Making money with rhythm

BY NEKIESHA REID Business reporter

Friday, October 05, 2012

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DESPITE the international appeal and recognition garnered by the Jamaican music industry, it is earning far less than it could, said ace guitarist Seretse Small.

This is because music is not being produced in the island with business or an international market in mind, he said.

To get more people focused on the global success that he said can only be achieved through an understanding of the business processes involved in the trade, Small has developed a series of
30-minute television shows.

Every Sunday afternoon as of next month, The Business of Music will explore different aspects of the field, including promoting on radio, management, publicity, and scoring a major record deal.

Although developed as an educational tool for those interested in the music industry, Small said the show would not be "preachy".

"The aim of the programme is to work toward the achievement of global success," he said, adding that the inclusion of a four-minute feature and performances to close the show would take away the "teachy" feel.

The global music industry is estimated to be worth US$130 billion, according to worldwide representative International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

And while the Jamaica Music Society reported a 41 per cent increase in Jamaica's earnings from music sales and royalties for last year, it declined to say exactly how much was earned.

However, investment and export promotion agency Jamaica Promotions (JAMPRO) reported on its website that Jamaica earned US$255 million through its music industry in 2004.

"We're not very good in Jamaica at documenting these things," Small said, adding that even with the income the industry brings in, "we're far below our potential".

Earlier this year, Small said music professionals should start figuring out ways of getting their product to market, starting with getting knowledge of the industry.

"A lot of the people out there who call themselves managers aren't really managers," he said." They don't really know how to negotiate on the international arena."

This is because "not enough people know enough about the industry they're in", JAMPRO's creative industries manager, Kim-Marie Spence, said.

"We were always performance-centred. Even before the technological developments of the past few years and the need to be aware of copyright infringement and Internet laws and so on, we never really paid much attention to the business side of things," she said.

In an effort to educate people, Spence said the government agency hosted workshops that "weren't very successful" primarily because of attendance.

However, a television series has the potential of being more successful than workshops, she said, which is why programmes like The Business of Music should be encouraged.

Turning the focus to aspects of the music industry such as distribution, publishing and management is important, Small said, especially since avenues have already been established for young artists to showcase their talent.

A professional guitarist for the past 30 years, Small recently retired from the stage to focus on teaching at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

In an attempt to exploit his wealth of knowledge, the college's Arts Management Department requested he put together a course, which started with a two-day introduction to music management workshop.

But Small said the idea for the TV series came to him years before he taught the subject in the classroom.

"I first pitched the idea to CPTC in the 1990s but for some reason it just never took off," he said.

After periodically testing the waters for collaboration, Small approached the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) last year, with the development of the show happening "fairly quickly" after that.

PBCJ's involvement in the series also worked to reduce the cost of production substantially.

"For the first season, costs could easily have run between $6 and $10 million," Small said, noting that pooled resources resulted in the main cost being time.

In addition to the government-owned station and Small's business, Griot Music, The Business of Music is sponsored by mobile restaurant Veggie Meals on Wheels and furniture distributor, Keith Ryan & Company.

However, the show isn't intended to be a revenue earner.

"PBCJ is a public entity and its programming is intended to provide free information for the country," Small said.

"There may be other things that come out of [the show], but right now we're waiting to see the response to
the programme."




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