Global Reggae Conference – Call

GLOBAL REGGAE CONFERENCE

“DANCEHALL, MUSIC AND THE CITY”

FEBRUARY 9 – 11, 2017

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 Call for Papers

The Institute of Caribbean Studies and the Reggae Studies Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus announce the fifth bi-ennial Global Reggae Conference  under the theme “Dancehall, Music and the City”. This conference is being staged at a time when we celebrate Bob Marley’s birth and the very foundation, the space – dancehall – through which the world has consumed seven distinct musical genres in mento, ska, rocksteady, reggae, nyabinghi, dub and dancehall. This conference also comes at a time when Kingston celebrates its designation as a creative city for music by UNESCO in December 2015. 

The conference intends to open discussions about contemporary considerations for Jamaican music spaces, genres, cross-fertilization, production and economy using Kingston as a backdrop for discussing the foundational space of the dancehall as a main theme.  

The conference will also honour the work of Professor Carolyn Cooper, CD, founder of the Global Reggae Conference, Bob Marley Lecture Series and the Reggae Studies Unit. Her contributions to the field of cultural studies have paved the way for researchers and practitioners, often bridging the gap in research and practice for Jamaican popular music genres, reggae, and especially dancehall. 

Slated for Reggae Month 2017, the conference will provide a platform for timely updates on discussions, research and development in reggae and dancehall locally, regionally and internationally. GRC2017 offers academics, researchers, artistes, musicians, scholars, cultural practitioners, entrepreneurs and music lovers from around the world a warm and welcoming environment to share their research, experiences, perspectives and passion for Jamaican music. 

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Conference themes include but are not limited to the following:

·         Researching the Dancehall: Lessons from Carolyn Cooper

·         Kingston: Creative Music City

·         Dancehall as Space and Place

·         Dancehall: From Then Till Now

·         Sound Systems, Sonic Innovations and Performance

·         Popular Jamaican Music and Economic Development

·         Creativity and Economy: Appropriation or Cross-Fertilization?

·         Dancehall, Social Media and Jamaica’s Influence

·         Dancehall, Sound Regulation and Entertainment Zoning

·         Dancehall Culture, Violence and Governance

·         Dancehall Music, Rites, Rituals and Celebratory Practices

·         Movement and Dance in Dancehall

·         Dancehall: The People’s Church?

·         Dancehall, Sexuality and the City

 Abstract Submission and Presentation Guidelines

Abstracts should not exceed 250 words for individual presentations. For pre-organised panels, include one abstract for each presenter. Each abstract should include the following information: name of author/authors; email address/es; name of associated institution; and keywords of presentation.

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We welcome innovative uses of technology and creative session formats as well as traditional paper presentations.

DEADLINE FOR ALL SUBMISSIONS IS NOVEMBER 15, 2016.

NOTIFICATION OF ACCEPTANCE WILL BE MADE BY NOVEMBER 30, 2016.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION OF FULL PAPERS IS JANUARY 1, 2017.

All participants will have to register by January 1, 2017 in order to have their papers included in the final programme.

Contact the Global Reggae Conference 2017 Secretariat with queries at:

Institute of Caribbean Studies 

Email: globalreggaeconference@gmail.com 

Tel: 1 (876) 977 – 1951 |  970 – 6228

‘Putting Music First’: Etching Jamaica’s Road Map to a Viable Industry

By Sonjah Stanley Niaah, Ph.D.

Steppin Razor Book Cover

Did you know that Jamaica is the only country to have given the world eight distinct genres of music in the latter half of the C20th? I move around my home country asking this question in a variety of fora and many still don’t know. ‪Did you also know that there is no genre of music since the 1960s which has not been influenced by Jamaican music? ‬It is awareness of the enormous wealth of Jamaica’s musical contribution through mento, ska, rocksteady, reggae, dub, nyabinghi, dancehall and EDM, buttressed by aesthetics and technological innovations of the sound system (Jamaica’s national instrument), which has sustained my intent to educate people about this musical legacy. Regrettably, the investment in the preservation and development of this musical wealth is in direct opposition to the way in which Jamaica has stamped its creative work in music on a global scale. There are serious challenges therefore, and Jamaica cannot truly say it has creative industries. Rather, it has creative sectors which have at various points competed on an international scale. These include film, fashion and music. But there is much more to be done. 

