Intellectual Property The New Frontier: A look at the Vincentian music industry and its comparative advantage
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September 29, 2006

Intellectual Property The New Frontier: A look at the Vincentian music industry and its comparative advantage


St. Vincent and the Grenadines Music Industry in 2005

Chapter VI


The Vincentian Music Industry, its Intellectual Property, and its newness as an economic concept, and most importantly its potential as a revenue stream with comparative advantage demands unilateral focus and collaboration to maximize the opportunities that may accrue. The exposure of the Vincentian nation state gained by Kevin Lyttle’s success is immeasurable in public relations terms. Kevin Lyttle put his music, his nation, and his region on an international stage, getting the attention of many.{{more}}

The exposure the Soca and Ragga Soca genres attained thru Lyttle, even for a short while, paved the way for Rupee of Barbados to follow, and for music producers like Hip Hop’s Jay Z to start a new label dedicated to world music (21):

Rapper Jay-Z is expanding his Roc-A-Fella empire with the launch of a new record label focused on the budding genre called world music.

The label, to be called Roc La Familia, will be part of Universal Music’s Def Jam Recordings, the world’s largest rap label. Last year Jay-Z was elevated to president of Def Jam after Universal bought out the rapper’s Roc-A-Fella label.

“Everybody talks about the world getting smaller, well we are doing something about it,” said Jay-Z. “Roc La Familia will leverage the extensive resources of Def Jam to introduce fans to cultures that they would not normally be exposed to.”

The new label will encompass such genres as reggae, the increasingly popular rap-reggae hybrid known as reggaeton, calypso, tribal and West Indian.

Michael Ibo Cooper has a more revolutionary view (22):

One has to remember that they never thought that slavery would ever end. The important thing is that we do not let this blind our eyes to the facts that:

• Caribbean culture and innovation has been, is and will always be alive. It has turned adversity to beauty and survived the most traumatic history to date.

• The essence of our appeal is the spice we bring to a drab world and this essence emanates from our spirits

• This indefinable but experiential essence comes from the infinite source so every time “dem tink say we dun, we jus a come”

The time has come for us to advance the intellectual approach to our culture being careful to maintain its essence by not structuring our intellect along paths that were prescribed for us by others but to give credence and respect to the positive aspects of all of our heritage, nurture the potential of our children and youth and encourage our sovereignty. The perception that the Caribbean star that is raised and nurtured in the region before being exposed to the outside world is a nothing, must be erased. The concepts of Third World and under development are history; even the concept that we do not have money is erroneous. Irrespective of the last bastion of colonialism, which is the European language barrier, I call on the various Caribbean Governments, the private sector, Caricom and the CRNM to realize that:

• The technology is now accessible and we have the genius to master and even manufacture it

• The money is available and is usually squandered in archaic thinking

• The expertise is available now more than ever because the information age has led to quicker access and higher trained individuals

• Our ways are our ways and we do not have to keep on maintaining the ways of others

• We can develop the Caribbean star

Joseanne Leonard is adamant that (23):

We must nurture, respect and embrace our cultural wealth and begin to believe in ourselves and the things that we create as having real value. Without this belief in the creators and entrepreneurs of our intellectual property, we are fooling ourselves that our creative industries hold any real promise for wealth creation. No amount of talk about ICT’s or trade talks to optimize external markets will make an iota of difference if we believe in a 50 cent or Billy Joel version made in the Caribbean as our ticket to success.

Although he is not here in person, I’d like to commend the wisdom and commitment of one of our own international superstars Eddy Grant, my good friend and colleague who created a concept called Ringbang. In his own words: ” I recognized the degree to which the people of the Caribbean, in particular the youth, had become culturally dependent on other states, so I introduced an original word, philosophy and music to the world…Ringbang. The simple tenets of which are:

• We must learn to LOVE OURSELVES FIRST



Our uniqueness may give us a distinctive edge but it is our belief in ourselves that will ensure our survival and that of future generations.