Tue | Dec 5, 2023

Is reggae music being replaced?

Published:Saturday | September 30, 2023 | 12:06 AM


There is a recent report out of Europe highlighting the demise of reggae music. The report claims that the reggae festivals have seen a 50 per cent decrease in attendance alongside a disproportionate rise in artistes’ fees – two variables that guarantee disaster.

The falloff in the music’s popularity since COVID-19 brings to mind a quote in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, in which Brutus said to Cassius, “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune”. The flood in this instance may have been the COVID-19 pandemic that apparently altered the music’s needs and demands without the artistes picking up on this change.

For example, reggae music seems to have evolved out of struggles, oppression and injustice – like a root that breaks from the hard ‘downpressive’ pavements to become a plant. Hard times and tribulations can evolve into new musical tastes and trajectories, and it’s likely that that’s what shifted the market demand from reggae to other genres.

Changing times and circumstances alter demand, for humans are not static. COVID-19 has certainly changed people’s preferences and, as a consequence, musical tastes. This is perhaps why reggae music has ceded ground to sounds like Afrobeat, trap and urban, as this Jamaican creation seems to dim its brilliance. We do not normally sing songs of rejoicing while in captivity, or eat oxtail and rice for breakfast. Mood determines sounds and dictates the taste of the music market.


New York