ReggaeReggae Music News

Buju Banton: Streaming anticipation

June 19, 2020 | By Donovan Watkis (JR) |

Buju Banton is breaking new ground for the music business in Jamaica. Since his release from prison he has been steadily changing the way the world perceives reggae and dancehall music.

His BBC interview sparked music controversy and conversations as he placed reggae-dancehall music in the international context and critiqued the newcomers.

His tour which started in Jamaica, pulled audiences not seen since the Bob Marley concert in 1978.

Buju Banton did 86 months in a United States prison for drug charges that he has denied. The pundits who were expecting him to address the matter or issue an apology were left disappointed.

Professor Rupert Lewis and Jamaica’s Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton both gave sailing criticisms of Buju Banton’s “Long Walk To Freedom” concert in a Gleaner article remarking that “Buju is no Mandela”.

The professor further stated that “I admire Buju’s music, but Buju has to speak why he was in prison. There is a question mark that I have.”

The closest Banton has come to addressing his incarceration is on a song with Stephen Marley, “Yes My Friend”, in which he acknowledged the support given to him by Stephen while he was away.

The song itself is a celebration of him being “back on street again”. He first performed the song with visible emotions on the Welcome To Jamrock Cruise.

Buju also released a dancehall song from his Upside Down album, ‘Trust’ produced by Dave Kelly which finds Buju in his element as a paranoid dancehall narrator.

The only direct apology the Island Records and Roc Nation artist issued, was a statement condemning his controversial song “boom bye bye”.

He vowed never to perform the song again and welcomed everyone to his shows.

This was a historic move on the part of Buju Banton who is revered as on icon of Dancehall-Reggae Music.

The music business flourish with openness and collaborations and he has been inviting international stars to reggae dancehall music. He was featured on DJ Khaled’s platinum chart topping album album Father Of Asahd.

A video was shot in Jamaica for the hit Holy Mountain with fellow reggae stars Sizzla, Movado and Hip Hop new comer 070 Shake. The song now has 23M views on YouTube. He also has another song with international R&B star John Legend; ‘memories’. The song has been number one on the Reggae iTunes and AudioMack charts.

The metric used in the US music market to calculate the impact of a cultural icon has record sales and streams as an important element.

Buju however, is your favorite artist’s favorite artist. His Influence has crossed genres and demographic with his timeless catalogue which has been streamed 391 million times on Pandora.

He recently complained in a statement aired on the Breakfast Club that the reason why reggae and dancehall isn’t mainstream is because the music is “uplifting from the inside”. Alluding that the current mainstream appetite is for music that caters to the worldly materialism and stimulations.

The Grammy winner’s iconic journey may be likened to Michael Jordan who left The NBA Basketball and came back to even more success. Albeit Buju’s reason for leaving music was involuntary. He is back to pick up where he left off and people are anticipating a top performing comeback album.

Social Media

Buju was taken away in 2010, a time when social media was not as prevalent as it is today. There was a time when the mystique of an artist added value to his presentation. Fans are now less attentive and want to feel like they are a part of the creative process. In other music markets the consuming public follow trends from inclusive social media challenges, that allow them to make their own impressions of the music. In his own words he quipped: “I will get it, you’ll see” on an instagram post.

Shaggy is one Jamaican artist who has managed to use social media to translate into streaming numbers with his collaboration Banana with Conkarah. After the song was remixed by DJ FLE, the song gained five hundred thousand streams in a week on Spotify and went to the top of the TiK Tok charts with over 26 million videos made.

As one of the few Jamaican artists to have over a million instagram followers, Buju can leverage Instagram and other social media followers with creative marketing and remixes.

It requires niche focus and unique engagement directed at the streaming audience. An artist need less than one thousand units to make it to the top of the Billboard reggae chart.

If Buju engage his million fans on social media and make them feel party to the musical experience, as he would those who turn up at his shows, his iconic impact would give his new and old fans more reasons to download and stream his new album.

Donovan Watkis


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