SVG making strides in  music industry
October 26, 2006

SVG making strides in music industry

During the last year of Independence perhaps the most significant development in the music industry was the recent establishment of the Vincentian Organisation of Composers, Producers and Publishers (VOCAP). It signals that artistes are beginning to view the music industry as a sector that requires as much business savvy as it does talent.

Artistes such as Kevin Lyttle and Marlon Roudette who have burst onto the international scene have given the wider world a taste of Vincentian flavour which fans just can’t get enough of. But they would also tell of the tangled web of business contracts, promotions and sales, which also make up the music business. {{more}}

As this country celebrates it’s 27th year as an independent nation, Music Education Officer Joffre Venner has reiterated the need for local artistes to ensure that they educate themselves about the music industry. He emphasised that while this country has talent beyond compare they need to take a serious look at the business aspect of music if they want to thrive. Venner pointed out that music is not just about “key boards and vocals” but deals with copyright and other legal matters.

The Music Officer said that many artistes who don’t have good lawyers to interpret the legalities get “thrown into a sea with music sharks” who are anxious to take advantage of their contracts.

Venner envisions the music industry in St Vincent exploding in the next five years and believes that with competitions like Digicel Rising Stars more eyes would be on this country as the talent of youngsters shine through.

The Music Officer noted that on returning from the University of the West Indies in 1985, there were no studios, and artistes would travel overseas to record their music.

He said that this was an expensive venture but remembers the Kingstown Chorale doing some of their recordings by bringing technicians from Barbados and Trinidad to lay down their music.

Venner noted that it was only since 1987 that Douglas Defrietas established the first recording studio called “BDS” which is still located at Dorsetshire Hill. He remembers the group Almo with their song “Don’t Talk About Going Home” being one of the first songs ever recorded in a studio in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Music Officer said that with the advancement of technology more studios emerged from producers such as Adrian Bailey, Junior Sutherland, Willis Williams and Kenneth “Skates” Alleyne. He however expressed amazement with the proliferation of home studios that use computers alone instead of live musical instruments.

Venner said while this progression was good, there was a need for more people in the music industry to understand the theoretical as well as the practical aspects of music.

He welcomed local artistes and producers experimenting with different styles of music, noting that this opens up appeal to people in the wider world.

The well-known musician chanted: “These are exciting times. Vincentians seem to have the ability to fuse different styles but still maintain our unique sound. We hear it in music such as Ragga Soca and this sound is now appealing to the wider audience. We however have to remember that many American artistes don’t just rely on their raw talent but attend schools and Universities in the performing arts to hone their craft.”

Venner also noted that pan music is another sector of music where there has been an upsurge, but noted that pan groups needed to conduct themselves in a more business like manner since they were also getting the sponsorship to support them.

Also sharing his view about local music was the Maestro Patrick Prescod who pointed out that Vincentian music has its own “nuance and own particular rhythmic interest”.

He further explained that Vincy music captures the ears of people the world over and has a distinctive flavour. He recalled that back then few people recorded their music and only groups such as the Laternaires produced LP’s in the 70s compared to today when many singers are putting their music on the market with CD’s.

He noted that this upsurge in local music is primarily due to the advancement in technology but expressed the need for folk music to be kept alive with the same use of this technology.

He expressed disappointment that the average young person was only listening and being influenced by Jamaican and American music and had forgotten the intricate folk music.

He expounded: “It is sad that many folk songs created are now just lost memories. But thanks to people like Alban Henry and Chester Rodgers folk music lives on we need to continue with the traditional that makes us truly Vincentian”.

Prescod also desired to see young people learn the fundamentals and rudiments of music to have the music sounding sharper and clearer rather than just relying on ear alone.

Meanwhile, Studio Producer Junior Sutherland who can also attest to the ascension in music production in the country also emphasised that there needed to be more quality production.

Sutherland who has produced Soca artistes such as Jamesy P and Luta also agrees that Vincentian music has a distinctive harmony.

He noted that artistes however need to learn music so that their work would reflects a higher standard.

He stated: “Vincentian music is unique within it self but we have to strive to be better and that means understanding the industry and all it has to offer.”

Sutherland also announced that he would be launching a Youth Development Programme where some 18 students would learn different aspects of the entertainment business.