"Sending your song for review is like auditioning for X Factor"
You have done all the hard work. Writing and composing the song, recording and mixing and now it's ready for distribution. You are proud of your creation and so should everyone else. So, you send it out to blogs and publications for a music review.
This is where the indie artist has to realize that they are now in almost the same position as if auditioning for X Factor. There is no guarantee that the 'judges' i.e. the reviewers are going to see your creation in the same light.
The feedback you receive may be encouraging or it may be negative and not presented in a way that is very palatable either. What you do next is important to your future development and can damage or grow the following and fanbase you have worked hard to build up.
In this blog article, I'll look at negative reviews as these are the ones that need to be carefully managed and are the ones that lead to a better understanding of your music. Assuming the review is from a rational source and not a social media troll (although it may feel that way).
How to Turn Bad Reviews into a Positive Experience
Bad reviews can cut deep. So initially, let it out! Get upset, angry or whatever it makes you feel. You need to go through this in order to end up with a positive experience and be in a position to re-evaluate your creation.
Don't take the bait. I have found it best not to make any comment about negative music reviews while you're still in the hurt phase as this can be the period when you say something you may regret. If you do reply be polite as this is just one person's view.
Bad reviews really can be a learning experience. I have had many and at the start, you give it the 'they don't know what the f@ck they're talking about'. But after I let the hurt subside a little I take a look at the song again. Putting aside purely personal dislikes, I often find that there is something in the criticism and this is what should be taken away and used to improve future productions.
Everybody's tastes are different. All music is such a personal thing and likes and dislikes vary widely. This is something I have come to terms with long ago. It should be easier for you to accept that someone just doesn't like your style of music because there will always be someone that loves it.
Bad publicity is better than no publicity. This is a saying that has been around for a long time and makes even more sense in this social media algorithm driven world. One of the things that help with Google ranking is backlinks (links between websites). Sending out reviews and getting them published with a link to your websites helps with SEO. So even if you receive a bad review you can have the last laugh by knowing they are helping with your ranking.
It's your music so play it if you want to. At the end of the day, it's your music, your creation, so be proud. Rise above any criticism, learn any lessons and make any action you take a positive one. A bad review doesn't mean all your music is bad.
Take a lesson from the world of literature. Best selling author James Patterson became the Guinness World Record holder as the author with the most No. 1 New York Times best-sellers. His first book was rejected 31 times by publishers. What do critics know?
Miss Megoo (Megumi Mesaku)
Plays to a Mafia & Fluxy Rock steady Riddim
The marketing gurus say the secret to success is getting your music out there and promoting it for all it's worth. However, for the indie artist, a lot of the promotion will be undertaken by themselves. Some of this will be through social media via pictures and videos on platforms like Instagram and YouTube. If you have a following then showcasing your music at gigs is another possibility. You can also send demos to radio stations and record labels but it is hard to stand out from the crowd.
However, one of the oldest tried and tested methods to get close to the public and possible passing influencers is performing on the street or busking. You may think this is the last resort but, some of the music world’s biggest stars started off performing on the street and busking.
Ed Sheeran one of the world's best selling artists began by sleeping on couches of friends and busking on the London underground (metro) before gaining the attention of an influencer.
While at university, Tracy Chapman would sing in the sought after Harvard Square that required a permit to perform there. A fellow student Brian Koppelman brought her to the attention of his father who ran a record label. That was the break she needed and she was eventually signed by Elektra Records and the rest is history.
Before Beale Street Blues Boy became “B.B. King” he started off just as a wannabe kid playing the guitar on the streets of Mississippi for some spare change. King would eventually perform all over America gaining fans wherever he went and become one of the greatest blues guitarists of all time.
So, street performing or busking can deliver, if you are lucky.
