Big Mistake: Have Soca Artists Abandoned Their True Fans? The EDM Craze.

by Mantius Cazaubon (

EDM vs Soca

EDM vs Soca

Are soca artists and producers making a huge career mistake? In an effort to make soca music more internationally palatable they seem to be abandoning their niche market of West Indian people. They seem to be deserting the very people who have put them on the level that they are at, in an attempt at converting Americans, Europeans and the world at large. This brings to mind the old creole adage which translates to "leaving what you have already seen for what you haven't seen".

Soca is clearly being watered down more and more to make it sound like EDM (Electronic Dance Music). It's losing its identity. The question is whether or not it has gone overboard.

Are we trying to sell ice to an Eskimo? Are we trying to sell EDM music to people who already have an abundance of that music? If so, isn't this a terrible mistake?

Caribbean music creators should be true to themselves, be authentic and instead, sell a product which portrays who they are to the world. Do we really think this EDM-influenced soca craze will reap benefits?

Furthermore, I do not think that largely, artists are doing a good job with this attempt at Electronic Dance Music. Artists are still using the same Caribbean dialect in many of the songs anyway. This is dialect that American and European people do not understand. I guess it's hard to be someone else.

Let's take a look at power soca. Very few power soca songs have been released for the 2015 carnival season. Clearly, most artists are focused on groovy soca because they feel that this is what it takes to go international. Apparently, every artist and producer wants to replicate the success of Bunji Garlin's Differentology. The departure from power soca has been happening for a few years but it's become more defined.

Whether you want to jump high or low, power soca is the real driving force behind carnival. Not groovy. We love our groovy, but without good power soca songs, the lovers of carnival and soca will never feel satisfied or fulfilled. Why is power soca being largely disregarded by artists and producers? My answer is that they "wanna make money". And I can't blame them for this. Who doesn't want to make money? I most certainly do. But in an attempt to make the real big money, they might end up making none. The lesson is to never ignore the low-lying fruit.

There is a best-selling author, Seth Godin who writes and speaks about a concept of tribes. In a
nutshell, his thinking is that currently, in this new music industry brought about by the advent of the Internet, to be successful, artists and musicians need to focus on catering to a particular "tribe" of people, instead of trying to be all things to everyone. A tribe is a group of people with specific interests. According to Seth, it's a great time for independent artists and musicians because in this era, like never before, they can have an audience. They can harness the power of the internet, including social media to reach people who are already interested in what they're offering. In my mind, this is exactly what needs to be done. Instead, soca artists are currently trying to reach everybody. By trying to reach everybody, do you know who you end up reaching? The answer is obviously "Nobody".

With so much focus on Electronic Dance Music, are soca creators inadvertently saying to fans that soca is not good enough? As a long term business plan, this is a mistake. If EDM is what's cool then as a music listener, maybe what one should do is cut right to the chase and listen to EDM, not soca. Wouldn't you say?

Every year thousands of tourists come to the Caribbean. They spend millions for a Caribbean experience. They are not coming here because we are offering a metropolitan experience. They come because we offer what is unique to us. In the same way, they will more readily buy authentic Caribbean music from us as opposed to a musical creation that screams "Fake!" We will have a hard time trying to beat authentic EDM artists at their own game.

I'm not saying that being a soca artist means that you can't delve into other genres. That would be a dumb thing to say. But don't ignore the culture of the Caribbean "massive". Remember who is listening. Make a loud noise among West Indians and the world will hear it. Or maybe they won't. But it will give you a better chance at making a mark.

Soca artists, songwriters, producers and other music creators need to ask themselves who their true fans are and then cater to these fans. Alienating your real fans and supporters is a huge mistake. Niche marketing is key. Focus on your niche. Be authentic. Be genuine. As said by the great Oscar Wilde, "Be yourself because everyone else is taken".

There is nothing wrong with soca. The problem is obscurity. The problem is that not enough people on planet earth know about the genre.

What say you?

Comments for Big Mistake: Have Soca Artists Abandoned Their True Fans? The EDM Craze.

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Jan 05, 2015
Taking sand to the beach
by: Calypsokid

Good question. Evolution is alive and well. Had it not been for the likes of Lord Shorty, Merchant, Maestro, Melody, Spoiler, Kitchener, Sparrow and a host of others, there would be no Soca? No?? Just as Western Africa's tribal beats found their thread into the fabric of Caribbean music, influenced by classical, British Brass Marching Bands, Spanish Flamenco and a host of other credible ethnic contributors, Kaiso, Ex Tempo, Parang, Calypso, (should I go on?), Soca didn't arrive without borrowing and fusing. So EDM with naturally find it's audience, which to my biased likes, will not find me......People in general don't listen to music, they obey it, they let the pounding of the bass drum and droning bass mesmerize them to frenzy.... and dance??? Dancing to EDM is like a scene from HELL to me....where's the message? Subliminal darkness? Calypso, like Kaiso, Picong, ExTempo and the golden years of Soca was for intelligent listeners (IMHO), there was connection with the people, like the chantuelle and the griot, they communicated a message to the people. Well it seems that the people are ignoring a messenger with something interesting or important to say. I find it harder to remain with the music that I love and follow, especially here in the States. So it appears that the DJ is the new Pied Piper, commanding huge audiences with hypnotic dissonance. Reminds me of the final scenes in Francis Ford Coppolas' Apocalypse Now! Just mindless madness. Do the people that gyrate and spin to EDM even know who's making this music? And where is the longevity to those Artistes? Off to obscurity. Sounds like a rant, the parades' gone by.

Jan 08, 2015
Appreciate your comment, Calypsokid
by: Mantius Cazaubon (Soca Freak)

Hmmm, Calypsokid. Interesting. The debate continues. I think the discussion is necessary.

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