In March 2014, I had the opportunity to speak to industry insiders at a University of the West Indies (UWI) shaped initiative under the theme – State of the Music. The inaugural symposium was organised and well attended by music sector professionals. It was conceptualized based on a number of conversations over the past three years with Jamaican music business insiders about development of a music industry based on an urgent need to address negative factors including emerging music and artistes, lack of standards, lack of an effective governance structure and current research. The time has come for Jamaica to put music, its most impacting and largest export, first. The need for key players to be involved in the process of charting a course and building a vision for this sector was therefore seen as crucial. The rationale for staging the symposium, and the proposal for a ‘Way Forward’ based on presentations and discussion over two days, are thus documented below.

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Additionally, the State of the Music symposium was conceptualized as a means by which to identify and document the current status while highlighting clearly the markets, players and partners to grow the music industry. As an annual two-day event to close the Reggae Month calendar for reflection, visioning and forecasting, the State of the Music Symposium is intent on bringing private and public sector to the same table, ultimately toward capacity building and transformation of the business using the workshop model. The organizers acknowledge that growth has to take place based on solid local efforts with a focus on generation of research, dissemination of information, education, and partnership, without stifling creativity, and while nurturing income generation. UROY

While the Caribbean Export Development Agency, International Labour Organization, Inter-American Development Bank, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, United Nations Development Programme and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, among others have funded projects for advancement of either the Jamaican or Caribbean music industries, there is much more funding and work that is needed. One immediate goal is the update of research done by Witter (2002) and Nurse et al (2006)[1]. More importantly some of the lessons learned from past initiatives include the fact that there has been inadequate follow up on many projects which has led to frustration and fatique among stakeholders; lack of a coordinated and sustained approach taking intersectoral linkages to sectors such as tourism and education into account is lacking and compromises the success of vital initiatives; as well as the legal and policy frameworks lag behind real developments in the business of music thus reducing the capacity for developing an enabling environment.

Among other things, the dialogue over the course of the State of the Music Symposium revealed that a holistic approach is vital. Comments on best practices from other sectors have lead to inquiry about whether initiatives within the sporting industry can offer building blocks or solutions for music business development. For example, what’s stopping Jamaica from having ‘music championships’ that draw on primary and secondary school talent? Could a combination of the early talent shows such as Vere John’s Opportunity Hour, Jamaica Festival Competition, Teenage Dance Party, Rising Stars and the Tastee Talent Show give Jamaica a viable model for implementation of music appreciation / participation as a key component of the education system? Could music become a catalyst for social transformation, purging a crime-ridden society of the ‘gun over girls’ mentality? Can Jamaica replace guns with musical instruments in the minds of Jamaica’s youth? One of the strong sentiments from the Symposium was the need for censorship the content produced important especially for youth. Why don’t we have a music industry for the youth in Jamaica? Could artists be seen as mentors for youth instead of a bad influence?

We identified in that Symposium key components of a way forward:

1. The Jamaican Music Economy (Old/New Creative Economy Initiatives)

Need for Research – On what basis do we put Music first?

  • Demonstrating the importance of putting music first requires research and the use of existing research to generate new research. Studies such as that of Witter (2004) and Nurse et al (2006) need to be updated as a matter of urgency.

The variables to add to the value of Research

  • Sales
  • Festivals and Events
  • Market Share for and of Jamaican Music
  • Geographical Distribution and Spread
  • Corporate Investment
  • Viability of the product as it relates to heritage, economic value, social value

The Role of the Interpreter

  • Bridging the Gap between the Creative Worker and the Policy Maker
  • Distinguishing between the viability and the crucial indicators
  • Identification of the differences and the gaps

Collate existing documentation from, among others

  • Vanus James
  • Sonjah Stanley Niaah
  • Donna Hope
  • Dennis Howard
  • Carolyn Cooper
  • Keith Nurse
  • Michael Witter
  • JIPO / WIPO

2. The State of Music Education

Development of a music business in Jamaica needs to be buttressed by solid music education. While the music business is much more than playing music, there is need for support in the form of dedicated music teachers at the primary and secondary levels, as well as the focus on music being used to mobilize community arts centres throughout Jamaica, alongside in-service training for music students.

