Downloads, piracy blamed for decline

J'can CD sales fall worldwide - Downloads, piracy blamed for decline
published: Sunday | October 12, 2008
Sadeke Brooks, Gleaner Writer

Bootleg CDs like those above, which were among pirated material seized during a sting operation by the Flying Squad in May 2007, have been blamed for some of the downturn in sales.

The sales of Jamaican music CDs worldwide are declining, with Internet access and piracy major contributing factors.

With the great increase in Internet access, the sale of actual CDs has been declining significantly. In addition, with the easy access to pirated music (bootlegs), fewer people are buying CDs and vinyl.

Bobby Clarke, CEO of Irie Jam Media, said "I am very sure the music sales are going down. Record stores in New York are closing down, CD sales are ridiculously low and reggae as a genre is down 50 per cent. With the advent of Itunes and bootleg, it is hard for someone to go into a store and buy a CD."

Economic downturn
Bobby Clarke of Irie Jam Media notes that Super Power Records in New York, a supplier of Caribbean music, closed as a result of the economic downturn in the United States and the decline in CD sales.

Yolan Zanders, marketing manager for VP Records Jamaica, said several factors contribute to the decline in Jamaican music CD sales, such as the recession in the United States and easy access to downloaded music.

However, she does not believe Jamaica is the only country feeling this musical pinch.

"It (music sales) has been decreasing. It's not just reggae music alone," she told The Sunday Gleaner.

Sales declining globally
Globally, CD sales do seem to be declining. In the recnt article 'CD sales falling faster than digital music sales rise' in the International Herald Tribune, it was reported that CD sales have fallen to their lowest level in 10 years, while digital distribution and piracy were increasing.

It read: "Global music sales dropped 8 per cent to US$19.4 billion in 2007, according to a report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Revenue came in at its slowest pace since at least 1997, the first year for which the body issued figures. Physical sales of CDs and DVDs fell 13 per cent to US$15.9 billion. Sales of downloaded songs and mobile-phone ringtones rose 34 per cent to US$2.9 billion."

Zanders said she has spoken to persons in Europe who believe that dancehall music is fading there and this might account for the decrease in sales. However, she believes dancehall has the ability to bounce back from its current downturn.

"Sometimes dancehall dies and then it gets back. That's the trend that I've seen in our music. I don't think it's something that is dead or will ever be dead," said Zanders.

Major problem
Reggae artiste Da'Ville said his music is doing well around the world, especially in Japan, where he will release his album called ItchibanHowever, he believes piracy is the major cause for the decrease in the sale of Jamaican music.

"The bootleg a di number one thing weh a mash up the music. When you do an album you invest a lot," he told The Sunday Gleaner. "So when people bootleg is like dem a tek a thing out of yuh pocket. Sales are decreasing significantly and everytime a man bootleg, is one less record sold."

Internet and piracy
Copeland Forbes says that much of the Jamaican music being produced now is not geared towards the international market.

Copeland Forbes, tour organiser, promoter, consultant and artiste manager, acknowledged that the Internet and piracy are causing a decline in the sale of Jamaican music CDs. However, he said there are other causes, such as the lack of a worldwide record distributor and insufficient marketing for Jamaican music.

He said there is a craving for Jamaican music in the Southern Hemisphere (including Australia and New Zealand) and some Middle Eastern and Asian countries. However, he said, there are few distributors in these areas. In some of these countries, Forbes said, the people only have access to music from Bob Marley, Lee 'Scratch' Perry and Lucky Dube, coming directly from Europe.

'Not making money'
"Artistes are not making money from record sales. They are making money from live performances," said Forbes, who has been in the music industry for 47 years. "Music is not selling in America. Europe is a more vibrant market for our music."

But Forbes has another problem.

"The material that we are putting out is that which suits us and not the international market. The lyrics are too colloquial," he told The Sunday Gleaner. "Our artistes need to make the music more understandable, so that the international market can relate to it. If they can't relate to it they are not going to buy it."

Nonetheless, Forbes believes Jamaican music is vibrant and has the potential to grow. However, he said more managers, producers and writers are needed in the business. And there is a very important, intangible factor.

"We don't feel the love in the music. It is just hostile. Most of the music is disposable. We need to put out better music, so we can stand side-to-side with the rest of the world," Forbes said.

Now people who know me know that I always say that artistes don't make their money on sales. They make money touring and with all of the clothing lines and memorabilia. If you read this you will see why SOCA music will suffer even more. We never had a STAR like Bob Marley to take our music with a universal message. Yet we continue to clamour for Billboard and Grammy recognition with SOCA as a musical genre. LISTEN to what Forbes said...

"The material that we are putting out is that which suits us and not the international market.
The lyrics are too colloquial,"

If we only continue to cater to the West Indian diaspora and the international Carnival lovers who have learned to appreciate the music then the music may well be destined to become extinct. Chutney music may well surpass SOCA music because they may do well in the Indian sub-continent as they also sing in Hindi.

The belief in the music has to start at home. Not everyone knows how to get music illegally from the internet. and not everyone can afford the investment either. So if we get the pirates off the streets and out of the plazas and 'malls' we will be starting something. If we also enforce a 50/50 mandate on radio stations at least we will know what our locals have to offer. the URBAN radio frequencies may sound more Trinbagonian instead of Jamaican or American.


Iyahblazze - At The Movies

Iyahblazze feat. Soul 4 Soul 'Saturday Night at The Movies' is a cover from the famous 70's group the Drifters. The music video is a tribute to the Jamaican Film "The Harder They Come." Shot in Kingston Jamaica and directed by Jay Will and edited by Joel Burke.


