Kavelle Anglin-Christie, Staff Reporter
The audience gets involved in one of the performances at Caribbean Rising, the MTV Tempo Jamaican launch held in October 2005 at the James Bond Beach in St. Mary, despite heavy rainfall.- FILE PHOTOS
ALMOST 30 years after Bob Marley's One Love was released on the Exodus album, it's message of 'oneness' has blossomed beyond inclusion in a mere tourism advertisement or being dug up during times of strife. It has taken on a regularly seen face through the MTV Caribbean channel, Tempo, which shows the video regularly.
Caribbean unity goes beyond the cricket pitch and the University of the West Indies when you are plopped down on your couch at home 'Jamdown', tuned in to Tempo, and someone you may or may not know in Antigua is watching the same station your station.
As you watch the old Chakademus and Pliers Tease Me video, you are flooded by memories of years gone by. Suddenly, Tempo's V.J. Jeanille Bonterre chips in and for the first time you know what she means when she says "it's a feeling. It's a
According to Frederick Morton, general manager of Tempo, this was the objective. "I wanted it to ultimately become the premier platform of Caribbean culture ... which we know is vibrant and rich in a major way ... as for the
creative community, most of them are pleased with the platform, which provides an outlet that they didn't have before to expose their art. This is the first throughout the Caribbean and then ultimately the world stage, so that's the idea," he said.
Eight months after the station was launched in over 15 Caribbean countries many artistes are impressed with the station, which singer Pliers describes as "it's beautiful, real nice." With many Jamaican stations not giving videos of yesteryear a second glance because they are often preoccupied with new artistes, Pliers says Tempo is a vehicle through which many young people are able learn about what went before.
"Sometimes they concentrate on the new artistes so much that they forget about the elders and what we do. So I believe that Tempo is really showing that we are still remembered and showing respect to us," Pliers said.
"There are artistes who never made a video top artistes in the Caribbean who for the first time are making a video because of Tempo. They now see that there is a reason to do something. So they'll probably invest US$20,000 instead of US$2000, because they can see that they can now put it on Tempo.
"An artiste that nobody knew that might have been the biggest artiste in Trinidad, that nobody knew outside of Trinidad, is now getting calls from St. Lucia, Dominica and that's a fact and that's what's been happening," Morton said.
Nonetheless, simply because you are considered one of your country's greats isn't enough to get you airplay on Tempo. The video has to be of high quality and Morton makes no apologies for this, saying they have become the yardstick for other stations.
"At the end of the day we want to encourage growth, everyone of us. It probably was OK prior to Tempo, or it probably wasn't OK ... but Tempo has to be aspirational for the Caribbean community and throughout the world, so that when your video is on Tempo it means something," he said.
As part of their growth, Tempo is forging ahead with new programmes. They recently launched the first 'Cross Caribbean Countdown', which features artistes from across the region. "We started a music video countdown which is going to be a really major platform for our artists and portraying the music and getting it out there. A series of countdowns can do a whole lot for album sales or performances and for an artiste's career .... so the idea is to creatively grow the countdown and to have it be the definitive countdown in the region," Morton said.
So far, there are five Jamaican acts on the charts. They are Broadway by Shaggy featuring Barrington Levy, Damian 'Junior Gong' Marley featuring Bobby Brown with Beautiful, I-Wayne's Life Seeds, Morgan Heritage with Tell Me How Come and Vegas and Mr. Lexx with Taxi Fare. This signifies not only that reggae music is probably the most popular genre across the region but also emphasises the sheer volume of videos that Tempo staff have to sift through and this is no small feat.
Morton says with a good team and effective planning, Tempo has managed to pull it off. Among those who help to compile the charts are two noted disc jocks, Jagga B and Dahved Levy, who are also hosts on the channel.
"We come up with our own methodology as to how and which songs make the countdown. It's a combination of the strength of the song in the region as well as the quality of the video. So you can have one of the best songs in the region, but if it's a crappy video then it won't make the countdown. Vice versa, less so, but vice versa. If you have a great video, it might help your song to get on the countdown," he said.
Morton says they intend to do other countdowns in the future, but only when they perfect the current one. He is obviously aware that the station is still in its creeping stages and when asked about some of the shows that have been advertised as 'coming soon' since the inception of the channel, he assured that viewers need not worry because they are indeed coming. This includes Jabba's show 'Pull Up Selecta'.
"I'm very excited about 'Pull Up Selecta' and I know the audience has heard that it's coming soon, but it's truly coming soon. We wanted to start off a little quicker with it, but for me, before I do anything it's gotta be right. So we've been trying to perfect it and we have it in a place right now where it's going to be a very compelling show one of our strongest shows, I can't wait for it to come out," he said.
The concept of the show is getting artistes from dancehall, reggaeton and hip hop together and showing that all three are interconnected.
"It's about getting to the true authentic vibe of dancehall, reggaeton and hip-hop and the interconnection between the three ... then link it back to what we know as a sound system with the ultimate DJ, the dance and the sound
system ... so we built the set for it, which includes traditional dancehall set-up. It should be coming next month or so," Morton said.
Morton also says broadcasting live shows is an intention for the future but (you guessed it) it has to be extraordinary.
"Live programming is definitely something that we will be looking into for the future ...we don't want to just do a live performance or broadcast live from a performance; that's been done before and we'll do that eventually. When we go live it will be something creative and unique, because everything Tempo does has to be creatively new and bringing the culture to the world in a very different way on a quality platform and so when we go live it's going to be very, very interesting. I can guarantee it," said Morton.
Anyone who watches Tempo will gratefully note that they do not carry a plethora of advertisements.
"Everything you see when you watch Tempo, just think strategy ... it's a strategic move not to have a lot of ads on the channel right away because the quickest way to turn off a community is to have a bunch of ads blaring off the TV screen. So what you want to do is connect with your audience in a sort of emotional way so that they can actually be happy with what they are seeing, so what becomes important in the beginning is the look, the feel and the quality of the channel," he said.
Morton noted that their major sponsors are Cable and Wireless, with whom they have signed a three-year deal.
"We also started with Heineken, American Airlines and advertisers that made sense for the building of the brand because the last thing that we wanted to have was a bunch of little advertisers all over the channel. So now what has happened is that the audience is now connected in an emotional way ... so when you do see the advertisements, you'll see advertisers that make sense. You are going to see multinational companies that invest in the region. You are going to see companies that make sense to the development of the brand and to the consumer. So everything about Tempo, including it's advertising community, is a strategic move," Morton said.
He says in two years he sees Tempo as one of the leading stations, not only in the Caribbean, but also in First World countries.
"I can tell you that my desire for the next two years is to be the premier Caribbean authentic channel that everyone one wants to be a part of ... I ultimately believe that we need to put each other first, because we've never done that. So now Trinidad knows what's happening in St. Lucia and St. Lucia knows what's happening in Jamaica, and you realise the strength of each other. That was my intention. So we then go out in the world together because together we have greater strength," Morton said.