Methodology

  • Use of Jamaican Music Forms to teach
  • Activating systems of apprenticeship
  • Additional research into Musicology
    1. Defining periods
    2. Defining genres
  • Curriculum Development generally and around audio engineering and sound technology specifically.
  • Greater music integration into school curricula mandatory in early education
  • Innovation
  1. Professional Recording Facilities, Home-Studio Technology and Music Production –

The Studio as a living space

  • Studios are living spaces, each having their characteristic ‘sound’. Among factors such as audibility and decipherability, a major challenge has been sound engineering which has impacted the quality (among others) of music productions. There’s a space for, and continued relevance of, traditional recording studios. There is a difference in tools used across studios.
  • There is space for both professional and home studios, and with recording now democratized, processes of apprenticeship have been somewhat removed while appreciation and experience have been severely compromised.
  • It is believed that the instances of artistes sending sub-standard products, including demos, which are not properly recorded or mastered, will be reduced, and ultimately record sales would be impacted if the role of studios, apprenticeship as a fundamental training mechanism and quality sound engineering are understood and / or achieved.

Representation for Studios

  • As a music business, studios have no associations and are not strongly represented in any degree, in the current music associations including JAVAA, JACAP, JARIA and JFM which all need a stronger voice to be effective.

The Multi-format Person

  • The multiformat person is now most suited for music as a zone of work. The value chain for activating a song is vast, hence the need to fully understand the creative process around social authorship, primacy of the instrumental riddim or beat, pursuit of the hit, and a ‘singles’ oriented market.

3. The State of Legislation: Media and Music

Who is responsible?

  • Everyone is responsible for ensuring that the content of music produced is disseminated via appropriate channels and the vulnerable are protected.

The Effect of Payola

  • Payola is of great concern, a matter on which artistes are divided, but ‘pay to play’ is generally not seen as right. Payola affects the industry in many ways including in the making of hits. Based on billboard data Jamaican music is selling in large quantity from mature, overseas and deceased musical acts from Jamaica and not young or emerging acts. Radio station standards are also compromised by pay for play. Fines beginning at JA$5 million have been proposed by the Broadcasting Commission, Jamaica (BCJ), reflecting the seriousness with which they think this phenomenon should be treated.

Legislative reform / other recommendations

  • The preparation of playlists to be made available for collection by the regulator, and rights collection agencies.
  • Management of all music played on air being facilitated through a music library from which music is properly assessed and approved for broadcast.
  • A mechanism for establishing charts should be available for inspection.
  • A quota system for local music to preserve music and reverse outflow of royalty payments.

Does criminalizing payola really help?

  • There is a view that ‘pay for play’ without disclosure is the real problem and that criminalization of payola will not solve the problem. There is need for sensitization about the role of radio as it is not for selling songs made by artistes but rather advertising as a major revenue stream.

4. The Business of Music Events, Festivals and Promotion

Concept, Budget, Team

  • Festivals are expensive ventures which need facilitation from government in respect of venues and funding. Sponsorship is an area that has become increasingly challenging in a context where no good festival, costs anything less than $20 million.
  • Promotion of live events has to be seen as driving force in the music business and Kingston has taken a leading role with Kingston Music Week and other initiatives around locations such as Wickie Wackie, Countryside and Puls8. As a means to drive employment, live music needs to be seen as central generating its own calendar and culture for renewal in the music business.
  • There is need to focus on live music as part of music tourism and heritage tourism.
  • Corporate sponsorship is crucial, as much as roles of event managers, and promoters, in maintaining integrity of event and sponsor brands.