In many cities, street performers are seen as a tourist attraction and when it comes to street musicians and singers there are some exceptional artists out there. However, the reasons for being a street musician can be varied:
Musicians just starting out looking for a break
Established musicians who still like street performing
Music students wanting to raise a bit of extra cash
Backpacking musicians wanting to subsidise their trips
and many other reasons. With technology shrinking equipment, street performers can now have surprisingly good backing and PA with them which allows a better overall experience for the public. Even the payment of gratuities has not been left behind in the technological revolution. With the use of POS (point of sale) machines or dedicated text or phone numbers used by the street musicians or buskers for the public to make donations.
Street performing goes back hundreds of years but in the 21st century, it is still relevant. A good street performer will be captured on many mobile phones. The images or videos uploaded to platforms like Instagram and YouTube where they could be shared over and over again. The street performer can now be a YouTube star by capturing the public's imagination and so use this to their benefit.
So the next time you pass a street performer you may be looking at a star of the future. Ed Sheeran, Tracy Chapman and B.B. King are testaments to that.
"So is the album concept a thing of the past?"
The way consumers listen and buy music has changed. There are so many platforms like Spotify, iTunes and Deezer available for downloading and streaming music. Although CDs are clinging on to existence and there is a revival of vinyl, digital listening is now the norm. With albums, consumers can now listen and purchase on a track by track basis. What does that mean for us creators of music?
Albums and CDs
There was a time when an album could be sold off the back of a hit single from the album meaning the other tracks did not necessarily have to be of the same quality. It was quite common for some tracks to be 'filler' tracks i.e. they would not stand on their own as singles. However, often, this did not stop the album from being in demand.
Nowadays, the digital platforms list albums by tracks. The consumer can listen to individual tracks and purchase the tracks they like without purchasing the whole album. So is the album concept a thing of the past? Well, an album is still recognised in the industry as having intrinsic value. There is still recognition by the top award organisations and even having an album nominated gives the artist tangible benefits.
However, for the typical indie artist trying to get their music out there, track by track purchase means that for the production of an album there is a greater burden on production and song quality. Unless the album is a concept album where each track has a part to play in the unfolding of the concept and therefore need not be capable of standing alone, each album track now has to be seen as a potential single. This means that as an artist or producer you really need to take a view on the return on investment of time and money in the production of an album.
Many commentators state that for success and growing your fan base getting content out there should be the main objective. So is taking 18 months to put an album together really worth the effort? Many artists recognizing the continued status of an album, especially if you are a touring artist, have gone down the road of EPs. This can make a lot of sense as producing four or five tracks is a lot quicker than a full album.
An EP or full album is always a great basis for a tour or launch event and a great addition to the merchandise table.
At the end of the day, the decision whether to produce an album depends on where you are in your journey and the resources available in respect of time and money.
The options are definitely worth looking at. Is it better to produce a single every month and keep your fan base engaged? Is an EP every six months better than an album every eighteen months?
In this new consumer-driven industry the market is now track based. The consumer can now make their own albums with the advent of playlists. Playlist curators now hold some sway on platforms especially those with large followings. Although artists also have this facility using services like Spotify for Artists.
Albums still have a place and I don't think they will disappear. They are a means of telling a bigger story and maybe this is how creators of music need to adapt them. After all, nobody would buy just one chapter of a novel and even if they could, hopefully, that would lead to the purchase of the remainder of the work.
... a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can cause a hurricane in Texas
I'm starting off a little deep with this post. Chaos Theory and The Butterfly Effect so bear with me.
According to Wikipedia Chaos Theory is:
... a branch of mathematics focusing on the behaviour of dynamical systems...
... At any given time, a dynamical system has a state...
... The butterfly effect describes how a small change in one state can result in large differences in a later state, e.g. a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can cause a hurricane in Texas.I am definitely not going any deeper other than to say I've always been interested in this particular theory because, in my view, it goes a little way to underpinning philosophical statements like, 'what goes around comes around' and 'everyone can make a difference'. It would seem to suggest that small actions can indeed lead to greater outcomes. So as an individual, whose is part of the world socio-economic system, maybe I can take some small action that one day may lead to something substantial.
