Given the dizzying pace of reggae music production and how quickly songs fade, sometimes because of the competition for the spotlight, the idea of the shelf life of a reggae song is interesting. Reggae music economics for the majority of the industry centers around what would be considered a hit song in the reggae world. Not to be confused with breakout pop hits this scale say the Billboard charts. But rather songs that top the reggae world. Songs that capture the hearts and ears of reggae fans.
This hit chasing is crucial for artists and independent labels alike, because a hit song for an artist means concert gigs, and for a producer it means possible inclusion on a compilation or an album. As such, there is a constant ever faster race for the next hit song, which means there is always a glut of songs being released. While there may be nothing wrong with this approach, as reggae adheres to free market approaches where the better song, artist, and production work wins. In theory anyway. More deliberation and thought should go into releases.
The shelf life of a modern reggae song then is a curiosity. Most songs that stand the test of time have a genesis that includes production, release, popularity, and then it lives on in perpetuity as part of our memory. If that is the case, then most reggae song’s while being excellent works of artistry will have a very short or no shelf life. Stop and think for a moment about all the songs that you would consider as having a great shelf life. Why do you consider them and as such? Chances are they were hits, and are tired to your memory where an appreciation was formed. How then can reggae songs ensure longer shelf lives. There may be no easy or straightforward answer to that question. It must of course always start with excellent works of artistic creativity. In short the music must be good and resonate with ordinary people.
Music marketing, release scheduling, anticipation building must become part of the craft along with the art. Fan base building, ensuring music discoverability, doing out reach and achieving visibility. Songs are even more interesting to us when we feel as though we know the people behind them. Music is not only an artistic pursuit, it’s also a business. A consumer business to be exact. A commodity even. As such, to ensure the shelf life the product, music labels, artists, and producers should strategize for the long game and not quick hits or wins.