FridayÂ´s issue of the Guardian featured an article on the impact of the “elimination” of vinyl on Jamaican popular music.
Amongst other, author Dave Stelfox interviewed European veteran DJ David Rodigan on the current situation of the Jamaican music economy. HereÂ´s some quotes that I think are worth being shared:
“[...] vinyl has been eliminated by the people who play the music to the public. The key players – and by that I mean the sound system selectors that people go to see every weekend, who can make or break a song – are no longer dealing with it in any shape or form and have all switched to CD. [...]. This process has been gradual, but it’s now absolute.”
“The domestic Jamaican market for singles has been negligible for quite some time. Turntables are no longer available there and the home audience buys sound system mixtapes and DVDs of live shows and dances instead.”
“It’s a reflection of the economic realities in Jamaica that the emotional motivations of overseas collectors have for years propped up vinyl manufacture.”
With this changing, too, Dan Kuster, A&R of Greenseleeves Records, sees the whole process of promoting and distributing reggae music revolutionised:
“It’s got to the point that when producers say that a song has been released in Jamaica, they don’t actually mean that it’s been pressed. They just mean that it’s being played.”
“Also, while the older people who listen to roots reggae may still want to own music, dancehall is pop music with a young audience that, typically, just wants to be able to hear it and is not concerned with being able to hold the actual record.”
In Jamaica, this doesnÂ´t really affect artists as they still have the opportunity to earn money playing live shows and voicing dubplates. It really hits the producers though, who are “cut of ReggaeÂ´s economic loop”.
One of them, a very successful one, too, Jeremy Harding, therefore sees the need for changing from a quantity to a quality approach in order to survive:
“To get by, people are going to have to be smart,” he says. “They will have to take a longer-term view and this can be done by paying attention to things like artist development.”
And adds a very important statement:
“Whatever happens, though, reggae and dancehall will never go away. This is our culture so, as long as new generations of artists keep coming through and people want to dance to it, it will always have a future.”