Brand exposure necessary
AMERICAN music industry veteran Neil Robertson says piracy and lack of sales are not the biggest problems facing reggae music. He believes artistes need to do more to expose their brand.
"The first goal shouldn't be how an artiste can sell their music. The first goal is getting attention for your brand. Piracy or low sales are not the major problems. Obscurity is," Robertson told the Sunday Observer.
Robertson, who has Jamaican parentage, books acts for live events for VP Records. He says once artistes adapt to changing trends in the marketplace, they can sell more music.
"The youth are growing up in a time where they have access to any music they want, any time they want it. The idea of ownership of music isn't that important when you can open Spotify or YouTube/Vevo and listen to what you want on demand," he explained. "It's just the reality of the music business."
Robertson is qualified to talk about music industry trends. He started out 20 years ago working at an independent hip-hop label called StepSun, which was run by Bill Stephany, who later became president at Def Jam Records. He later did a stint at Island Jamaica Records, where he worked on albums including Beenie Man's Blessed and Luciano's Where There is Life.
"I was also involved with the launch of Sizzla's career since he was a part of the Xterminator crew and toured with Luciano. We had a lot of fun in those days," Robertson recalled.
"The reggae/dancehall scene was closer to the hip hop scene than it is now. All the major hip-hop producers and acts in the New York area knew what was up
when it came to the big songs out of Jamaica."
Reflecting on dancehall/reggae's performance in 2013, he says that interest is no longer there, though naming American producers Major Lazer and Busy Signal's collaboration Bumaye (Watch out Fi Dis) as the year's number one dancehall song.
Here are Neil Robertson's top 10 dancehall songs for 2013:
(1) Watch Out For This — Major Lazer featuring Busy Signal
(2) Riot — Sean Paul featuring Damian Marley
(3) Give Thanks — Alborosie featuring The Abyssinians
(4) Modern Day Judas — Jesse Royal
(5) Fighter — Cham featuring Damian Marley
(6) Body Calling — NYLA
(7) Beat & A Mic — Chronixx
(8) Ganja Tea — Keida
(9) Na Na Na — Christopher Martin
(10) Kotch — RDX