Besides the butterfly effect, I was always struck by how, whenever there was a catastrophe of some sort, there was always a story of how someone's bad luck or good fortune was the result of a specific decision they had made. For example, missing a flight, changing flights, arriving early or arriving late just everyday decisions. So it would seem that every decision we make has an impact.
This thought led to a songwriting idea and led me to write the song 'Every Decision'. Here are the lyrics from the bridge:
Every decision that I make still shapes my destiny
Will today by the day things change maybe I’ll finally live my dreams
Every decision that I make what will they mean for me
Live today like it’s the only day I’ll see how life turns out for me
Soon to be released
Although the butterfly effect, mathematically relates to certain types of systems, the concept of small actions leading to greater outcomes is something that exists in many cultures. When songwriting, I do find that one idea can lead to another with the connections not obvious to me but I'm still happy to have found the lyrics.
So I have learnt not to force the process if things aren't going well with the song. Sometimes I just leave the song and do something else and somehow the next line pops into my head when I least expect it.
The butterfly effect is something that gives me encouragement when songwriting. I know to just take one small action whether it is writing the title, writing the keyword of the song anything to set the songwriting process in motion and leave it at that. Knowing that something more substantial will come about eventually. It may not turn out to be what I want but I can make that decision when the time comes.
So ending on a philosophical note, maybe the butterfly effect is something to recognise in all aspects of life. Take that small step, take that first action and who knows where it may lead.
I hope 2019 will be a year of great music, success, health, peace and love for everyone.
Last year was a year of change from a personal perspective and reggae also gained some formal acknowledgement.
For me, I decided I wanted to spend more time on music so made some decisions that allowed me to achieve this. As an indie, as I have said before, there are so many hats that need to be worn. This makes time management so important so having more time has really helped. This is a decision we all have to make at some time. So you need to ask yourself 'do you really love making music'.
In April I released 'Warrior' which reached number one in Trend Cty Radio Top 40 charts voted for by listeners
I decided that I wanted to add something extra to my releases and the best way to achieve this was by collaboration. To give the songs more individuality I felt using different vocalists was the best way forward. I could still create the sound I wanted but have the vocalist add their own creativity to the mix.
I had a song that did well in a songwriting competition that I never got round to recording and felt this was the time. It ended up as an RnB track entitled 'Unattainable'
It featured Tony Mac on vocals who did a great job adding his own bit of magic to the track.
Autumn / Winter 2018
After the collaboration on unattainable, which worked out well. I continued on the follow-up single 'ONE' with a collaboration with Jackie Scales. I was looking for a vocalist who could give the vocals an urban feel and Jackie did a great job. This was something I could not have achieved if I had voiced the song myself.
This was also the time where I had to make a decision about this blog. I had toyed with it but not put in the effort. However, I decided it was a great platform to say what I wanted to say and hopefully engage with likeminded music lovers. So let me know what you think.
Then in November Reggae was added to a list of international cultural treasures by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation). In UNESCO's opinion reggae music's
"contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual".
UNESCO also added: "The basic social functions of the music - as a vehicle for social commentary, a cathartic practice, and a means of praising God - have not changed, and the music continues to act as a voice for all."
For those of us who love reggae music, this was a long overdue recognition, but great to see nonetheless.
So, the year ended with another song in the pipeline. This is another collaboration and should be released the end of January or the beginning of February 2019. More details to follow with an interview with the featured vocalist.
Keep reading this blog and all will be revealed soon.
I hope 2019 turns out to be a great year for reggae music and also for you personally.
As an indie, you have probably listened to successful artists and wondered what is so special about what some of them do. You have heard plenty of great songs by unknown artists that are much better. The truth is unless you are really lucky, it's all about marketing and promotion. Your music needs to be found and heard by your prospective fans so that you can build your fan base and get noticed by the right people.
