November 13, 2009
ARE WE ON THE DOWNLOW?
A paradoxical thing in Jamaica is that we are so full of talk of badmanism yet when people come around to abuse us; we mumble, forget it after 7 days and move along. A strange state of affairs given our mouths almighty.
Since the advent of internet access at high speeds and file sharing sites; it seems as though dancehall and reggae record sales have met with doom and gloom. Just look at the measly sales of some of our so called big stars. No names necessary here. You know them.
Just recently, I scanned a few sites and file sharing is a big deal. As riddims are sent out promotionally to deejays, in a few minutes they are up on sites available for download by anyone besides persons in the industry and for sale by persons who do not even have a licensing agreement with the creator of the music: neither the writer nor music composer. As much as we feel that Japan and Europe are the last bastions of real aficionados of our music, they are also the hot spots for illegal downloads and sales. Check the internet if you fail to believe.
When the internet and file sharing gained prominence a number of persons locally were cynical and then they came around thinking it would further the music. Yes, but for who though? Certainly not the musical composers.
Alot of persons are not intimate with the process of music making and a lot of persons don’t care. All they get is the finished product and maybe go to a party and hear a good joint, hear it blasting on the radio or get a hot mix tape and bop to it. That it is illegal, they generally don’t care.
Ok so file sharing and illegal downloading might get the music out and make it popular; and might ought to be underscored here. A direct negative result of this is that our artistes have resorted to hustling out the business: overcharging on dub plates, overcharging for shows, collecting and not showing up, charging major dollars to voice a tune; only a few innovative ones like ‘DI TEACHA’ have gone into merchandising and product branding, VYBZ Rum anyone.
We really need to find some resolution to the loss of sales because when dubs are voiced hardly does an artiste return to a producer (who might also be the composer) and give him/her a portion of the dub plate money. Hardly is there an artiste who blows up big time and gets some shows who will return to music composer to say “see ah food ya”; so we really need a way to stem this bleeding of sales by inappropriate persons and the illegal distribution by unscrupulous persons.
We know how to crack any code to anything, certainly we can figure out a way to make it hard to get our music for free. One thing that some producers will do is send out a song ripped below cd quality or turn up some of the instruments such that there is some degree of distortion, but that does not reflect well on a producer. Encoding cds doesn’t even really help except for air play detection overseas. Perhaps a brilliant Jamaican can develop the technology such that if you download a song or songs without paying for it, your computer crashes, your ip address is identified and if previous credit or debit card information of the user has been used on that same computer then deductions are made from them. How long are we going to bled of our creativity? Why do we stay on the downlow while they download?