5. Artiste Management and Music Business Personnel Development

  • The artiste is not an individual but a corporation. Personnel and product development are therefore important, as well as managing the artiste as product for consumption, which needs to be packaged.
  • The business of artiste management is about understanding the artiste as selling not only a product but a way of life, a brand, and therefore a need to manage and develop personnel holistically.
  • Understanding ‘who consumes reggae and how do they consume?’ becomes an important part of the equation in the product development.
  • Management team cannot be haphazardly chosen, it is a hub with various dimensions including the business manager, artiste manager, booking agent, tour manager, lawyer, publicist, accountant etc. The manager is leading a team.
  • Some artistes have made themselves unmanageable and this is also an area of concern. There is need for training and development in the area of artiste management.

6. Operations and Associations: How to make them more efficient and effective?

Organizations need revitalization to gain a strong voice

  • Organizations such as JAAMS, JACAP, JFM, JARIA, JAVAA, JIPO, and RIAJAM now defunct all implicate music. JARIA for example arose as a call from industry insiders to deal overall with industry matters.
  • Public education is necessary in terms of relevance of organizations as people are ignorant of the laws which exist, either to protect them or for sanctions in relation to the music business.
  • It was strongly felt that the time has come for us to stop discriminating against the five indigenous music forms we have created at international standard and which are internationally accepted. When compared with Europe which has only produced the waltz some 100 years ago.

7. The State of Music, Film and Publishing

  • There is little protection for people in film. Understanding Issues around rights and legal ramifications are crucial in order to move forward. For example, there is need to resolve the issue of rights where filmmakers get nothing from play of music videos in perpetuity.
  • The fact that Jamaica doesn’t have a film school challenges the capacity of the country to produce highly skilled filmmakers.
  • Paucity of local content, especially entertainment at the turn of the millennium led to the emergence of entities such as Hype TV when Television Jamaica’s ER was the only solid 30mins of entertainment journalism on local television.
  • Online platforms are open for exploitation and organizations such as Jamaicansmusic.com engaged in digital distribution of the music experience give people the service and train people to do this themselves. They are also launching a new app as well as games through which artistes and their products can be distributed via such platforms.
  • Music memoirs are selling very well but there is a disparity because there are 100,000s produced internationally versus 3000 for Jamaican bestsellers. It is important that we begin to tell our stories especially as many of the pioneers have / are transitioning.
  • Artists are brands who don’t have books as products and this is an area to be exploited.

8. Creation of a template for structure – Hybrid Template

  • An organic structure currently exists but needs infusion of a relevant structure;
    • One which identifies ways and means to get into an arena that isn’t traditionally ours, but will allow us to shine;
    • One which develops ways and means to do what it takes to be functional in an international context;
  • Creation of standards at all levels –
    • Production
    • Writing
    • Sound
    • Marketing
    • Promotion
    • Publishing

Some clear programmes which are to be initiated –

  • Professional and Extended courses on
  • Sound Engineering
  • Music Production
  • Music Business
  • Digital Production
  • Packaging and Marketing the Music Product

There are some additional topics to be explored to solidify some of the work already done –

  • Corporate Support of Jamaican Music
  • Venue Assessment and Needs
  • Changing Business Models
  • Role of Radio
  • Payola and the streamlining of broadcasting legislation
  • Roll of other media forms
  • Media Regulation and Broadcasting
  • Role of the recording Studio

What should emerge from this for continuity?

  • Immediate update of the studies done on Jamaican music by Nurse et al (2006) and Witter (2002)
  • Professional Training / Workshop Series on writing / singing / performing / sound technology / digital distribution and promotion, artiste development among other areas to move to at least three other locations islandwide
  • Talk Series – telling the Jamaican stories
  • Legacy of Jamaica’s Music
  • State of the Music Book Series
  • Support for establishment of an artiste registry / artist guild and certification of artistes
  • Support the work of the Jamaican Music Museum and its drive to establish a formidable Jamaican music collection / archive

Target Audience

  • Performers
  • Entertainers
  • Technical Personnel
  • Promoters
  • Producers
  • Marketers
  • Attorneys
  • Agents
  • Programme managers
  • Radio disc jocks

The way forward has to be engineered through partnerships including JAMPRO, the UWI, JARIA and the Government of Jamaica more broadly. The implementation phase will see the development of a State of the Music Talk Series as well as intervention regarding music education and capacity building within studio spaces and formal programmes developed by partner organizations.

