Sound advice
McKenzie warns entertainers: 'Fail to learn business side of music at your own peril'
A group performing on stage.

JAMAICAN music scholar Clyde McKenzie is encouraging artistes to take responsibility for their own education in the entertainment business, arguing that those who fail to do so must be reminded of the dire consequences that are likely to affect their livelihoods and families.

"I think we need to remind artistes of the consequences of not paying attention to the business aspect of their careers — point to examples of people who ignore sound advice at their peril. That is a more powerful means of getting through to individuals as opposed to exposing them more often to success stories," McKenzie said in a recent interview ahead of the Island Music Conference (IMC) scheduled for next month in Kingston.

According to McKenzie, knowledge of the business side of entertainment is also important for artistes to develop healthier relationships with their teams in the long term.

"Artistes don't need to be experts on these things per se, but they need to be aware of what's happening — otherwise, they can be more easily duped by their handlers," he said.

"There is also the case of artistes not understanding the value of the contribution of those around them. Once you have knowledge and appreciation of the business, you understand the work and contribution of the people around you," he explained.

The conference is the brainchild of Jamaican Grammy-winning artiste Shaggy, whose real name is Orville Burrell, as well as music industry stalwarts Judith Bodley and Sharon Burke.

The event, set for February 8 to 12 at The Courtleigh Auditorium, Jamaica Pegasus hotel, and The Courtleigh Hotel and Suites in New Kingston will place global music executives — who can be difficult to contact, let alone meet in person — within reach of aspiring entertainers who are eager to make strides in the industry.

Among confirmed speakers are renowned attorneys Lloyd Stanbury, Andrew Krents, and Sapna Lal.

YouTube's Director of Black Music and Culture Tuma Basa; Tanya Lawson from Audiomack; Madeline Nelson from Amazon; Diego Herrera, Pandora; Loretta Gadson of BMI; Damien Granderson and Steven Carless from Warner; and SeaniB from BBC1Xtra are among some of the industry experts who will be in attendance.

"Sometimes the people who need it most are absent from these events. It's a shame, because it is important that they understand how to position and market themselves as a brand; how to get involved with platforms like Spotify; how to get on American radio. You won't have access to all these executives in one place on a regular basis," said McKenzie.

Organisers say there will be a full YouTube day and keynote speakers for the week are IMC Chairman Dr Orville "Shaggy" Burrell, Bentley Kyle Evans and IHeart Radio's Tom Poleman.

Among the international press scheduled to cover IMC are Billboard, Vibe, and Rolling Stone.

The conference, being held under the theme 'Cari Culture', will explore topics such as social media marketing, the pros and cons of owning masters, and copyright and publishing.

An all-day market featuring natural products and the work of artisans will be set up at the Jamaica Pegasus and will be open to the public.

People interested in learning more and/or registering for the event may do so on the official website https://islandmusicconference.com/

Clyde McKenzie

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