us."

Coke went on to reveal that contrary to popular belief, there are entertainers on his show's line-up who are paid to perform and that they, too, are met with unreasonable demands from





"Those (beliefs that artistes perform for free) are just speculation. We pay some of the entertainers on our show, and there are some who ask for excess amounts to come, and if we don't have it, we just don't have it and haffi pass on them making an appearance. We just haffi respect that because a fi dem craft and a so dem earn dem bread."

Coke also gave some advice he thinks would be useful to promoters.

"You have to establish a relationship with the artistes," he said. "Both parties have to have an understanding fi see how dem ago approach the money issue. With our show, artistes understand that it is a givingback initiative and so they use their discretion."

One of the directors at Supreme Promotions (responsible for Sting), Heavy D, said that while he understands that there is a difference between certain events, there are artistes who have the wrong impression when it comes to Sting.

"A lot of them think we a make this bag a money, so they charge Sting nuff money," he said. "Little do they know that we don't make profit off of Sting. Even though music and sports bring the most attention, tourist and money to Jamaica, we still don't get the respect and endorsements we should be from the sponsors. Dancehall don't get no bag a sponsorship, and so we have to fund the event ourselves, and it's just the love for the music that keeps us going because we spend millions every year to keep this show and struggle to break even everytime."

He then sought to remind Jamaicans that despite the economic challenges they are faced with, the ticket prices for Sting have remained the same for the past few years.

Heavy D then brought another issue to the fore, saying that Sting could try and meet the demands of some of the entertainers if they believed they had what it took to pull the crowd and ensure profit turnovers on the night.

"The funny thing about it why we can't even pay them that, too, is because a lot of the artistes [who] charging big money to perform can't generate the same amount of ticket sales," he said. "It don't make sense at the end of the day to pay all that money and not being able to make it back at the gates."

He used some artistes as examples to drive home his point. "Buju Banton and Vybz Kartel could have sell tickets to pay triple and double any price they charge, but right now, that wouldn't be the same for Dexta Daps, unfortunately. Even though they may have a big name in the business, if we book them, they can't give us the crowd that Kartel and Mavado gave us back in 2008. So what sense that really make?"

In closing, Williams cited that if entertainers are not careful, they stand the chance of significantly damaging their careers by putting money first.

"A smart artiste and management team understand the significance of certain events," she said, using Beenie Man and Elephant Man as examples. "Both were asked to perform at BET in 2013 and they copped the opportunity. Other Jamaican acts got the call, and because of money, they didn't show. Elephant and Beenie understood the benefits of that particular platform, and as a result of their performance, they trended worldwide on the Internet and they both had increased record sales."