US$7,000 to US$10,000 for 10 dubplates - Prices weighing heavily on sound system business
There is not a hard and fast price scale for an artiste to voice a dubplate for a sound system or selector. However, Garfield 'Chin' Bourne of Irish and Chin, which stages the annual World Clash sound system battle, last held in Canada last October, gave The Gleaner, an approximate range of going prices. He said that artistes charge between US$7,000 and US$10,000 to voice 10 dubplates. However, there have been instances when a selector approaches an artiste with money, but has to be satisfied with two dubplates, as the artiste says that is all they are going to voice that day.
"The dubplate business is now a full-blown industry, which is not healthy for moving forward the sound-system culture," Chin said. Irish and Chin staged the Death Before Dishonour sound clash in Montego Bay, St James, up to the earlier part of this decade. But the high cost of dubplates, which are a must-have for clashes, was affecting that part of sound system culture badly.
"That is why you do not have many clashes anymore. Think about it - if you spend US$20,000 and lose the clash, there is no return to carry you to the next clash. It is really a gamble," Chin said. So, Chin said that for many sound systems, cutting dubplates is really a hobby or something done more for bragging rights than a realistic hope to realise returns.
"You end up putting more into the business than you can get out of it," Chin said.
For its first two years, after an online announcement, winners in the World Clash Dubplate Awards have been handed their plaques at various locations where the organisers catch up with them. However, Chin is looking towards the time when there will be an event in a physical location - with a sound system in place, naturally.