Reggae awaits next SUPERSTAR
AARON Talbert, VP Records' vice-president for Sales & Marketing, thinks the real problem for reggae music at the moment is its failure to produce a new superstar.
"What's happened to reggae is that we have not broken a new artiste since Sean Paul in 2002," Talbert said to the Jamaica Observer at last Friday's launch of former Prime Minister Edward Seaga's four-CD box set, Origins of Jamaican Music, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
Sean Paul sold millions of units with his Dutty Rock and The Trinity albums, which were jointly distributed by VP and Atlantic Records.
Dancehall has not had a major figure since The Trinity hit six years ago.
"The problem is not really the market or the love for the music waning. I don't think we have lost the fans of the genre. What's happened is with technology. The medium for communicating the songs, or if there is an album, or this new person coming up is much more fragmented, and doesn't only affect reggae, it's a problem for all genres," Talbert said.
An American, who has been with VP for the past 13 years, Talbert believes creativity is the key to getting music to an increasingly diverse market.
"It takes much more now to make the whole fan base know what's going on. Even for that audience that is committed to the music and the culture, there's a lack of a channel to reach all those people at the same time," he said. "We need to do things with the web, and we will do things with Internet blasts or e-mail and so forth to try to market to people directly. What the CD was, what the album was to people just generally in terms of entertainment 10 years ago, it's just not there anymore," he went on.
Talbert said VP is not concerned about the shifting reggae scene, and the argument that places like California, Hawaii and New Zealand are producing new reggae hits as well as new acts.
He said although a lot of the foreign acts have surpassed Jamaicans in terms of sales and their ability to draw audiences, their advantage is being based primarily in North America, which is still the largest media and music market.
"There is a disadvantage if you don't live there, and for the artiste based in California, it is like the Jamaican artiste touring the island. So for us, the touring market with Jamaican artistes is particularly challenging, and that's one of the areas we're working on that is going to help drive demand," he explained. "It's going to help us create new business, and it's going to help break new acts in the new year."