References / Additional Reading

[1] See Witter, Michael (2004). ‘Music and Jamaican Economy’, http://www.wipo.int/export/sites/www/about-ip/en/studies/pdf/study_m_witter.pdf, and Nurse, Keith et al (2006). ‘The Music Industry’, in ‘The Cultural Industries in CARICOM: Trade and Development Challenges’, http://www.acpcultures.eu/_upload/ocr_document/CRNM_Cult%20Ind%20in%20CARICOM_2007.pdf pp. 28-52.

Reggae Pioneer Miss Pat Chin of VP Records Celebrates 35 Years in the U.S.

As the annual State of the Music Symposium (SOMS) draws near I feel compelled to republish this highly informative article on VP Records principal, Miss Pat Chin. It is one of the best articles I have seen and thought readers who missed its publication in Billboard would appreciate it. VP records will be represented at the SOMSII by Randy Chin and Richard Lue who will be talking about music sales and, music and film respectively. Now in its 2nd year, the SOMSII will see topics such as artiste management, music education and artiste welfare being tackled by stalwarts in the business. Stay tuned for more on the Symposium. For now read about Miss Pat Chin….

When Patricia Chin, cofounder of Queens, N.Y.-based reggae indie VP Records, ponders the changes in the music industry since she started out six decades ago, she exudes a spirited resiliency that is inextricably linked to VP’s survival for nearly 60 years in a competitive marketplace.

“We are still selling music, but we are just doing it in different ways now,” says Chin, 77, affectionately called Miss Pat, as she surveys VP’s cavernous 10,000 square foot warehouse in Jamaica, Queens, once stocked floor to ceiling with vinyl and CDs, now housing a fraction of that inventory. “I am fascinated to have seen music sold as 78s, 45s, then 8-track tapes and cassettes, CDs and now digital — we don’t have to manufacture anything to have our music reach around the world.”

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A petite, effervescent woman of Chinese and Indian ancestry, Miss Pat along with her late husbandVincent “Randy” Chin, set the foundation for their US based company in Kingston, Jamaica in the late 1950s. Fleeing the island’s escalating political violence of the l970s, Vincent and Pat migrated to New York, establishing their U.S. reggae distributorship in Queens in 1979, designated by the initials of their first names, VP Records.

“Vincent’s brother had opened Chin Randy’s Records in Brooklyn so he went to Queens which was fortuitous because the borough was then home to several music distributors and he was in that overall mix,” notes Aaron Talbert, VP Records’ vp of sales and marketing. Eventually VP took over the space belonging to Raymar’s Memory Lane Distribution and retained their longstanding employee, Rhoda Bernstein, who helped the Chins learn the rigors of the US music industry, as they sold to reggae shops in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

Thirty-five years later, the VP Records empire, run by Vincent and Pat’s sonsChristopher (CEO) and Randy (president) Chin, encompasses the flagship record label (established in 1993, named Billboard’s Best Independent Record Label in 2002, 2003) subsidiary imprints Dub Rockers and 17 North Parade; a digital distribution arm VPAL (VP and Associated Labels, available to independent artists), the Riddim Driven merchandise/clothing line, a touring/live events division, an online record store, and an online radio station (Randy’s Radio), which broadcasts from VP’s primary retail store also in Jamaica, Queens; a second retail store in Miami is run by the Chins’ daughter Angela and her husband Howard Chung. With their 2008 acquisition of former competitor Greensleeves Records and its publishing arm (which administered more than 12,000 songs), VP Records became the world’s largest reggae label/publisher and now has satellite offices in Johannesburg, Kingston, Rio de Janeiro, London, Tokyo and Toronto.

VP celebrates its 35th anniversary in the U.S. with a special edition of their annual two volume (singers and deejays, i.e. toasters) compilation series Strictly The Best, inaugurated in 1993. Both volumes (numbers 50 and 51, released on Nov. 25) include bonus discs featuring classic reggae and dancehall tracks from VP’s exhaustive catalogue. The most successful edition of Strictly The Best, Volume 31, released in 2003 has moved nearly 93,000 units according to SoundScan including tracks by dancehall stars Sean Paul and Wayne Wonder, both of whom were signed to Atlantic Records via joint distribution deals with VP as well as Hot 100 charting dancehall hits by Beenie Man “Dude” and T.O.K.‘s “Gal Yuh A Lead.”

