Davina Henry, Staff Reporter
With a decline in record sales and a decrease in the number of stage shows held annually, dancehall and reggae artistes alike are now focusing on expanding their brands. While this is not a new trend, it is interesting that more and more Jamaicans are catching on.
Reggae artiste Busy Signal is on the verge of releasing his TURF merchandise line. The line will comprise of tops for both sexes, colognes, perfumes, slippers for the ladies, Hot Head glasses and DVDs with live performances.
"I think having a merchandising line is very important. We can't rely on sales alone as a source of income because that's not really happening right now. Record sales are down. There's a lot of things in the pipeline so I'm definitely looking forward to it," Busy told The Sunday Gleaner.
According to Busy Signal, the 'TURF' line, which is scheduled to be debuted before the end of the year is his opportunity to expand his brand and his business.
"I'm looking at it as a business within the Busy Signal brand. I'm also looking into endorsements, appearances as well as merchandising and I hope its gonna be a success. A whole heap a tings mi a look into because wi nah rely on record sales only. I'm taking that business step because it's important to me and I think the fans will be appreciative of this," he added.
But with artistes failing to successfully continue their merchandising line, Busy Signal is confident he won't suffer the same fate.
"The sustainability of the line depends on how the artiste carries him or herself and how they monitor their business. Yes, the clothes dem must look good etc. but the artiste also has to keep current. Music is what started it and that's what will keep Busy Signal as the brand going. You haffi make sure you designs look good fi attract the people but you also need to ensure that you are current and then everything will fall into place after that," Busy Signal said.
I-Octane was in complete agreement with Busy Signal.
"It's about brand development for me and my team along with opening additional revenue streams as a 100 per cent independent artiste. That's why I've kept investing in my brand by doing music videos and showing different sides of me with the YouTube blog series. I know my worth, based on my investments and I know where I stand in the business, I'm a touring artiste with a strong brand name, so merchandising was a natural step. It was just about approaching it the correct way," I-Octane said.
He added that he is not closed to any opportunity, including opening a store, but as soon as the line debuts it will be available on itsioctane.com/shop.
I-Octane's line will feature skateboards, tanks and tees.
"The way we are approaching it makes it sustainable. The plan is based on a long-term vision by my partners at Silver Factory Merch, a company in New York. Merchandising is a global business, so for me it's not based on revenue I can generate in Jamaica, but rather making money outside of the island and investing back into Jamaica. As far as other artistes doing merchandise, I highly encourage it. The way the music is set up, it's imperative for the artiste to do that, to not only make income but keep building their brand."
One artiste who launched a merchandise line several years ago was General Degree. His Reh Geh line was launched in 2005. Just last year, he also launched Quenchable - his own local brand of purified water.
In a previous interview with THE STAR, General Degree noted that a clothing line strengthens brand Jamaica.
"Having a clothing brand as an artiste gives more power to the local brand. When you have names like KipRich, Bounty Killer and Mavado with their own brands, it makes the whole Jamaican brand more popular," he said.
He also added, "there is a market and room for new people coming into the clothing business and T-shirt lines. It only makes it better. We as Jamaicans can stand up strong and have clothes coming out of Jamaica that other people can support."
When quizzed about the progress of his clothing line, he told THE STAR that economic challenges were a problem.
"It's steady right now. Due to the economic meltdown it is slow. The necessity right now is for food and then clothes after. There are a lot more sales to come," he said.