Entertainment

J'can music sales plummet in US

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

Sunday, December 16, 2012    

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AS far as sales go, 2012 is a year players in dancehall/reggae will want to forget in a hurry.

Figures from the American sales tracking company, SoundScan, show dismal returns from some of the big names in Jamaican music.

While singjay Popcaan had a minor hit in the United States with Only Man, no album by an artiste out of Jamaica had any impact in the US. In fact, according to SoundScan statistics, as of December 9, Sean Paul's Tomahawk Technique sold a paltry 3,979 copies. The album was released in the US in September by VP/Atlantic Records. It fared better in the much smaller European market.

Reggae Music Again by Busy Signal showed sales of 4,548 while Konshens' Mental Maintenance has sold 1,263 copies. Romain Virgo, another of the much-touted young reggae acts, also did badly. His The System has sold 1,490 copies.

It was also a rough ride for Sweet Jamaica by Mr Vegas which had 1,963 copies sold. One Love, One Life, the recently released double compact disc from Beres Hammond, has moved 2,198 copies to date.

Jimmy Cliff's critically acclaimed Rebirth has done better, with sales of 33,843.

Rebirth and Tomahawk Technique have been nominated for Best Reggae Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards.

Out of Many: 50 Years of Jamaican Music, a four-CD set compiled by former Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga and released by VP Records, has sold 2,380 copies since its release in October.

Interestingly, American reggae artistes did better than their Jamaican counterparts.

Peace of Mind by California band Rebelution sold 52,488 copies heading into Christmas. Jewish rapper Matisyahu continues to fall from his platinum perch as his Spark Seeker showed a modest 49,527 in sales.

Like Rebelution, SOJA out of Virginia has built a growing fan base in the US through tireless touring. Their Strength to Survive has sales of 38,427.

The pathetic numbers are not unique to Jamaica. Music industry insiders say downloading songs from the Internet is one of the factors contributing to a remarkable slump in worldwide record sales in the last five years.

Before the Internet boom and emergence of digital releases, many artistes sold millions of CDs in the first week of their release.

Jamaican artistes like Sean Paul, Shaggy and Damian Marley figured in that rush with multi-platinum albums. Others like Shabba Ranks, Cobra and Diana King sold gold (500,000) in the 1990s.

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