Desperate Houseflies

A music documentary depicting the lives of 5 musicians as they record their fourth full length album "The January Transfer Window" at a beach house in Mayaro, Trinidad. Desperate Houseflies is a valuable document, showcasing a hardworking band that deserves to tell its story.
Directed by: Walt Lovelace
Length 37mins

Part 01

Part 02

Part 03

Part 04


Alton Ellis: 1944-2008

Alton Ellis: 1944-2008Alton Ellis: 1944-2008

Mr. Soul, Alton Ellis, passed away on the morning of October 9th. The world was given this treasure in 1944 when he was born in Trenchtown, Kingston, JA. His career spanned nearly five decades and his ever-lasting impression on the future of Jamaican music came in the mid- to late-sixties as the riddim-laden grooves filled with his soulful melodies permeated the upbeat vibrations of the ska era. The summer of 66 saw the explosion of Rocksteady in the Kingston scene and Alton ruled the dancehalls during this time as he cuts tunes for Studio One and Treasure Isle among others.

His musical longevity persisted for years and years and he enjoyed much-deserved praise from a new generation of listeners as Ska and Rocksteady made a revival in the late nineties.


Randy's 50th Anniversary

A brief intro into the history of Randy's record distribution started.

Randy's the Foundation of VP Records Celebrating 50 years.

This is a video series about the history Jamaican Music and Its cultivation at Randy's Records, the foundation of today's VP Records currently celebrating 50 years in Caribbean Music.

Founded in 1958 by Vincent and Patricia Chin, Randys was the first complete package - studio, distribution, sales and most importantly vibes. Producers and artists crowded Idlers Rest—a famous spot around the corner of Randys—to get a chance to record in the studio. Many legends today made their mark at this historic location.

Bob Marley & The Wailers recorded their ground-breaking album Catch A Fire and Peter Tosh voiced his first two solo albums Legalize It and Equal Rights at Randys Studio. According to reggae luminary Pat Kelly, Randys had the sound people want. We can call it the ghetto sound. The real roots sound.

From the very start, Randys linked itself to the popular yet controversial musical styles of the day particularly SKA, ROOTS and DUB REGGAE.

From its start to the early 60s Randy's featured the early politically motivated Ska tunes Independent Jamaica from Lord Creator and Malcolm X from the Skatalites, the Bob Marley & The Wailers cover of the Archies pop single Sugar Sugar and John And James by a youthful Toots & The Maytals displaying their spiritual and subtly subversive style. Also musical pioneers like the great trombonist Don Drummond on Machine Shop, organ player Jackie Mittoo on End Dust and the original sound system deejay Winston Count Machukie Cooper on Warfare.

The special significance of singers in the 1970s is reflected in songs like Dont Go by Horace Andy, Lonely Soldier by Gregory Isaacs, For The Love of You by John Holt, and Cheater from Dennis Brown. Randys critical role in the birth of reggae was re-confirmed with the release of Augustus Pablos Java that decade. This Clive Chin (son of Vincent Chin) production was an instant hit not to mention the 1972 Instrumental of the Year and title track to the first ever dub album, Java, Java, Java, Java. DJ I-Roys Hospital Trolley (recorded on the Java riddim), Peter Toshs You Cant Fool Me Again and Junior Byles King of Babylon are also must-listen recordings included on this extraordinary bicentennial release.

Sly Dunbar one half of the famed riddim twins Sly & Robbie sat in on many Randys Studio 17 sessions in those years. In this series of videos he describes how the Randys sound was one that sounds ten times better than the stuff being put out today. We are [now] trying to get back that sound but we cant get it back.

From ska to reggae, to dub to Jamaicas leading singers, Randys over its 50 years is a historic part of reggae culture from its beginnings in the 1960s to perhaps its most ingenious peak in the 1970s and then 80s.

This commemorative series puts these influential music-makers in their proper place, in the hands of reggae collectors and music fans everywhere with a complete package with Online Videos, and the entire series available on the DVD in Double disk CD/DVD album available with all music included from the videos. Respect to Randys every time


VC - Its Time

Directed by Nathan Cowan and David Rogers


Texting while driving

After reading the article I question the policies in Trinidad & Tobago. The present Government has already signed off and have started the TriniTrain Project. Lets create the legislation from now to avaoid these type of accidents.

LA rail crash driver was texting

A Los Angeles train driver sent a text message on his mobile phone 22 seconds before his train crashed, killing 25 people, investigators say.

Robert Sanchez, who was among the dead, sent 29 messages while on duty on the day of the crash, phone records show.

The National Transportation Safety Board says it is pursuing "many avenues of inquiry" into the accident's cause.

The Metrolink passenger train missed a red signal just before ploughing into a freight train on 12 September.

It was the deadliest rail crash in the US for 15 years.

"I am pleased with the progress of this major investigation to date," said acting safety board chairman Mark Rosenker.

Teenagers' claims

Mr. Sanchez's phone records show that he sent his last text message at 1622:01. The accident occurred at 1622:23, according to the freight train's on-board recorder.

Investigators said they were continuing to correlate times from Mr. Sanchez's mobile phone, the train recorders and data from the rail signalling system.

Investigators assess train crash in Los Angeles on 16/09/08
More than 130 people were hurt in the collision

Since the crash, train drivers in California have been banned from using mobile phones while they are on duty.

Anyone found guilty of violating the new order could now be fined up to $20,000 (£11,000).

The Metrolink passenger train was carrying 222 passengers between Los Angeles and Moorpark, north-west of the city, when the crash happened.

Rail investigators have concluded that Mr. Sanchez failed to brake at a red signal and smashed into the freight train.

The force of the impact drove the passenger train's engine back inside the first carriage.

Mr. Sanchez was among 25 people killed and more than 130 were injured.

The board requested his mobile phone records after two teenage train enthusiasts who befriended the driver told a local TV station they received a text message from Mr।Sanchez just before the crash