To be found you need to market your music which means connecting with listeners who may turn into fans. One way is to engage the services of specialist music marketing companies if you have the budget. Otherwise, there are things that you can do to self promote your music.
Before starting out on self-promotion you need to have a theme or musical story which will be consistent across the platforms you use. This will enable you to start to establish a recognizable brand that you can cultivate to help you stand out from the crowd. So focus on these two things:
What is unique about you or your music? This is what sets you apart from others in your genre.
The uniqueness factor should be authentic. To cultivate this and for it to be something that fans can relate to, it should be authentic. It is easier to maintain consistency across platforms and continue the story if it is real.
Once you have the story you want to tell you now have the basis of your brand. A visual logo helps to translate this idea or feeling and helps brand recognition and brand building.
Your Musician Website
In order to maximise your marketing effort, you need somewhere that is home base. Somewhere to drive traffic to, somewhere you control. Having your musician website is the ideal focal point. This is where you can have exclusive content, sell your music or merchandise and most importantly build your fanbase by growing your email list. Your email list is a direct route of communication to your fans and can be much more personal than other forms of communication.
Make Music Videos
Firstly, It is now an inescapable fact that in this one click world that visual content is king. In the world of the scrolling screen having visual content will vastly increase the chances of engagement compared with a text link. Secondly, this is a great way to define your brand and set you apart from the competition. It doesn't need to be a big financial investment there are services that offer affordable visuals, for example, rotorvideos that use clips and your own music to create high-quality videos.
Set Up Your Own Video Channel
Youtube is still one of the biggest databases in the world and still the go-to platform for music. If you reach a certain level of subscribers then revenue sharing becomes possible. Having your own channel is a great way of having somewhere to direct your fans and share your videos. It also makes it easier to subscribe and engage with the channels of influencers in your niche.
Engage With Influencers
As well as engaging with fans engaging with influencers could take your following and visibility to another level. For your niche, do a search for the top 10 channels or pages and starting engaging by adding value by giving constructive comment. Something more than just 'awesome' or 'nice song'. By adding something meaningful this will attract the notice of other commenters and the influencer who will be tempted to check out your content which may lead to more views, shares and other engagement.
Paying to gain reach, when you have a product to sell, is something that is going to become standard on many platforms. Facebook, in particular, has already changed its algorithm to make it difficult for 'Pages' to have any worthwhile reach without 'boosting' a post.
Depending on your expertise in using music promotion apps or platforms, you may feel that it is more effective to engage marketing professionals. There are many music promotion services out there so do your research. They need to be offering something more than ' I have 1 million followers'. So what! None of them may like your music. So look out for these points.
What are the artist reviews saying about their services? Are there any independent reviews?
What are they offering other than tweeting, posting to their followers? For example, interviews, blog or magazine placement, playlisting etc.
Are any placements permanent?
What platforms will their music promotion cover?
What is their reach, national or global and where is their main catchment?
Can they offer a targeted promotion for your genre?
Is the music promotion campaign organic (Important!)
Having the above in place will get you off to a good start but will still need plenty of hard work and perseverance. But if you believe in your music you will succeed.
Jah9 Born Janine Cunningham, from Falmouth, Trelawny, Jamaica. She grew up in a family where the deeper meanings and injustices of life could be reasoned and this aided her inner growth.
Her father was a preacher and her mother a social worker. She subsequently moved to Kingston and at the University of the West Indies, her exposure to the teachings of Rastafari and roots reggae dub music was the catalyst for her to take the next step in her music career. Janine adopted her childhood nickname, Jah9, as she learnt the real significance of the word “Jah” and the number “9” (the symbol of creation and womb of the universe, divine completeness, universal love).
