Music is a big and constantly growing business that can provide artistes with a steady stream of income if they make the right decisions, know their audience and especially understand their brand.
This was the message delivered by some of the island’s biggest entertainers at an Artiste Development Workshop hosted recently by the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) and held at the Sagicor School of Business, Cave Hill Campus.
Cultural Ambassador and ten-time calypso monarch The Most Honourable Stedson Red Plastic Bag Wiltshire and soca artiste Faith Callender were among those who emphasised the importance of artistes staying true to their brand and being consistent with messaging.
Wiltshire, who has been in the business for over four decades, contended that this level of consistency also builds trust with the audience, which leads to loyalty to the artiste’s brand.
But RPB also spoke about the importance of listening to the market as well as expanding and transitioning one’s brand to adjust with the shifts in the ever-evolving music industry.
He highlighted two major transitions that took place in his 43-year career and which were instrumental to his longevity and him remaining relevant.
The first began in 1993 following three substantial failures at the annual Pic-O-De-Crop competition. It was then he realised that if he wanted a full-time career in music and if he wanted to make money after the Crop Over season, there was a need to shift focus from the traditional social commentary.
The other took place in 2018 when he leveled up his writing to offer the public more philosophical songs. During the former period he opted out of competition and released the ragga soca hits Ragga Ragga and Something In The Music and later the reflective number I’m Alive.
“It [the first transitionary period] took me 19 years to transition. It was almost seamless. . . but you know why I had to take that time? Because I didn’t want to shock my market and make major shifts. . . . I had to do it because I decided in 1995 that I was going to do music full time,” he explained.
“You need to understand your brand, feed your brand, work on your brand and keep pushing it,” he added.
Similarly, Callender, an entrepreneur, also underscored the importance of artistes building their brand and understanding their market. She said this approach helped to evolve her brand beyond her being known simply for gracing a calendar, to standing firmly on the four pillars of fun, fitness, finance and fruition.
The popular female entertainer who currently has more than 251,000 followers on the social media platform Instagram, believed that equally important was leveraging social media as it builds awareness of the brand, cultivates the audience and expands an artiste’s reach.
On the other hand, singer/songwriter and producer, Damien Hypasounds Etienne credited his success on his ability not only to invest financially in himself but in the equipment used to create his music. According to him, quality music and how the music is packaged will precede an artiste before he or she even enters a room.
He revealed that in his early years he produced some of his biggest hits such as Dip, How She Like It and Get Up and Move not in any impressive recording studio but from his grandmother’s bedroom. Yet, these songs, due to their high production value, went on to receive international recognition and be the driving force of his career.
“It all started with me investing [in myself]. I was in a bedroom but I got to make sure I have a proper mic. I am going to make sure I have a proper sound card so that my music comes out correct, but I am not going to tell you don’t go in a studio and get proper music.
“What I would say to you is you could have a nice, decent set-up because what mine was for, was not to produce, it was for me to perfect my craft. So that if someone send me a rhythm, I could make a thousand mistakes on this before I go to the studio. When I go into the studio my mind is clear. . . to execute this performance,” Etienne stressed.
The workshop, which was coordinated externally by artiste manager Sonia Mullin, is one of a collection of initiatives which the NCF committed to hosting back in March at the launch of the Crop Over Festival.
At that time, the foundation revealed that due to the cancellation of this year’s Soca Monarch competition, the production money allocated for that show would be redirected to focus on artistes’ development. (PR)