Music Industry Survival 101

- by Deana Myers -

Reggae and dancehall are definitely two authentic styles of music and with its rich cultural backdrop, new talent is showcased in different ways. With that said, the competition is always very high, in terms of artists trying to ‘make it’. Understandably, this is often the primary aim of a lot of young artists who are just emerging – to claim their space in the industry.

The pursuit of one’s desired career is always a good thing; however, it often comes with lots of challenges and a music career is no different! When it comes to reggae and dancehall, every successful artist/group will testify to the many challenges that they faced on their journey.

Management plays a very important role in an artist’s career as they can nurture growth and development and can potentially make or break it. Additionally, every artist should think of themselves as a brand that they are selling to the world. Therefore their image, as well as music, should be of a good standard and appealing to the consumer. It is especially important for younger artists to have a marketing team. Such a team would be dedicated to building and maintaining good PR for the artist, which would have a direct impact on establishing a reputable image for them – this is key.


What I am having difficulty condoning is the fact that some artists get a management team whose core mission is to make money, thus having a tendency to forget about the quality of music produced and the longevity of said artist’s career. We’ve seen many an artist burst on the scene with a ‘bang!’ who, because of lack of guidance and experience, end up not prevailing in the business. What’s more, in many instances their music starts to sound the same with no apparent flavour, as they are perceived as somewhat boring. With that said, some rising artists – who are lucky enough to score a hit single – often become consumed by ‘hype’ and forget about the fans and the buyers of their music. With proper management these damaging scenarios would not occur.

The artist is not a ‘one man army’ and cannot manage all of the areas that make for a truly fruitful career. Their main focus should be on making good music! Whilst they should definitely have input in, and awareness of, the steps taken to enhance their career – the execution of these measures should be the responsibility of another.

Live events and touring have gradually become the biggest source of income for reggae and dancehall artists – they look forward to touring the world to perform for the many supporters of their music. On the other hand, through advancements in internet and technology, a greater emphasis has been placed upon online sales and legal download platforms such as iTunes. However this does not necessarily mean that the dancehall and reggae artists profit from these mediums as typically fans who listen to and like this type of music don’t buy it, particularly when there are many illegal downloading alternatives!


So, therein lies the importance of tours and live shows. These can be challenging for Promoters as they are often faced with many challenges in their bid to provide income for themselves, the artist, as well as put on a good show. However, because of dedication they still host events despite resounding difficulties and plentiful opportunities for losses. On the whole, promoters are undervalued which is not right as it is them who provide an additional platform for artists’ music to be showcased.

With the gainful opportunities for both the artist and promoter, the very least that the artist should do is to put on a great show for the patrons, who come out to see and support them! Again, this is where a management team’s uses would be maximized, as it would be their responsibility to help arrange and ensure preparation for a performance.

Personal problems should be put aside. After all, the audience does not care about that. What they care about is a good performance and getting their money’s worth! It is unfair for patrons to come out to support an artist or even come to enjoy the show and the artiste fails to deliver; particularly in a economically difficult time when many end up having to sacrifice one thing or another, in order to find the funds to attend an event.

Sustainability as an artist is no easy task. However, like every other job, dedication and quality are what count and to stay on top you have to be humble, willing to take honest criticism and build from it. Take most experiences as a learning process. After all, veterans did not become so overnight!

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