AN executive at VP Records believes Americans are tuning out from dancehall/reggae because Jamaican artistes no longer tour.
Neil Robertson, who is in charge of touring at the Queens, New York label, says lack of road activity has hurt the contemporary reggae act.
“The artistes aren’t touring the mainstream music venues in the United States. Without touring, the artistes can’t develop awareness of their brand,” Robertson told the Sunday Observer. “What most top Jamaican acts do isn’t touring. They are working weekend to weekend on ‘one offs’.”
Robertson is urging Jamaican acts to focus “on the bigger picture."
“Instead of the primary factor always being how much money is a show going to pay, artistes need to think about how their brand is being marketed,” he said. “I don’t hear anyone talking about developing brands, I hear a lot of talk about promotions but what are the artistes doing to promote themselves? It’s more than just going on Facebook and Twitter,” Robertson added.
Touring was a big thing for reggae acts in the 1970s. It helped introduce the music of Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear, and Peter Tosh to audiences in Europe and the US.
Today, mainly roots-reggae acts tour Europe and college areas on the US west coast and in the Midwest.
Robertson thinks the new wave of Jamaican artistes can take lessons from their predecessors in a critical area.
“Better songs are critical, songwriting has never been worse in the 20 years that I have been in this business,” he said. “In the ‘90s great acts emerged consistently... Shabba, (Super) Cat, Cobra, Patra, Beenie Man, Bounty (Killer), Sizzla, Sean Paul, Vegas, Luciano, and Spragga. These artistes had style, image and most importantly great songs that fuelled the movement.”