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Experts Needed - Growth of Jamaican music stymied by a lack of knowledge

Published:Sunday | September 30, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Female DJ Tifa and her agent Jerome Hamilton of Headline Entertainment pose for the camera outside the Jamaica Tourist Board booth. - File

Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter

IT is an industry that earns millions, even billions each year and employs many in and outside of Jamaica, but the music industry is one of those areas that lacks the expertise needed to move the business forward.

Data from Economic and Social Survey Jamaica 2011, prepared by the Planning Institute Of Jamaica, revealed that

recreational, cultural and sporting activities contributed 2.7 per cent to overall GDP, similar to the contribution in 2009.

Yet, producer Shane Brown, manager of Busy Signal, says many persons see entertainment as merely a 'hustle'.

According to Brown, an important part of management is representing the artistes. He says the managers sign and vet contracts and get endorsements, so that the artistes do not have to focus on the business side and in turn have more time to be creative. He added that the manager should also be able to give the talent guidance and help him or her to make business decisions, as well as market and nurture the talent.

Patty shop

But
this is not always the case in Jamaica's music industry, he
says.

"In our music industry, we don't treat it like a
business, we tend to treat our industry like a patty shop, as if it's a
hustle," said Brown, who studied management studies at the University
of the West Indies.

"We don't have enough people that
are properly trained and educated to represent
artistes."

He continued: "What we have in Jamaica is a
lot of artistes representers who are not knowledgeable enough to make a
decision without the artiste. They are just front
men."

While he plays a big role, he says his
management of Busy Signal's career takes the form of a partnership
instead of a dictatorship.

Not employing knowledgeable
persons to work with them is one of the mistakes that persons often
make, says Headline Entertainment's managing director, Jerome
Hamilton.

With a company that offers promotion and
publicity, event planning and marketing, bookings and entertainment
consultancy, Hamilton says "artistes repeatedly try to use persons with
little or no knowledge of the music business to manage their careers,
which ultimately leads to their downfall."

Disagreeing
somewhat with Brown, Hamilton says artistes don't necessarily see the
industry as a hustle, but they fail to see its full
potential.

"I think a lot of them take it as their
chosen business, but I don't think they respect the magnitude of the
business. I don't think they see it as a hustle, but they don't see it
as the business that it is," he said, noting that the culture of some
artistes is to control all of their affairs. something that might be
difficult to change.

While there are many publicists
and booking agents, he said, "there is not enough people (in management)
with international experience."

Hamilton noted that
the industry also suffers because "it does not have a strong
collective."

While there is the Jamaica Reggae
Industry Association (JaRIA), he said a stronger organisation is needed
"to get the present generation to buy into it."

He
noted that there is also a need for those with the knowledge to pass it
on to those who lack it.

But there are other mistakes
that artistes make. Hamilton says not enough of them pay attention to
stage presentation and perfecting their craft. In addition, he said more
artistes need to release music of a higher
quality.

In the same breath, Hamilton said artistes
need to place "more value on our copyright and to make sure that we
properly register it."

Earlier this week, Jamaica
Intellectual Property Office hosted a workshop at the Edna Manley
College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMC) called 'How To Make A
Living From Music'. While this is one of several workshops that the
agency hosts from time to time, Joan Webley, manager of Copyright and
Related Rights at JIPO, says a lot of persons know little or nothing
about copyright.

"Persons have found out a little bit
about copyright. This little bit of information can cause further
confusion. They don't get the facts and they think they fully understand
how it works," she told The Sunday
Gleaner
.

Under Jamaica's Copyright Act 1993,
copyright applies to original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic
works, sound recordings, films, broadcasts or cable programme, and
typographical arrangements of published
editions.

While copyright is automatic, Webley says it
is important for the artiste's work to be properly documented so that
ownership is clear and they should ensure that they are registered with
the appropriate collection agencies.

For songwriters
and composers, she said the agency to be registered with is Jamaica
Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers Limited, while
producers should register with Jamaica Music Society (JAMMS). To collect
money if one's music is published and reproduced in any form, she said
the Jamaica Copyright Licensing Authority (JAMCOPY) would be the agency
to be registered with.

Despite the lack of experts,
there are a few institutions that are offering some level of training in
the business of entertainment. The University of the West Indies has a
degree programme in entertainment and cultural enterprise
management.

Management seminar

In
addition to the workshop that was held at EMC earlier this week, the
college recently had a music management seminar. The institution also
has an arts management-degree programme that offers training for
curators, managers, marketing and public relations practitioners,
creative and artistic directors.

The Vocational
Training Development Institute, the tertiary arm of HEART Trust/National
Training Agency, also offers a number of programmes in entertainment
and events management.

Some of the short courses
offered at the institutions are professional event planning and
production, the business of music, entertainment marketing and law and
the entertainment business.