Can Fans Of Jamaican Music Support Two SiriusXM Satellite Reggae Channels? 

Sting 2020 Concert Series Looking To Make A Virtual Return On December 26 –  Radio DubplateIn observance of the 40th anniversary of Bob Marley’s passing, former New York City radio pioneer Ken Williams reminisced about his close friendship with the reggae icon. On the many trips Marley made to New York City, Jamaica-born Williams recalled that he would frequent reggae nightspot, Club Negril, located in Manhattan’s east village. Williams remembered a night when ‘The Tuff Gong’, as Bob was respectfully known, was in the club and Negril’s DJ Ricky Warmington honoured his presence by playing his music until Bob went over to the DJ booth and told him to stop: “Bob told him, ‘Don’t want unnu play only Wailers tune, other man deh yah to.’ I thought that was such a classy thing to do. To acknowledge other artistes and ask that their music also be played,” Williams reflected.

Bob Marley passed away on May 11, 1981. He was 36. Marley broke down many barriers for reggae in his lifetime, and posthumously, he’s reaching even bigger audiences. Marley’s greatest hits collection, Legend, released in 1984, has spent 13 years on the Billboard Top 200, and is the best-selling reggae album of all time, certified 15 times platinum in the US. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. His single, One Love, was named Song of the Century by the BBC while Time Magazine honoured Exodus as The Album of the Century. Even with these unparalleled accomplishments, Marley’s beloved music does not define reggae, as he made clear to the DJ at Club Negril.

Top 10 Reggae Festivals in the USA - Festicket MagazineOn December 3, 2020, Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Radio was officially added to SiriusXM’s roster of artiste-dedicated channels. A SiriusXM press release stated, “Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Radio will feature the cultural icon’s entire music catalogue, both live and recorded, including rare recordings, some of which have never been made available to the public. Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Radio will also highlight the branches of his still-growing musical legacy, including The Wailers, I-Three, Tuff Gong International, the record label founded by Marley in the ‘70s, and his children and grandchildren … .”

It mentioned that SiriusXM’s long-standing reggae channel, The Joint, was relocated from satellite channel 42 to channel 722, where it can be heard online and on the app but cannot be picked up on car radios, where many SiriusXM subscribers listen to the platform.


Record label execs, producers, artistes and fans are concerned about The Joint’s removal from SiriusXM’s satellite channel roster. The Joint broadcasts old and new songs, traditional roots and dancehall reggae from all over the world, with an emphasis on the music’s Jamaican birthplace, all guided by Pat McKay, SiriusXM’s director of programming, reggae. As the only national reggae station in the US, removing The Joint from a satellite channel to a streaming app constricts a vital artery for reggae’s exposure. “This is a big blow to reggae music in the United States,” comments Aaron Talbert, vice president, sales and marketing at VP Records, the largest reggae label in North America. “The timing and reduction of a potential audience, alongside the slowdown of performance and touring opportunities due to the pandemic, hit a nerve in terms of the vitality of reggae as a productive genre here because it really diminishes the music’s presence.”

ReggaeFest – It's Not Every Day You Get To Reggae!The Joint was founded as a reggae channel on the XM Satellite Radio Network in 2001, and Grammy Award-winning producer Wayne Jobson was appointed programme director. “Every song had to be as brilliant as Beres Hammond’s Putting Up Resistance, Tyrone Taylor’s Cottage in Negril, Buju Banton’s Not an Easy Road and Black Uhuru’s Solidarity, or it wouldn’t get played,” Jobson stated.

When the satellite network was ready to go live in 2001, the team debated which song should inaugurate the broadcast. “I demanded that the first song played on XM be Bob Marley’s One Love,” Jobson recalled. “So Bob was up in heaven looking down smiling, saying, ‘I launched the biggest radio operation in history.’ I love Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Radio, but I am disappointed that The Joint was removed because it catered to all reggae music.”

Jobson’s sentiments mirror the comments of so many reggae fans whose postings across social media platforms expressing their disapproval of the reggae channel’s demotion; some have said they’ve cancelled their subscriptions, protesting the decision. Surely SiriusXM understands there’s a large enough audience to support two satellite radio reggae stations, one devoted to Marley’s esteemed legacy and the other, The Joint, which showcases numerous reggae and dancehall artistes from Jamaica and beyond.

Scott Greenstein, president and chief content officer entertainment and sports, SiriusXM and Steve Blatter, senior vice president and general manager, music programming, did not respond to multiple emails seeking comment about the decision to remove The Joint from the SiriusXM satellite roster.


Another significant issue related to the relocation of The Joint is that royalty rates paid for songs streamed on the SiriusXM app are less than those paid for spins on a satellite radio channel. “Unfortunately, there isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison because satellite radio pays on a percentage of annual revenue into a pool that is divided among the tracks that were played, not the number of listeners (because that number cannot be tracked), and their web service is a per-stream rate, so that is dependent on how many people streamed an artiste’s track,” said VP Records’ Aaron Talbert when asked to explain the discrepancy.

One Love Cali Reggae Fest Tickets - One Love Cali Reggae Fest Concert  Tickets and Tour Dates - StubHub CanadaAlthough The Joint is an American station, its demotion obviously impacts reggae’s birthplace, since the channel broadcasts a great deal of music by Jamaican artistes. While the consequences of this action may not be immediate, Ewan Simpson, chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association, says the organisation is bracing for the full impact. “We are not aware of any artiste who has been affected by the downgrade just yet, because it takes a little while to show because of the way royalties are calculated and accounted. But at the same time, there is concern for this downgrade because it will impact not just royalties, but the marketing of reggae music made in Jamaica. We are really concerned because lovers of Jamaican music in the diaspora will also be impacted. I was hoping we would have been able to grow The Joint as a satellite radio channel, but it may be (somewhat) attributable to the fact that we have not thrown enough (support) behind those systems.”


Igor Katz, the co-founder of the Oakland California-based Ineffable Music, which has a large clientèle of international reggae artistes, says that continued support for The Joint is essential. “I don’t have SiriusXM in my car, so I’ve always listened to it on my phone or on the app, but for people that have SiriusXM in their cars, I would urge them to keep listening to The Joint on the app, on the web and let’s channel our position to get the things that we want. We need to solidify the metrics that do exist because we have the power and ability to create an impact.”

As of March 4, The Joint’s former home, channel 42, has been occupied by Drake’s Sound 42.

“Bob Marley is still the godfather of reggae; he struggled for many years to get any radio play in Jamaica, where they would not (initially) play Rasta music, and in America. I appeal to the powers that be at SiriusXM to reinstate The Joint (as a satellite channel). There is room for two satellite reggae channels. Just like Bob told the Club Negril DJ decades ago, ‘Don’t want unnu play only Wailers tune, other man deh yah too.’

Source: Is there ‘One Love’ for two SiriusXM satellite reggae channels? | Entertainment | Jamaica Gleaner

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