In the wake of the burning issue raised by reggae artiste Mr Vegas regarding artistes not receiving the relevant credit for their work, the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JARIA) chairman, Ibo Cooper, recently told The Sunday Gleaner that the issue of giving credit should start locally, directing focus on our radio stations.
The former Third World band member pointed out that Jamaican DJs have abandoned the international law of attribution, which governs how recording artistes are credited for their work.
“It’s a law in this country and many radio stations are breaching that law, because now they are playing people’s music and bigging up the disc jockey. So you listen to a programme and all you hear is ‘DJ Ibo’ repeatedly, and you don’t hear whose music. You are breaking a law, because you are supposed to say whose music you are playing,” he said.
Cooper said he understands that there is a distinct format which distinguishes how Jamaican DJs juggle music. However, there is still room to give the necessary credit without interrupting the flow of engagement with their audience.
“You don’t have to announce it right there during the set. You can do it after the programme is finished, but you are supposed to mention the creators. A lot of things are happening locally which is bad for us, the creators, and that is bad, because without that music being created, how will you big up your DJ name while playing? And so, people are damming the stream at different points and this is causing the business of music to go down. Because if the DJ big up Freddie McGregor, him can still big up himself as a DJ. But not every guy wants to be the main guy and the turntable don’t play itself,” he said.
When contacted, media personality DJ Lux admitted that many DJs are not aware of the law of attribution. However, they do try to give credit in certain situations.
“We mention the names of young artistes who the public don’t really know as yet. However, if it is a big name, we tend to assume that the public already knows the name of the artiste. At the same time, if the big artiste has released a new song, we will mention the name and the producer to give credit. Ibo has a good point, but it’s not totally accurate. Perhaps he should say we need to improve our consistency,” he said.
DJ Lux also pointed out that radio DJs promote themselves while juggling so as to establish themselves as a brand, which can, in turn, benefit the music industry.
“People like Barry G and other icons had to call their names on air to build the brand we appreciate today. So I guess it’s about finding some form of balance, because you can’t tell a man not to build his brand,” he said.
Still on the topic of giving credit, Cooper also said Drake’s decision to sample the work of several Jamaican acts without giving the relevant credit was wrong. He also disclosed that the legendary Third World band endured a similar situation during their formative years at the hands of American rapper Heavy D.
“That’s robbery! Then Heavy D nuh do that to Third World! You should get the artiste’s permission and you should also mention them. But, you see, the problem is that it all depends on negotiation, and many of the guys don’t know how to negotiate. There is something called the music union, which is at a low in this country. You are supposed to be a union member, and the unions work together all across the world and can lobby for artistes in situations like that,” he said.
ARTISTES NOT IN THE KNOW
According to Cooper, Jamaican artistes are not attending the educational seminars put on by JARIA and other relevant entities associated with the music industry and, as such, remain ignorant to many opportunities available to them.
“We have the union and you have to be a union member to strengthen the union. Only then we will be able to negotiate for our credit when working with international artistes. They are not stealing our culture, they are robbing us because we don’t have proper representation,” he said.
Cooper also disclosed that his royalty cheques are in better standing than many contemporary recording artistes because he took a business approach to the music industry. That being said, he also warned young acts to take serious consideration of their future when making agreements with foreigners regarding their creation.