Reggae’s staying power is undeniably attributed to the legendary works of Bob Marley. As popular as Reggae music is it is still considered a niche genre. But over the years main stream bands who adopted the reggae sound, from UB40 to No Doubt, enjoyed major success. Imitation is the best form of flattery and successes of bands from other countries should serve as a catalyst to the genre rather than overshadowing local artists. But now there are more and more reggae artists abroad who are on the rise with an independent approach, internet marketing and regional tours. Some are asking is this helping or hurting local Jamaican artists?
Maybe neither. There are too many variables with CD sales plummeting throughout the industry and the emergence of the Information Age the entire market landscape has shifted. The only constant is live performing which is where most Reggae Artist earn the bulk of their income. Good music, musical collaborations, consistent internet presence and a great live show will always translate. But a concerted effort by local industries and Jamaican government officials could help. The government has recently discussed viewing and supporting the Jamaican music culture and it’s intellectual property as an economic export. Making travel visas more accessible to artists would be a nice start. They are also rumored to be applying to have the U.N.’s culture organization add it to a global list of “intangible cultural heritage”. This and more companies like copyright non profit JACAP emerging could be the ground work to a strong economic engine.
Jamaica has created multiple musical forms such as Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae, Dub and Dancehall and has directly influenced others like Hip Hop. No other country that size has been more innovative in music. Perhaps with all that innovation, avant garde singles and the changing market place Reggae may experience it’s lows. But over the years the common core has been feel good music that makes you dance fast or slow, attacking social issues, heavy bass, great performers backed by a band and maybe dreadlocks for the more novice supporter. The artists that have carried these core elements like Capelton, Sizzla or Damian Marley tour often and maintain a loyal fan base. They galvanize the dancehall and roots reggae listener along with any live music fan. And now we are seeing newer artist become internet savvy and carry the torch like Tarrus Riley, Proteje and Chronixx along with dancehall artists like Busy Signal and Agent Sasco, formerly known as Assassin, bringing that conscious heavy bass, feel good, rebel vibes back. It’s a Reggae Revival!