Josef Bogdanovich, CEO/founder of Downsound Entertainment, organisers of Reggae Sumfest, is a happy man. Tickets for the July 14-20 event are selling as fast as fans of headliner, Buju Banton, can say ‘Long Walk to Freedom’.
Sumfest saw a whirlwind sell-out of their early-bird tickets online, and overseas-based festival-goers are still tapping into that advanced ticket sales market. “The demand for the VIP is so high that I had to design an ultra-VIP section,” Bogdanovich disclosed. “As a result, we had to construct a platform that can hold an extra 500 people.”
Although a lot of the online ticket sales are from overseas, especially in the United States, Bogdanovich admitted that he couldn’t say if the purchasers are tourists who are captivated by his savvy marketing blitz, or if they are Jamaicans who are coming home to enjoy Reggae Sumfest. Either way, it is a win for him.
A quick browse of the website shows that ultra-VIP tickets for festival night two, July 20, are sold out, but tickets for night one’s ultra section are still available.
An ultra-enthusiastic Bogdanovich is clearly pulling out all the stops to makes this year’s Reggae Sumfest the very definition of the word chic. “We have to show the world how chic Jamaica is. It has the demand,” he said, while comparing Sumfest to Coachella – the celebrity-soaked festival staged annually in the California desert. “Coachella has a helicopter pad now,” he says, with his body language suggesting that Reggae Sumfest could very well roll out something comparable in the near future.
In order to do it (Reggae Sumfest) on the scale that I really want, I have to have international sponsors,” he stated, while boasting that presenting sponsor, Caribbean Airlines, has branded the nose of one of their 737 aircraft with the Sumfest logo.
Sumfest to BBC
The Downsound CEO said he is determined to deliver a “really good product” and part of this mission involves giving artistes their allotted time to perform onstage.
“People are calling me at the last minute. Sponsors are calling and artistes are calling. But this is not about 100 artistes. Each artiste has 40 minutes, at least, and we want everyone to perform their entire set,” Bogdanovich stated, adding that artistes will be given all the tools they need to shine
With his much-advertised “Sumfest To BBC” which refers to headliners Buju Banton, Beres and Chronixx, and not the Jamaican curse word that comes to mind, Bogdanovich feels he has a winner.
Among the other artistes scheduled to perform this year are Spragga Benz, Dexta Daps, Dalton Harris, Protoje, Chris Martin, Shauna Chin, Dovey Magnum, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer. Bogdanovich had a few predictions regarding artiste performance. “Elephant Man is going to be a surprise to a lot of people. Dalton is going to be really good. And Jah9 might be another surprise.” he said.
Meanwhile, Reggae Sumfest has attracted a bit of press from magazines, including Rolling Stone, Billboard and Ebony. Billboard labelled Regae Sumfest as one of 10 Caribbean music festivals that get it right.