Greetings! I sent this letter, twice actually, to the editors and writers of the Jamaica Gleaner and Observer after reading Prime Minister Golding’s official statement declaring that ‘it is time for a comprehensive reggae marketing plan.’ I enthusiastically replied as a member of the reggae community, a fan, and a concerned world citizen. Since they didn’t publish it, and in order to share these thoughts and suggestions with the global community, here is my letter. If you would like to respond or comment, please write me.
As a 27-year Reggae industry veteran, I was ecstatic to read Prime Minister Golding’s acknowledgement that it is “time for a comprehensive marketing plan for Reggae music.” In recognizing Reggae’s importance on a level equal to tourism, I commend his initiative to create a strategy that will not only positively promote Reggae, but also address the negativity that has pervaded the world stage. The prime minister’s official May 26 release appeared on websites in the USA, France, Czechoslovakia, Japan, and Thailand, attesting to Jamaica and Reggae’s international interest. Nearly 40 years old, Reggae is recognized as “Jamaica’s greatest musical export,” and the time to protect its hard-earned reputation is now.
From 1996 to 2007, several studies, written locally and abroad, have addressed Reggae, Jamaica, and the importance of global marketing. The link between the two is undeniable; Reggae is part of Jamaica’s image in the tourist market. The plan is already there, studied and presented by scholars, music professionals, politicians, and journalists. Central to the solution is the Internet. The possibilities for e-commerce, digital download, creativity, and wide-ranging national and cultural promotion – when well organized and managed – will create extensive employment opportunities and contribute considerably to Jamaica’s economy.
I commend all foundation Reggae artists and professionals who achieved success and shaped a world sensation before the Internet. Young artists have benefited from this groundwork, and any action on their part to dishonor such achievement must, and will be, addressed. Although abundant, “talent alone is not sufficient to build a competitive music industry.” Effective business organization requires entrepreneurs, intellectual property protection, access to financing, education, training, new technology, and the expertise of the private and public sectors.
Today, negativity surrounding Dancehall artists who endorse homosexual violence or degrade women has marked a decline in creative talent. The positive message of 70s and 80s Reggae is being overshadowed by the recent era of negative lyrics. Citing Bible passages as the reason for this rhetoric is narrow-minded and selective. Unfortunately, this phenom has left Jamaica, where fans may enjoy or encourage such talk, and travelled abroad where large numbers of fans – gay or not – find the content offensive. Dancehall artists who endorse or participate in ‘gay bashing’ are bringing great global harm to Reggae’s reputation and 40-year history. How will it stop? Education. Opportunity. Cooperation. Action. Addressing this problem is the beginning of a solution. Get up, stand up. To plan for Reggae’s future, we must first believe in Reggae’s future.
M. Peggy Quattro
ReggaeReport.com & Reggae Report Publisher
June 5, 2008