A traveling, commemorative 20′ x 40′ pop up exhibition depicting VP’s decade by decade achievements, VP commissioned artwork by Michael Thompsonalongside photos of artists representing the label’s impressive roster over the years including Beres Hammond, Marcia Griffiths, Maxi Priest, Shaggy andYellowman, will be displayed at the inaugural One Caribbean Festival (December 13, 14, headlined by Sean Paul), Broward Regional Park, Fort Lauderdale, Fl, and at the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, in Trelawny, Jamaica, Jan. 28-31, 2015. “We are talking to sponsors now because our ultimate goal is to have this exhibition become part of a reggae museum in Kingston, which honor the artists, producers and studio operators that were there when everything started,” explains Miss Pat.

Everything started for Pat and Vincent Chin in the mid-1950s with Vincent’s job supplying the island’s jukeboxes with the latest 7″ records, predominantly American R&B hits. Chin decided that selling the jukeboxes’ redundant discs provided a viable business opportunity. In 1958 the Chins opened their first record store in downtown Kingston, Randy’s Record Mart and established the imprint Randy’s Records, so named for Vincent’s enthusiasm for the (influential) late night American radio program of that era, Randy’s Record Shop (hosted by Randy Wood, founder of Dot Records).

With their move to the centrally located 17 North Parade in 1961 and the construction of a four-track recording studio (Studio 17) above the record shop, Chin emerged as a ground-breaking producer in shaping Jamaica’s nascent musical identity. His early successes included Trinidad-born, Jamaica based calypsonian Lord Creator‘s “Independent Jamaica” (a celebration of the island’s independence from England in 1962) the first single released in the UK on Chris Blackwell‘s then fledgling Island Records.

Chin’s productions also gave early exposure to legendary Jamaican acts at the dawn of the island’s ska era including The Skatalites, The Maytals, Ken Boothe, the late Alton Ellis and the recently deceased John Holt. In the early 70s, the studio was upgraded and Chin’s eldest son Clive took control of the production sessions with the in-house band Randy’s All Stars. Clive is probably best known for his 1971 production of the late melodica master Augustus Pablo‘s influential single “Java.”

Miss Pat, meanwhile, handled the company’s business affairs working with producers who sought distribution and singers desirous of music business knowledge. “Back then I saw the need for a one-stop record store where people could buy everything. Producers Prince Buster, Duke Reid, Coxsone Dodd had their stores nearby on Orange St. (also known as Beat St.) but they just sold their own productions, there wasn’t a middle man (or woman) selling everybody’s records; I wasn’t biased or into politics, I bought from everyone.”

For her pioneering efforts as a female running a distributorship Miss Pat encountered some resistance, experiences she has used to empower a subsequent generation of women, including VP artists, within a male dominated business. “Miss Pat told me when she started out some men only wanted to speak to another man even though they knew she was an owner. But she said, as a caterpillar comes out of a cocoon, you can’t force people’s acceptance, it takes time; that’s why I promote everything she does in anyway that I can,” shared VP artist Etana whose soulful roots reggae album “I Rise” topped Billboard’s Reggae Album chart for the week of Nov. 8 the first female to reach the tally’s pinnacle position since Diana King‘s 1997 release “Think Like A Girl” (Columbia).

Miss Pat is now chronicling her unique challenges and triumphs in an as of yet untitled autobiography, which spans the evolution of popular Jamaican music from its initial dismissal in its birthplace to a flurry of major label interest in dancehall in the 90s and 00s and now a renewed wider interest in one drop reggae. Despite the changes, Miss Pat’s objectives “to see young artists develop their talents, learn to produce and sell their music” have remained the same.

Source: http://www.billboard.com/articles/business/6327824/reggae-miss-pat-chin-vp-records-35-years-america