Tue | Jan 25, 2022

Image is important - Industry insiders remind artistes that representation can ‘make or break’ them

Published:Sunday | October 27, 2019 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle - Staff Reporter
Beenie Man
Bounty Killer

Image is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as the way that something or someone is thought of by other people. In The Gleaner’s most recent staging of its Entertainment Forum, industry insiders discussed imaging as they pointed out that it may be the single most important component of an artiste’s career. According to them, how entertainers present themselves to the public has the power to make or break their careers.

Freddie McGregor, ‘Captain of the Big Ship’, told The Sunday Gleaner that dancehall artistes, in particular, already have it hard to break away from the stigma that is attached to the genre. Pointing out that over the years, the genre has developed a reputation for being ‘bad’, McGregor said that artistes have to learn how to position themselves in such a way that they dodge most of the negativity surrounding dancehall. “Profiling is profiling, enuh; as a dancehall, artiste yuh can’t get away from that. People either see you as a good artiste or they don’t. It is up to you to fix that, and you do so by putting out a positive image,” he said. “It’s not just about your music. Your career is also built on how you present yourselves.”

Get the message

Lauding The Gleaner for its forum initiative, McGregor said that for artistes to get the message of how important their image is, education is important. “The industry, on a whole, needs something like this forum, but on a bigger level. There needs to be a discussion where people from all parts of the industry can come – producers, artistes, managers, everyone – and ask questions so we can answer and talk some things, even about stage etiquette and how unnu fi behave inna the hotel. We have a whole heap a things weh set we back, enuh, and we affi find ways to start moving forward.”

Delano Thomas, owner of Renaissance sound system, agreeing with McGregor, said that a void of good managers in the entertainment sphere was contributing immensely to the improper imaging/branding of many entertainers. “What entertainers need is management, not ‘damagement’. We don’t really have managers in Jamaica because most booking agents call themselves managers, or most managers are friends and family. A manager is supposed to help you to work with the streets and still carry yuhself a certain way that you can walk into a corporate office or an embassy and be respected on both sides and not just in one way,” he said.

Thomas went on to state that in order for artistes to learn how important image is, they have to work outside of Jamaica. He believes that travelling and experiencing how other music industries around the world operate can open the eyes of many. But, according to him, that may prove a difficult task for local entertainers because a large number of them cannot travel. “Bounty Killer, Capleton, and Beenie Man were once young and they travelled the world and realised dem affi do things a certain way – sing certain songs and present themselves a certain way to keep relevant and tour – but a lot of these artistes can’t even travel, and so dem can’t get that experience,” he said. “If you look at how much Bounty has grown over the years, for example, you will see what I’m talking about, and much of his development was because he was able to gain different experiences.”