Jamaican international recording artist Shaggy says the Jamaican diaspora needs to do more to support Jamaican music, and by extension, Jamaican culture.
Music and culture were the topics of discussion during the third virtual diaspora town hall hosted by Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks.
The Ambassador invited the Grammy-award-winning international artist to lead the discussion on the global influence of Jamaican music.
Shaggy noted that as influential as Jamaican music is on the global stage, there is an overwhelming lack of support for the music from Jamaicans. He pointed out that many Jamaicans at home and across the diaspora do not support local musicians in the same way they support international artists.
“I went on tour with Sting and I saw people paying up to $4,000 EUROS for VIP seats night after night. You might look at a dancehall or reggae show and these artists say, “well I’m in front of 1,000/2,000 people” and they’re like “yeah me ram the show”. But if you look at the ticket price, if you put it over $50, the show is not gonna be packed,” he said.
He continued saying that, “we have to get to a point where we’re valuing our artists to where if a promoter puts a ticket price at $100 or $150, you don’t say “that’s too expensive”, which is exactly what happens. Yet these same people are spending $300 to see Drake or anyone else.”
But in making that point, he also noted that local artists need to treat the entertainment industry as a business and be more professional.
“And then the artists themselves have to start handling themselves in more of a professional manner. Because if you’re not gonna do it professionally and have a professional team… if yah go run a patty shop, a man gonna treat it like a patty show,” he said.
Both Shaggy and Ambassador Marks pointed out that the diaspora’s strength is in their numbers. He said that if the diaspora were to stream more local music, that could change the trajectory of the genres.
Ambassador Marks has challenged the diaspora to put their economic support behind Jamaican culture and music.