Soca Artist, The Problem Is Not Your Song. Your Problem Is Obscurity.

by Mantius Cazaubon

Fireman Hooper, 2014 Saint Vincent and The Grenadines Soca Monarch

Fireman Hooper, 2014 Saint Vincent and The Grenadines Soca Monarch

Many people think that a good song is what it really takes to make it in the soca industry. This is false. Since Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin, Fay Ann Lyons, Destra, Iwer George and the other big names are very visible, they can sing almost anything, no matter how good or bad, and it will get some level of mileage. They are on the radar, unlike the small artist. No one is waiting to hear what the largely unknown artist is going to release. But hundreds of thousands are waiting on names like Machel and Bunji, leaders in the game. They will flock to YouTube to hear every song they release.

The problem of the small artist is NOT product. Not song. The problem is OBSCURITY. Obscurity is defined as "the state of being unknown, inconspicuous, or unimportant." No one knows him, neither is he seen by the masses as being important to the industry. No one knows her song or whether she even exists. That's the real issue. Many of the small artists have songs which are much better than what the big names in soca are singing. But they are obscure. And because they are obscure, they cannot make any significant mark on soca music.

This applies to everything in life and business, not only to music. Does KFC fry better chicken than your mom? Hell no. But KFC is a multi-billion dollar company. Does Mc Donald's make a better burger? Hell no. But Mc Donald's is known all around the world. Their food doesn't taste better, but since no one knows your mother, no one is coming for dinner or buying. Since no one knows the vendor in your local shop, no one is patronizing.

Lesser known artists and producers shouldn't believe that because they are not making it, it automatically means that their product is substandard. There is nothing wrong with your song. Your material is good. But a good product means nothing. On rare occasions your song may be so good and its video may be so remarkable that it cuts through and is heard amidst the noise. Skinny Banton's Soak It Good and Mr Killa's Rolly Polly are perfect examples.

We all know of songs which made it big in their country of origin but are never or hardly ever heard out there. These songs win road march and soca monarch in the small islands but never get played on the big foreign radio stations or played by the big DJs. Songs like Grenadian, Squeeze Head's Turbo Charge and Vincentian, Fireman Hooper's Unruly are huge in their country, but did they ever make it big in Trinidad, North America, the UK and the rest of the Caribbean? No. These songs have all the right ingredients. They are great products. They are much better than a lot of the big hits made by the big guns, but will never see the light of day. This proves that it's not about the product but the visibility. Obscurity is the real issue.

There are many songs in Trinidad and Tobago itself sang by young and new artists which are much better than those being sang by names like Iwer George. But do they ever make it? Do they ever get airplay? An emphatic no! You never hear about these talented artists. So many artists and producers think that something must be wrong with their song. Nothing is wrong with your music! You're tweaking a bit too much.

What smaller artists have to work on is becoming known and getting attention. S/he needs to be remarkable. The word remarkable simply means that you have to create something or do something that people are going to naturally make remarks about. Get people to talk about you but make sure it's ethical. The upcoming artist needs to harness the power of the Internet as much as possible to gain visibility. Use social media like Facebook to get attention, build a YouTube following. Do something. Hustle like crazy! The problem is not with your song. The problem is not with your product. Your problem is OBSCURITY.

Comment below.

Squeeze Head - Turbo Charge

Comments for Soca Artist, The Problem Is Not Your Song. Your Problem Is Obscurity.

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Jan 13, 2015
Truth be told.
by: Producer

It's true. I totally agree. Great article.

Jan 13, 2015
some what
by: Anonymous

The game is changing. Last year was the turning point.

Jan 15, 2015
Preserve Soca
by: Anonymous

Obscurity is one of the needles in the haystack. There are many other issues that are hurting the Soca industry.

1. Offering music for free might sound super but it is not; there is truly no need to buy a CD if one can get it at no charge plus share it with others. Why buy the cow if you can get the milk free? This practice kills profit and has no place in business. There is no way to completely stop fans from sharing their purchases but if artists give it away they are losing profits.

2. It is not what you sing but who you know. Bunji’s wife is Faye-Ann Lyons and her father is Super Blue (Blue Boy) - (Austin Lyons). Mr. Lyons may have connections. How many others are associated in this way? This behavior of mostly helping someone who knows someone else should not exist in anything we do in life but it does so we have to find a workaround.

3. Soca music brings life to a party and joy to life itself but it may not be marketed appropriately. The vulgarisms about sex and bumpers in lyrics and dirty dancing as if genders are performing in their matrimonial beds, while many of those in the videos may not be marriage material because they may still young and need brain development, are no worse than other genre selling sex.

4. Many believe that sex sells. So loose and lewd acts of young women, with their permission, are hammered in videos. Well, if men are attracted to women, the videos are being advertised mostly to men. While men may not be buying much music they still listen to free copies and enjoy all the perks from the showcase in the videos. Some women may view it as females allowing themselves to be exploited by men and may not buy a CD simply because of that but yet, still listen to free copies of songs. These are only two possible reasons for slow sales. Getting to the bottom of why people are not buying music that is no worse than hip-hop/rap when it comes to openness (leaving nothing sacred), is a key factor. Perhaps there is a need to make some of the videos genderless or cut the improper behaviors.

5. An argument could be that hip-hop/rap are explicit with obscenities, drug use, illegal violence, financial gains and material success are hyped but yet this genre of music once flew off the shelves. It is true that the lyrics of hip-hop/rap may come from real life situations and artists use music to express the pain and violations within the system that many can relate to it. Personally, I believe anything Americans do, not just music, is cling to worldwide. American music, no matter the type will sell faster than Soca between the sheets because universally we, as people, create a bias with everything American. We need to focus on everything Caribbean and spend some time and money buying our own first.

