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Dramatic decline in reggae album sales worldwide - But artistes remain optimistic

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by jamaica star .com
Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter


Although reggae album sales are decreasing around the world, local artistes are still optimistic about the sale of their records.
Queen of the dancehall, Lady Saw, said she was aware of the growing trend, but this will not stop her from releasing her album, My Way, early next year.

"A lot of people been holding back dem album and fraid to put it out. I am not watching the sales, sometimes you have to take chances," Lady Saw told THE STAR.

"I already take pictures, so I can't wait until everything change. I hope it sells and the songs are good. My fans on Facebook and MySpace have been complaining that it's taking too long," she said.

Sales tracker, SoundScan, reported that reggae album sales have decreased dramatically in the first 10 months of the year. SoundScan is an electronic network that collects sales data from over 17,000 record stores in the United States. Collectively, it said reggae/dancehall music sold just 502,171 units for the first 10 months of the year.

Sean Paul's Imperial Blaze leads the pack with 70,917 copies sold. However, this is a very small number when compared with his previous efforts, The Trinity, which sold over three million and his 2002 Dutty Rock release that sold five million.

Julian Marley's Awake has sold almost 9,000 copies. His brother Ziggy Marley's Family Time sold 36,152 copies. Tarrus Riley's Contagious and Mavado's Mr Brooks: A Better Tomorrow had dismal returns at 4,736 and 14,000, respectively. Queen Ifrica's Montego Bay, released in the summer by VP, has so far sold a mere 2,726 copies. One Moment In Time by Beres Hammond barely passed the 11,000 mark. Jah Cure's promising Universal Cure flopped with sales of 5,319 copies. Rasta Got Soul by Buju Banton was a bit better with over 8,000 sold.


Despite the depressing facts, Lady Saw is going ahead with her plans and will release the album on her own. In addition, Lady Saw says there are also less reggae shows being promoted around the world. And, when they are held, sometimes she has to perform for less than she is accustomed to.

Hence, to increase her earnings and take care of her family, she said she has been investing more.

small profit

"Yuh haffi try something, even if yuh only make a small profit. It's hard darling. Nuh watch the noise in the market 'cause everybody a feel it," Lady Saw told THE STAR.

"Now that I learn the business, I will take my time. I want to own my things."

She also plans to release a one-drop album that is geared towards the European market next year. At next January's Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival in Montego Bay, she will perform mostly songs from that new laid-back catalogue, under her 'Marion Hall' persona.

Fellow artiste Chuck Fenda also said he was not deterred by the drop in sales either.

"I hear it all the time but it never really jerk me no way. Mi just hear seh music nah sell. When the real thing come, people will just go out and support it," he told THE STAR.

And, he says his album Fulfillment, which was launched last week, is the 'real thing'.

"Things look great and it has only been released for a week. I am not really worried, once yuh come with good stuff," Chuck Fenda said, while noting that his album is already on charts in UK and USA.

"An album like this can uplift dem mind. It is relevant to what's happening. Real stuff that people can gravitate to."

He also noted that the sale of hard copy CDs should not be the only measure of album sales, as many persons are downloading songs from legal avenues like iTunes.

There is also lots of optimism coming from Kevin, who is part of Voicemail. He said the group's next album will be released in Europe early next year. He is especially hopeful because he said people actually buy albums
in that region.

"Yuh just haffi do weh yuh haffi do. People still a sell platinum. Yuh just haffi do your thing properly and make sure you market it in the right places," Kevin told THE STAR.

Adding, "It's not how it used to be, so you have to be concerned. You just have to put out your work and hope that people tek on to it."

Chuck Fenda

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