Are Soca Artists Wasting Their Time In This Dead Music Industry?
by Mantius Cazaubon (SocaFreak.com)
Dead Music Industry And Soca
Are soca artists wasting their time doing music? Some of the biggest international stars in the game are not making money in this dead music industry. On a lower level, the biggest soca stars like Machel Montano are complaining. I just read an article where Machel Montano is saying that most of the money he is making is going right back into doing videos and so on. If the leader, Machel Montano is lamenting, where does this leave the small soca artist? Is s/he doomed to poverty?
Thousands of songs are released yearly, millions are spent and the music is just given away for free
. Artists do not even bother trying to sell songs because fans expect it to be free. The world, especially West Indians are largely, no longer buying music. Why buy something you can download for free anyway? The artists see this as a marketing effort. If your song goes viral, you are sure to get on a show to perform it and then you will get paid. Sadly, this hardly happens for smaller artists.
So many are getting into the soca game. Computers have made it easy to do so. There are more artists doing soca than ever before. More producers, more songwriters. But why? Why are so many getting into a music industry which clearly won't pay their bills?
99% of these artists are not making a dime from soca music. It's all a front. Most of the artists are depending on other means like their day job to get by. Many of those who win soca monarch competitions, when you look at the way they're living, they appear to be poorer than many of the fans they are singing to. Most times their expenses are much higher than the prize money. If the winners don't make any money, ask yourself how hard it is for those who don't place.
So what's the point of spending all your time and effort in a "business" which will not allow you to take care of your family or ever (let's say) build a house for your kids to live in? What is your retirement plan? Maybe you're doing this for the love of it. Maybe it's "just for the fans" as you love to say. And while this may be a good thing, how about you? Isn't it time you as an artist wake up and find some other means of earning a living?
I know this may seem strange coming from a soca music website. But maybe it is time we keep it real. You, the artist have not made any money for the last ten years. You expect to make money in the eleventh year? This soca game seems like a gamble more than everything else.
Every year soca artists spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to record songs, to create videos, to buy outfits and stage props, hoping to win road march or soca monarch. And every year their income is in the negative. How long is this gonna continue? I'm speaking to artists right now. How much longer?
Some fans may not understand what I'm saying because they love their soca music. I don't think any fan would want to see their favourite artist quit the game? But on a deeper level, you have to understand that it's supposed to be a business for the artists and 99 percent of them are going no where.Soca music is dominated by a few artists
that you can count on two hands. We all know that these are artists
like Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin, Fay-Ann Lyons, Iwer George, Destra Garcia, Saucy Wow, Shurwayne Winchester, Kes, Farmer Nappy, Alison Hinds and Patrice Roberts. And the fact is that some of the names in this list are not doing well. Most of the hundreds of other artists in Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent, Grenada, Barbados, St Lucia, Antigua, Dominica and the rest of the soca nations are individually not making any significant impact on soca. One or two may have a hit every now and then as is the case with Mr Killa with Rolly Polly and Skinny Banton with Saltfish, but that is it. Over 90 percent of the artists in soca, you've never heard about them and new names come up every Carnival season.
Normally, you wouldn't hear artists complaining about how hard it is trying to make a living doing soca. They won't do it because the artist wants to present himself in the best light
. The artist wants to create a bigger than life effect. But the fact is that the artists are not doing as well as most of the fans think they are. Fans shouldn't be fooled by the glitter or the pretty music videos.
Many of the youths are drawn to becoming artists and producers. Maybe they're coming in it for the fame, or maybe they are genuinely there because of their natural talent. Maybe something deep within has drawn them towards the dying or dead music industry. This is sad. Because currently, the music industry won't pay their bills.
Gone are the days when you could sell music CDs. The Internet came and killed it. The only real way to make money in music as an artist is to do live shows. This means that you are at the mercy of promoters. At most shows we see the same artists over and over again. These are the only artists really making any money in this soca game. What's more is that most of the royalties made in the Caribbean is sent overseas due to the fact that we have a culture that plays more foreign music than local or Caribbean music. Even within the smaller islands, more Jamaican and Trinidadian music is played, putting the local artists at a financial disadvantage.
There comes a point when the artist must ask himself
whether he is going to continue to spend thousands upon thousands each year recording soca songs and not be able to pay his bills. The artist must ask herself
whether she is going to do this part time, as a hobby and spend more time pursuing income generating activities. Some people will hasten to say that it is not all about money. Yes, it may not be all about money but it is certainly about money. Without money you're homeless, you can't eat, farless build a future for yourself and children. And soca artists are not only doing this for fun. It is business to them.
So what's the verdict? What are your thoughts? Are soca artists wasting their time and energy doing something that will never bring them success?
There is a saying that one should never quit. But there is also a saying that you can't expect to get a different result by doing the same thing over and over. Is that it? Should artists go about doing things in a different way? And what is that different way? More questions than answers. The international music industry on a whole can't seem to answer the questions. Maybe the Caribbean soca music industry can? Have your say!