Her music career began to take shape driven by her spirituality and her own 'Jazz on Dub' style of reggae. With assistance and guidance from keyboardist Sheldon Bernard, the legendary Beres Hammond, and producer Donovan Bennett she released her first singles. This led to her debut album entitled “New Name” which was produced by Rory ‘Stone Love’ Gilligan.
'We Ready Fi Di Feeling"
The song immediately presents celestial like horns calling for the attention of the listener and Jah 9 gets straight to the point from the first line 'Tell me what you ready for' and then the song goes straight into the chorus laying down the core message for the listener.
'We ready fi di feeling no'
'We never gonna be let down no'
'We ready fi go seal it no'
This immediately sets a positive vibe drawing the listener in who is then primed for Jah9 to then expand on the message.
The lyrics set out and reason the challenges and strengths that can be experienced before you can be a soldier to 'Battle for a Brighter Day'. Jah9 drives the sentiment with a genuine quality that makes the listener feel these are not just lyrics but a heartfelt call to action. The driving riddim helps to underpin this call to action and Jah9 uses the energy of the track in her vocals so that the lyrics feel meaningful even before you absorb the message behind them.
Jah9's love of dub is reflected in the production. Mainly drum and bass with some colour by the piano and Hammond sounding organ give a platform and space for Jah9's lyrics to be clearly heard and not clash with the riddim. This style is reminiscent of dub instrumentals from the seventies and eighties like Bunny Lee's Aggrovators but the electronic bass gives the riddim a modern feel.
This is a song that I would listen to with no distractions so that I could fully absorb the lyrics. You need to play it several times to capture the essence and meaning of the individual lines. Jah9 does not pad out this song all the lyrics are meant to impart knowledge or enlighten. For fans of Jah9 and fans of conscious reggae, this song delivers the content and elements the listener would expect to find.
A conscious song, listen to clear your mind and focus on your potential so that you can be 'ready fi di feeling'.
So, finally it's official, reggae is a global phenomenon "worthy of protecting and promoting".
UNESCO Announcement (youtube video)
Reggae has been added to a list of international cultural treasures by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) The UNESCO committees meet annually to evaluate nominations and decide whether or not to inscribe them on the list, which began in 2008.
Many of us will be wondering what took them so long as we have been preaching that reggae is the voice of the people for many years.
Click to tweet image
In UNESCO's opinion reggae music's
"contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual". I think what they mean is reggae is the voice of the people and from its creation to the current day stands for inequality and injustice. Peace, love, overstanding and Jah Rastafari!
UNESCO also added: "The basic social functions of the music - as a vehicle for social commentary, a cathartic practice, and a means of praising God - have not changed, and the music continues to act as a voice for all."
Jamaica can be truly proud of this formal recognition, Olivia Grange, Jamaica's Culture Minister said "Reggae is uniquely Jamaican," "It is a music that we have created that has penetrated all corners of the world."
She also added "This is a historic day. We are very, very happy," "Anywhere you go and say you're from Jamaica, they answer 'Bob Marley'."
For all the praises that the Jamaican government has now showered on reggae music, I hope this also translates into tangible support for the industry and the artists themselves. Many of whom could use some funding.
The music grew from the inequalities that existed in the 1960s in Jamaica and became a vehicle to express these issues. Many of the foundation reggae artists are no longer with us but their legacy truly leaves on.
Although reggae now has sub-genres like dub, dancehall and lovers rock. Conscious roots reggae is still at the heart of reggae's DNA.
This is because the world still has many issues to resolve and many people are touched by these issues one way or another. So when the lyrics and music of reggae speak to them there is a genuine connection. That is what has made reggae unique, it is GENUINE. When reggae songs of unity, equality and peace are created, people know that this is not a 'joke ting' reggae was born with the intention to be the voice of the unheard and bring these matters out into the open.
As issues of social injustice are not likely to end any time soon, conscious reggae is still relevant now and will be in the future. To me, after nearly 50 years, UNESCO's inclusion of reggae in its list is a statement that the ideals that conscious reggae supports are "worthy of protecting and promoting". I hope this is recognized globally and nationally.
