Sponsors needed for sound system festival’s growth
Jamaica Sound Fest 2017 will take place at Grizzly's Plantation Cove, Priory, St Ann, on August 12, rain or shine, sponsors or no sponsors. However, its subsequent development depends heavily not on the weather but the sponsorship climate.
Yaniq Walford of "the big bad Bass Odyssey from Alexandria", as a famed Buju Banton dubplate for the sound system puts it, said the full cost of this year's staging is approximately $9 million to $10 million. In addition to Bass Odyssey, sounds such as Stone Love, Fire Links, King Addies (from New York, USA), Coppershot and Amar (from Israel) will play.
When she spoke with The Gleaner yesterday, the confirmed sponsorship was zero, and a somewhat cynical GoFundMe started as much to highlight the high fees to the Government and music royalties collection agencies as well as collect money towards paying them was at US$40.
Still, she said there have been talks with FLOW, the telecommunications firm having "always been on board" with the rebranded Bass Odyssey anniversary event. And there should be some dialogue with Red Stripe, which was a title sponsor of the event for about three years. That ended after 2015, the year when the crowd was upset after Japanese sound system Barrier Free was interrupted as they delivered anti-homosexual content.
"I do not know how much it contributed to that," Walford said of the connection to Red Stripe's reduced involvement, the company having its drinks available last year though not its name incorporated into the event's t.
The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) was also on board in 2015, Walford saying that she has initiated dialogue with the government body for the 2017 staging, but has not yet received a response.
The organisers will put their money where their recordings and equipment are, footing the sound system festival's bill as required after the hoped-for sponsorship is secured, as they did to a large extent in 2016. However, while self-funding can maintain the event at one level, Walford emphasised that significant sponsorship is required to get it to the standard of other sound system festivals internationally.
"It is at a point where it needs sponsors ... . We have an advantage on sound systems. This is where the sound systems were made," Walford said.