Fri | Aug 12, 2022

Blasting music into the future

Published:Friday | February 21, 2020 | 12:00 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
ZJ Rush
Delly Ranks

The various mediums and platforms to which recording artistes have access for distributing, marketing and sharing their work are countless, since the music has shifted from a product-based business to a service-based one, says Andrew Powell, the proprietor of World Blast Music.

The climate is different in a sense where it is more resourceful to get your stuff out there on a wider scale, “that is, via social platforms like iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon, YouTube, Audiomack, and SoundCloud to name a few. Back then, in the ‘80s, ‘90s and early 2000s, there were not as many resources for that,” Powell told The Gleaner.

World Blast Music has been around since 2008 as part of Stampede Street Charts and Promotions inspired by ‘90s dancehall deejay Delly Ranx.

While many would deem that the email blast (e-blast, for short) service Powell’s company provides has become less relevant in an age where industry players have technology at their fingertips, Powell argues that there is a place for music-sharing services.

He said: “It is actually more relevant in these times. Though social media is the main platform for promoting music, sending the song via email blast to the persons responsible for getting the music out in the streets is more important than waiting for them to request the artiste’s song or download from other mediums. Remember, the disc jockeys are still the middle men. Despite having a million views, it takes a lot to get the music out there on the right level, not just to be a local act.”

Limited but worthwhile

The ‘blast master’ explained that Jamaica and other countries are still challenged with limited or total lack of access to all platforms, but email is reachable. He said the support is outstanding across the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean, and it is worthwhile.

“The songs are not distributed for sale, that contradicts the purpose of promotions and the results obtained – from working with clients in the industry, past and present: I Octane, Gyptian, Charly Black, Mavado, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, I Wayne, Khago, Vershon, Jahmiel, Jae Prynse, Nesbeth, Jah Snowcone and Salaam Remi, and that is to name of few who have utilised services provided by World Blast Music to their advantage – are most times helpful,” expressed Powell.

e-blast more valuable

Speaking at the Jamaica Live conference last month, John Pilatto, head of operations at Southwest Digital Distribution, said he thinks e-blast services have more value, depending on the database.

“An individual can offer the service and claim he has a large or wide database with any and every email, one may not be able to identify if the accounts are relevant or not, and there are persons in the US that will charge US$250 to share a one-way blast. What happens to the music? I don’t know; there is no determining their effectiveness,” Pilatto said.

“Transparency works for me, like most persons in the music industry, (so) if the cost of the service can match the results, that works. There are very few e-blast services that give feedback or can provide some sort of analytics – those double as a distribution service and marketing tools to help expose the artiste and their catalogue.”

I-Octane agreed that the e-blast service is database dependent. Therefore, an artiste may not know the numbers or the ‘who’ or ‘where’ is being reached but will know when the track or catalogue is heard in the public space or getting rotation.

“There is a lot to say about credibility ... artistes who have not created a name or do not have a strong audience may not get the attention of radio station or disc jockeys right away, but at least by using an e-blast service that has a credible name that same artiste will have a chance to be seen and heard. Up to this day, I still use it to promote my music because it is the go-to medium of getting information out there quick; we used to distribute CDs, the databases serve to familiarise a more vast market not just local with the artiste, and helps in creating large networks,” I-Octane said, going into details.

Meanwhile, radio disc jockey and producer ZJ Rush is opposed to e-blast services for many reasons.

ZJ Rush told The Gleaner: “To be honest I don’t open e-blasts at all. In our local music industry, there are many blasting entities that send too much garbage, and then there are those that get buy out. I prefer someone refer an artiste or their music for me to listen to.

“If there was a consistent service that was true to good music, then it would be easier for selectors to pick and choose the music, but when an e-blast company sends 250 blasts every hour, it is impossible to listen to that much music and we have to review the songs before adding [them] to any playlist. E-blasts are not preferred if artistes and even producers are thinking to go forward. Nothing beats building network from scratch, locally and working to make it grow globally.”