Is Jamaica losing reggae?
By Steven Jackson Sunday Observer writer
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Few Jamaicans chart in Japan, US and Europe signalling, as pundits suggest, that international reggae doesn't need Jamaica.
The charts in Japan, Germany, Switzerland and New Zealand, up to yesterday, had only one Jamaican-born artiste - Bob Marley - in the top ten. The US and France were also low at three and four Jamaicans charting respectively in those top ten charts.
Contrastingly, countries with less vibrant indigenous reggae scenes relied on Jamaican artistes to fill the top ten such as the Netherlands at eight and Belgium and Spain both at seven.
The Observer analysed iTunes Reggae Album charts in 22 countries and found that on average four Jamaicans chart in the top 10. iTunes is a popular online music store which has readily available chart data.
"It is true that very often what you hear is indigenous (Swiss) reggae on radio," Swiss musicologist, journalist and historian Marc Ismail said of his country. Ismail was responding to an Observer query at a public lecture in Kingston. "...but the role of Jamaica would still be important."
As a result, Jamaica's role is less entertainment and more education for the Swiss reggae artistes and instrumentalists.
"It is these very same bands are listening day and night to Jamaican music. they would add their own influences and language," said Ismail. "These bands are still rooted in Jamaica. I never heard of a reggae band who is not (learning) from these bands ...even if their music sounds different."
Earlier this month entertainment specialist, Charles HE Campbell said that Jamaica needed new strategies to penetrate the European market. "The very success of reggae in the European market could spell the reduction of market share for Jamaican acts in the future," he stated in his Observer column this month. "Unless we review and adjust our business, production and promotional strategies aimed at that continent Jamaica runs the risk of forfeiting considerable market share to European reggae artistes and bands who have become extremely popular in these domestic markets."
Jamaican artistes on iTunes Reggae Album charts include:
. US with (3/10), Bob Marley (two albums[X]) and Damian Marley;
. UK with (6/10), Bob Marley (X2), Jimmy Cliff, John Holt, Sean Paul and Jah Cure;
. France with (4/10) Bob Marley (X3) and Sean Paul;
. Germany with (1/10) Bob Marley;
. Australia (3/10) Bob Marley (X2) and Sean Paul;
. Austria with (1/10) Bob Marley;
. Belgium with (6/10) four Bob Marley (X4) and Sean Paul (X2);
. Canada with (4/10) two Bob Marley (X2), Stephen Marley and Damian Marley;
. Denmark with (3/10) Bob Marley(X2) and Sean Paul;
. Finland with (5/10) Bob Marley (X2), Damian Marley, Gregory Isaacs, Elephant Man;
. Greece with (6/10) Bob Marley (X5) and Stephen Marley;
. Ireland with (6/10) Bob Marley(X2) Jimmy Cliff, Damian Marley Sean Paul and TOK;
. Italy with (6/10) Bob Marley (X4), Asafa Powell (workout CD), Omar Perry;
. Japan with (1/10) Bob Marley ;
. Luxembourg with (4/10) Bob Marley (X3) and Sean Paul;
. Netherlands with (8/10) Bob Marley (X5) Lee Scratch Perry, Sean Paul, Asafa Powell;
. New Zealand with (1/10) Bob Marley;
. Norway has with (6/10) Bob Marley (X4), Shaggy and Sean Paul;
. Portugal with (5/10) Bob Marley (X3), the Congos, Maxi Priest;
. Spain with (7/10) Bob Marley (X4), Omar Perry, Asafa Powell ( and Sean Paul;
. Sweden with (5/10) Bob Marley (X3), Peter Tosh and Ziggy Marley; and
. Switzerland with (1/10) Bob Marley.