6. America seems to be a trailblazer for almost anything and many people just go with the flow of what Americans are doing. Until we understand that talent is amongst all of us and stop enabling stupid thoughts about America and or Americans; only then can we lift the ban that is keeping us back. Caribbean folks, including many other foreigners are to be blamed for that. We too can be leaders. We have got to stop looking to others to pave the way and start doing things our way to get where we belong. It is easier said than done but it is achievable if only we would stop looking down on ourselves for others to look up to us.

7. When we hear of the success of some hip-hop/rap artists, it is not their music alone that makes them successful, they start many other businesses, tours, endorsements and the like that brings monetary success. Soca artists have got to stop relying on the mere sales of music alone. They must get out there and work harder to be on stage not just on CDs, get support for commercials; sell their household names in forms of products and services. It would be nice for artists to sell fete and bacchanal weaves, wigs (whether or not they use hair extensions), creams, perfumes, purses, wallets, clothing, taxi/limousine services, after-fete drive home service, teach a Soca class, start a small restaurant, create sport drinks, etc. (all in their names). Nothing in life is easy. Good food cooks slowly and so should good Soca; slowly but surely.

8. If Soca artists are not making money on the sales of music then the question would be, "How can they start anything else?" We all learn to creep before walking, start small. Too many artists feel that if they are making music they will automatically become rich. Not so fast! They must use the same creative juices invested in music to strike up other business ideas and not forgetting their household name, use it. After all, they will not sing forever and ever and will have to find something else to do so why not start sooner than later.

9. It is not your income but your outcome. It is not how much money you make but what you do with it. If artists succumb to our material world, having too many baby mamas and living a life beyond their reach, they will never have enough money for anything. Live a normal life while paying attention to how your money is being spent, can help to better invest your hard earn dollars. Be smart; do not give up your money for a whole lot of nothing: A few seconds or minutes of sex for what is perceived as ‘nice bodies’, useless earthly things and generally wasting money. Awful waste brings awful wants.

10. Soca artists may all want international growth but the minute you leave your yard and go abroad, you subject yourself to be taken over by greedy producers and promoters that will reap the sweets while you give up your rights to your own music. Ponder that for a minute. Your songs will be sliced and diced and there will be nothing you can do because you Okay-ed it by signing your music away.

11. Musical artists in America may make more money but many do not control the flow of their own creations, they give up their legal rights and sell their souls to the devils in the name of money. In the end they owe the tax man, file bankruptcy, some do not pass ‘Go’; they are hauled straight to jail while some may kill themselves. The bigger bosses have these artists rolling under their feet. Be careful what you wish for. Go slow and earn, rather than fast and lose all your money and mind.

12. Take Reggae music for example, we now see that all of a sudden some American artists are joining the band wagon in singing Reggae songs to a genre that was once rejected in America. Can they really join in on the Reggae Gravy Train? Sure, many will allure them with open arms. Soca will take its course just the same as Reggae but Soca artists must be well prepared.

13. Many say that Soca is too fast and they cannot dance to it or understand the lyrics. Not true! Soca artists need not change the pace or lyrics. We tolerate other music without change; the least others can do is accept yours without altering. There are many fast-paced dance music (disco and dance songs) and many songs in different languages that are still listened to and enjoyed. For example, Spanish music that some may not understand is listened to by many non-speakers of Spanish. Music has one universal language. We all know music when we hear it no matter what language or speed. So cut it. Humans adapt to their surroundings so too can they take on Soca. The beat and lyrics will perk up your circumstances if you give it a try. I say to critics, try it and in no time your body will be jumping to the sweet harmonious sounds of lovable and embraceable Caribbean Soca.

14. Let us not get beside ourselves; even those who seem to be taking the leading light in the Soca spotlight are still not making sums of cash as we may think. The light may be shinning bright and they may be sweating but yet the money is still funny. Let us get out there and rock Soca by making changes in the way Soca is marketed instead of talking and waiting for others to make that change. Become the man/woman in the mirror.

Turnaround Mentality:

• Do not let Soca be the gist of Carnival, let it reflect our lives all year round. Some marching on the street Carnival sounds may not be liked for daily listening or dancing at a party or club. My personal Soca music is separated into three: 1. Carnival Soca (Fast Soca songs), 2. General Soca (not as upbeat in sound) and 3. Soca Hits (need I say more). I am only one audience that feels the need to split my Soca collection into three. Perhaps, this little idea can be used to target specific audiences.

• Don’t wait for the locals to play your songs (team up together and let Soca rumble and tumble worldwide). Start a Soca Internet Radio as a TEAM (Together Each Achieve More).

• We must leave jealousy and grudgeful on the way side, there is no room for that in the Soca industry. All artists are in this together but at the same token, all cannot be on top; or they will all fall hard. Take your piece and do well with it.

• Disc Jockeys (DJs) need profits too and if an artist thinks they will promote their music, they have the next think coming. They are mixing music and selling it for themselves. That’s like waiting for someone to give you a good business idea to get rich while they get nothing in return. It is not going to happen. Stop touching the snooze button. Wake up! No one else cares to promote your music without profit, why should you?

• Take on the Do It Yourself (DIY) attitude, it may sound hard but if you work at it you too can be promoting, selling, touring and getting the additional benefits that come with the household name of being an artist.

Take Charge and Good Luck.

Soca too Shall Rise!

I am not an artist, I simply sensitive about Soca.

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