Industry players urged to explore other platforms
WITH COVID-19 bringing the entertainment sector to a halt with travel restrictions and a ban on public gatherings, industry professionals have been keeping in touch with their fans via online platforms. Locally, Instagram and Facebook have been the two main platforms utilised by artistes, DJs and selectors. But while the platforms allow industry professionals to stay connected, it doesn’t offer them an avenue for earning. Now, with no clear indication given as to when the entertainment industry will get up and running again, a group of industry players is urging their colleagues to expand their horizons and seek out additional online platforms.
In a live chat streamed from ZJ Sparks’ Instagram page on Saturday, internationally renowned producer Walshy Fire said it is high time Jamaican content creators start thinking of ways to earn from the virtual world. He expressed that while COVID-19 caught everyone by surprise, some countries have already begun to earn from these online platforms and Jamaica needs to follow suit. “None of us were prepared for it (COVID-19), but there were a few people who were able to adapt smoothly to live streaming because they were previously doing it, but the majority of people were confused and panicking,” he said. “But with that said, these platforms that we’re using are not ready for us. We’re doing black music and this platform that we love doesn’t have black music copyright laws ready for us to come on and do what we gotta do,” he stated. Other platforms such as Twitch and Mixcloud, he said, free users “from worrying about the copyright laws and a lot of other issues”.
Walshy Fire was making reference to the fact that although Instagram is one of the biggest platforms being used by music industry professionals from Jamaica, Instagram music, which gives a user access to a plethora of songs, is not accessible in Jamaica and does not include Jamaican music on the feature.
NO MORE EXCUSES
Agreeing with Walshy Fire, Jeremy Harding, A&R consultant for VP Records shared that Jamaica needs to start taking charge of all the technology available. “The IG thing, even though it’s a nice thing for us to get together here and leave a message, it’s not a robust platform in trying to monetise music or perform music, so Walshy is exactly correct,” he said. According to Harding, as creators and consumers both, the industry has been very behind in embracing new technology and novel platfroms. “We were still pressing CDs when iTunes was booming, and by the time we realised that we could sell music on iTunes, it was done and we’re on to streaming.”
He said that the COVID-19 situation should force the industry to immediately embrace the new technology and platforms right away. “There can be no more excuses – like we don’t know what Spotify is, or what Twitch is, or Mixcloud – because we have been forced to take a real examination on what’s gonna be out there for us to continue to monetising what we’re doing,” he continued.
Pointing out that a lot of selectors have been badly beaten by the entertainment space going online, popular entertainer Trippple X concurred with Harding that a reassessment needs to be done in how to position the entertainment industry in today’s virtual world.
“It nah go back to business as usual no time for now, so we might as well really and truly wipe that fallacy deh outta we head. Social media beat a whole heap a dem selector yah bad because a lot of dem that were dominant in the space (physical dancehall space), they have not been seamless in the transition into the virtual space. It has shown that the reason why you are at the level where you are at, is because you had somehow convinced people that you are the man and you need to collect this fi do da;t so the ‘pay for play’ has really been highlighted now. So right now, is back to the drawing board fi nuff man. Issa evolution this,” he stated.