Athletes should expand their brand - Insiders weigh in on Bolt’s music efforts
As athletes are becoming more aware of the importance of securing their own future post-retirement, businessman Chris Dehring underscored the importance of sporting figures building their individual brands and be bold in exploring non-traditional ventures after their playing careers.
While the normal route for athletes’ post-retirement activities tend to centre around coaching or various roles in the media, some have managed to use their brand to explore other opportunities.
The case of multiple Olympic and World champion sprinter Usain Bolt has been prevalent with his latest project in music, a collaboration with his best friend and executive manager, Nugent Walker. However, there has been some criticism of the Bolt’s post-retirement dabble in music.
Dehring, who has been involved in several major sporting interests, including the execution of the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the West Indies, credited the double sprint world record holder for his moves, and believes it exemplifies that athletes should pay close attention to building and sustaining their personal brand, so that they can secure financial capital and ability to pursue their personal interests.
“The benefit that you have after becoming an athlete and succeeding is how can you then translate that brand into other industries and other commercial ventures. And it is incumbent upon them to make sure that you develop such a brand while you have the limelight, that that brand can take you to other areas of endeavour,” Dehring told The Sunday Gleaner.
Bolt is not the only athlete that is currently involved in music, as national footballers Damion Lowe and Je-Vaughn Watson have also ventured into the field, the latter as a recording artiste being managed by Lowe and his Monarch Entertainment Label.
Several high-profile international athletes have also not taken the traditional route of media or coaching in taking their brand to different industries, with NBA star LeBron James notably getting involved in education, with creation of a public elementary school through his foundation targeting at-risk children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, as well as several other business interests outside of basketball.
“It is part of the career of any athlete to make sure that they polish, protect and preserve that brand because that’s the brand that they will be able to use afterwards in anything that they want to do,” Dehring said. “The Bolt brand is a very valuable brand and he deserves everything he gets, and he should take that brand out for a spin. You have to take some risks with any brand. Try it out on different products and industries and other commercial endeavours.”
Music producer Mikey Bennett, who composed for artistes such as Ziggy Marley, Maxi Priest, UB40 and Dennis Brown, says that athletes wanting to go into the music business is not surprising, as they both have similar traits.
“People who have been exposed to passion, exposed to discipline, exposed to [work] ethic are attracted to each other. I’m not surprised when people who probably made some money or made a career out of something that is more short-term in terms of how long you can stay in the thing, whether it’s an athlete or a footballer, can identify with the passion of young musicians and want to be a part of it,” Bennett said.
Additionally, Bennett said that because of his jovial personality and his love for Jamaican culture, he was not surprised by Bolt’s immersion into the local music industry.
In addition to his Living the Dream single project with Walker, Bolt, who has launched several successful business ventures in Jamaica and internationally, has also produced the Olympe Rose compilation that features tracks from dancehall standouts such as Vybz Kartel, Dexta Daps, Ding Dong, Munga Honourable and Chris Martin. He is expected to release another project soon.