Sat | Sep 26, 2020

Streaming could trump US travel woes

Published:Friday | February 3, 2017 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
A smiling Beenie Man closing Reggae Sumfest 2016's Dancehall Night.
A fire dancer at Reggae Sumfest 2016.
Part of the audience at Reggae Sumfest 2016 in Montego Bay, St James.
Reggae Sumfest organisers Joe Bogdanovich (centre), Johnny Gourzong (left) and Robert Russell.
Tony Rebel cuts his birthday cake on stage at Rebel Salute 2017, Grizzly's Plantatio Cove, St Ann.
Agent Sasco at Rebel Salute 2017.
Popcaan performng at Rebel Salute 2017 as Andre Hugh Sutherland.

As concerns rise about travel restrictions being imposed by US President Donald Trump and how they will affect Jamaica, organisers of two of the country's biggest music festivals are encouraging others in the business to channel their energies and resources into building solid online platforms for their events.

The organisers of Rebel Salute, held in January at Grizzly's Plantation Cove, Priory, St Ann, and Reggae Sumfest, staged in Montego Bay, St James, in July, told The Sunday Gleaner that with the uncertainty surrounding decisions being made by President Trump, it would be wise for promoters to invest in the streaming option.

IN PHOTO: Part of the audience at Reggae Sumfest 2016 in Montego Bay, Sy James

With a high proportion of the audience coming from overseas, the US naturally a large market, visitor attendance could fall. This could result not only from an outright ban, but fears about not being able to re-enter the US after attending the event in Jamaica. Also, persons attending the events from countries outside the US who are no longer able - or are unwilling - to travel through the US will most likely face higher travel costs. This could lead to them choosing to stay home.



Tony Rebel, the main man behind Rebel Salute, explained that while the travel bans are not expected to adversely affect Jamaica, the entertainment industry should be getting its house in order, as anything can happen. Rebel explained that over the years, he has been trying to get the online platform for his festival up and running and says he will now be working overtime to get that off the ground.

"We have been trying to use online to give patrons who love Rebel Salute a taste of what is happening at the event and we will continue working on it. Online streaming is an added way to promote your event and an added way to generate income," he said. "With all that is going on now with Trump and the uncertainty surrounding his executive orders, one is unsure of how far travel issues will go, and so one has to use all the different avenues. As entertainers, we can take advantage of the option of going live to still give our product to the world, particularly those places that we might not be able to travel to physically."

IN PHOTO: Reggae Sumfest organisers Joe Bogdanovich (centre), Johnny Gourzong (left) and Robert Russell.

Joe Bogdanovich, CEO of Downsound Records and the new owner of Reggae Sumfest, explained that the live-streaming option is perfect for those who cannot physically attend an event, whether as a patron or as a performer. He said last year's Sumfest - the first under his ownership - the live-streaming platform drew more than 20 million views. He expects that number to increase as more persons opt for live streaming.

In response to questions surrounding the travel concerns Sepp Donahower, the man responsible for the live streaming of Reggae Sumfest, told The Sunday Gleaner that while the restrictions may spell bad for some countries, he does not foresee any problems for Jamaicans. He went on to urge music industry professionals that should there be any adverse falling out between Jamaica and the US in the near future, they get creative with how they transmit their product to the world.

"Online platforms give options to persons from banned countries to enjoy entertainment," he said, explaining that technology is so advanced these days that watching a live show from the comfort of your living room may be just as satisfying as watching at the venue itself.

"Technology is advancing so much that you can get a pretty satisfying experience from watching from thousands of miles away, even on your cell phone. The experience has got pretty good, so I suspect more people will be opting to go the live-stream route in the years to come," he said.

Donahower is expecting live streaming to be the next big thing in the future of music festivals, not only giving the concert experience added dimension, but making it more accessible to a larger audience.