Reggae/dancehall artiste Mr Vegas is gearing up to release his eighth album, This Is Dancehall on September 23, 2016. However, Mr Vegas says the project will be his last in the dancehall genre.
According to Mr Vegas, since albums are not selling, it is almost pointless to release albums when the cost of production exceeds the profits. For example, his last album, Reggae Euphoria, only sold 100 copies online, despite being released on the heels of his smash hit, Bruck It Down, which as a single, sold over 40,000 units.
“I think I have reached the point where I have to accept the reality that dancehall/reggae albums don’t sell anymore. When the biggest artiste in this era is only downloading 2,000 copies, then I personally can’t see the sense in spending so much money and having sleepless nights to make an album that will only download that number,” he said.
The artiste admitted that free downloading services have destroyed the music industry as it relates to sales. He also believes recording artistes with less popularity and commercial success are at a huge disadvantage.
As for his investment in albums, Mr Vegas disclosed that he lost all the profit from the success of Bruck It Down, because he reinvested it in production.
“The difficulty in producing an album includes money, features, airplay and sales. To meet my standard, I have to work with the best producers and musicians, and that is very costly. To produce my ‘Sweet Jamaica‘ album, it cost a lot. The money I made from my single, Bruk It Down, all went back into that project. It was an album that got great reviews and may pay off later in life, but I am not sure if that was good business sense,” he said.
Mr Vegas also pointed out that international artistes like Drake, Jay Z, Rihanna, among others, who continue to sell records, are being assisted by major companies like Tidal, Samsung and Apple Music. Jay Z sold one million copies of his album, Magna Carta Holy Grail to Samsung in 2013, while Drake signed a multi-million deal with Apple Music and offers the company exclusives to his work. The resulting partnership saw Drake selling 632,000 copies of his new album just 24 hours after its release.
“Signing to a major label and not having a large loyal fanbase that will buy your albums may still be challenging … Jay Z, Drake, Beyonce, Rihanna, etc., have companies like Apple Music buying their music before it is even released to the public and selling it back in package deals or downloads to customers. This strategy creates a hype around the project. So everyone in the world, now wants to get this product.
The self-proclaimed dancehall defender also suggested that locally based companies such as Digicel and Flow adopt a similar business approach. Digicel and Flow are both known to embark on partnerships with recording artistes, but as it relates to purchasing their music in bulk, that has never been a strategy.
“Our companies can emulate what Apple Music and other companies are doing in the US and other countries. Digicel and FLOW have millions of customers throughout the Caribbean, so if they buy the top albums and hottest music from the top artistes, they could sell it back to customers in package deals. For example, Konshens has the hottest song right now. Wouldn’t the customers from these networks be happy if they get that track for free download when they sign up, pay bills on time, take a certain package or top-up? Of course, the phone companies can play a major role in making our music more successful, but I don’t think they want to help.”
In looking to the future, however, Mr Vegas hinted that he might be looking in a different direction musically, as he might be doing some gospel albums soon.