Tue | Mar 19, 2019

Changing the face of reggae

Published:Monday | June 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Patrina Pink, Gleaner Intern

ALMOST EVERYONE knows 'that' artiste - the one they say had a hit song in the 1970s or '80s, but now it's 2010 and he has since then been relegated to near poverty and is a shadow of his former self.

Unlike him, his song remains a classic, often under the skin of some European couple as they dance the night away in a 'funky' Euro-dance.

It's a sad tale and one too often told; he is a victim of piracy.

ReggaeInc is one company that seeks to ensure that these tales are rare. Since its inception in 2003, it has been making tidal waves in the local music industry. The digital distribution company - the third largest in Europe - is evolving with the ever-changing musical landscape and is vigilant in ensuring that the music remains profitable to musicians. With labels like Taxi Records, Mixing Lab, Phat Trax Productions and many others under its belt, ReggaeInc has its fingers on the pulse of Jamaican music.

Levent Karahan, chief executive officer (CEO) of ReggaeInc, considers himself an advocate in the fight against piracy. The 45-year-old Turk leaves a lasting impression with his infectious passion for the mobility of Jamaica and its music.

"Our goals are to aggregate as much quality reggae as possible and to deliver them to as many stores and consumers worldwide," said Karahan. That mission has not been without its challenges, but ReggaeInc says strategic partnerships are the answer to countering widescale and unfettered piracy. This is especially true for Europe and Japan, where consumption of reggae is constantly increasing.

"We are looking into strategic partnerships with innovative internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile carriers networks in Jamaica and worldwide to give consumers a real alternative," said the ReggaeInc CEO. Karahan made reference to Denmark's TDC, a mobile provider that allows unlimited music downloads to consumers for a relatively small subscription fee.

Groundbreaking service

The groundbreaking music service offers unlimited access to music downloads to their Danish mobile and broadband customers. Funds are then repatriated to copyright owners on the basis of the number of downloads.

The new music service called PLAY has been getting massive support from customers in the Nordic region and since 2008 has played a significant role in transforming the relationship between mobile providers and the music industry there.

For Karahan, it is a win-win situation and he envisions the service working effectively in Jamaica.

"We believe that reggae fans are willing to support reggae stars, but it is for us (artistes, producers, labels, distributors, ISPs and mobile-carrier networks) to give them a real option," said Karahan. He envisions a day when local companies will be able to offer this service to customers.

Karahan says it is all about making sure that reggae and its one-love message is sustained and that singers and players of instruments profit from their life's work.