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Music biz more than just recording, performing - Artistes encouraged to develop entrepreneurial skills at 'Open University'

Published:Monday | February 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle/Gleaner Writer
Gussie Clarke
Jerome Hamilton of Headline Entertainment (left) and female entertainer Tifa at a previous staging of Reggae Sumfest.

Artistes are today being encouraged to develop their entrepreneurial skills as the music business is much more than just recording tracks and performing onstage.

A riveting discussion surrounding the music business and entrepreneurship took place at the Edna Manley School of the Performing Arts recently, as the first staging of the annual Reggae Open University got underway. Veteran music producer Gussie Clarke and Headline Entertainments' Jerome Hamilton were the evening's special guests, and with years of experience under their belts, both industry professionals had a wealth of knowledge to share with the small gathering on what it would take to achieve success in today's competitive music world.

Pointing out that the industry has changed over the years, Gussie Clarke highlighted the need for industry players to find new and innovative ways to capitalise financially.

"In terms of the whole game of music and production, the whole game has changed. It's not what it was and I doubt it ever will be again," he said. "There has to be different ways, of looking at monetising. We have to (as professionals) ask ourselves 'what are the avenues to make money'.

Having said that, Clarke encouraged individuals interested in the business of music, to pursue other parts of the industry if they aren't making progress as artistes.

"You have to be smart in this thing here. If an artiste comes up and he makes a record and nothing really happens and the next thing the artiste say is him ago make an EP and nothing nuh happen and next thing him say him ago make an LP. Now, I can't understand that logics; you can't make one good hit record, yet still you want to make a record with six or more songs. If you singing and it nah happen, check yourself and find out, 'will I probably be a better manager, will I be a better songwriter, musician. Don't focus on just the stage, focus on the entire game. A lot of people in this industry have great skills, but some do not focus it properly and at the end of the day, it doesn't help their career."

Thanking the organisers for putting together a discussion he deemed relevant, Hamilton continued where Clarke left off, pointing out that as an industry, Jamaica has not been able to capitalise on the benefits that can be had from music because key players lack the level of entrepreneurship required to obtain maximum results.

"We have not been able to reap the success of the business because unfortunately, we haven't been the best entrepreneurs for the business," he said, highlighting weaknesses he has seen in the local industry from a booking agent's perspective.

"As a representation of talent, I think one of the weaknesses we have in Jamaica is management. We have so many musicians, so many artistes, but I think we are struggling to find a lot of other things; musicians etc., and we are seeing the results of this. We have an industry where more than half of the top 50 artistes are managing themselves or are being managed by people who are not best suited as management representatives," he said, also pointing out that artistes lack vision and do not know how to develop their product.

"We have artistes that do not understand the importance of developing a market and developing a product. It is very good wanting to be an artiste and wanting to be successful, but the product as a whole is misunderstood a lot of times. As a booking agent, we want to work with artistes who understand the dynamics of the business and what it means to be professional."