BBC 1Xtra reggae presenter Dave Rodigan said "it (reggae) speaks out for the underprivileged, it speaks out against social injustice. Reggae music is the original rebels' music immortalised by Bob Marley at the Wailers."
As mentioned before, many reggae artists have left their legacy on the history of reggae music, but Bob Marley took the exposure of reggae music to another level. As both Jamaica's culture minister, Olivia Grange and David Rodigan hinted, Bob Marley is synonymous with reggae the world over.
In 2016 Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature. It was awarded to Dylan for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition" If Bob Marley was alive today I think he would have also have been awarded the prize as his legacy mirrors reggae's contribution to the world.
As UNESCO stated, "The basic social functions of the music - as a vehicle for social commentary, a cathartic practice, and a means of praising God - have not changed, and the music continues to act as a voice for all."
Amen to that.
"Your dream of turning your lyrics, song or beat into a real product that you can unleash on the world is a reality"
Once upon a time, the title of this blog post would have been fantasy. However, technology has enabled consumers to listen to music in different ways and music makers can have direct access to their fans.Fans want music on demand and they want good new music. There is a market out there for your musical ideas. You just need to be able to turn it from idea to a digital product. There are different skill sets required to achieve this and certain decisions need to be made but we’ll discuss this later. We’ll discuss 5 key points that will be the foundation for your success. The takeaway from this is that your dream of turning your lyrics, song or beat into a real product that you can unleash on the world is a reality.
1. Having the Right Mindset
I am sure that you have heard the phrase ‘It’s all in the mind’ but the truth of the matter is that to be successful, it is, all about the mindset. If you read any of the ‘how to be successful’ or motivational books out there, they will all emphasise this point so I won’t dwell on the research here. The reason why it is so important is that it will decide whether you complete your musical journey. The downside of technology removing technical obstacles is that the relevant tasks will be your responsibility to fulfil. Unless you hit the jackpot very early, the journey can be a long one. It takes determination to continue when things aren’t going your way.
2. Evaluate Yourself and Your Ambitions
So you know you have what it takes to see it to the end. The next step is to evaluate. The modern-day artist and producer are not only music makers but the owner of a business. Some things to evaluate are:
Do I have the level of skill needed
How will I acquire missing skills
Is there a demand for my genre/style
How and where will I produce my music
What budget can I allocate to the project
The answers to these questions give you a picture of your undertaking, what lies ahead, who else you may need to assist you. It is important that you have this picture as this will enable you to set realistic goals. This last point is important be REALISTIC.
3. Start Improving Your Skill Set and Knowledge
Now that you have your goals set this is the time to do some research. None of us has the answers to everything (if you do you are wasting your time reading this post). Your goals could be achieved in different ways so this is the time to find out your options. Whatever your goals it is highly unlikely that you are the first person to try, so put in some research.
Join Facebook groups and Google+ communities of your niche
Reach out to fellow artists and producers that may already have travelled your road (but be mindful their experience does not mean the same experience for you, positive or negative)
What skills do I improve and what do I outsource e.g. mix and mastering.
It is important to evaluate your options as the wrong option could incur you needless expense.
4. Create and Implement your Plan
This is the key to delivering the goals you previously set out. This doesn’t have to be on a special app or in a special format, a spreadsheet will do or a word document or even post-it notes. It is the content that matters. It should contain:
A list of activities and tasks,
Each activity is given a completion date
Each activity is assigned to someone (in many cases yourself),
Estimated costs for each activity.
The key here is to stick to the plan. When you devise it make the dates and costs realistic. Don’t make the tasks large, make them small. It is amazing the lift it gives when you can tick off tasks as complete. It is the best motivator.
5. Get your Music Out There
To build your reputation, brand and following, your music needs to be out there. Don’t take yourself too seriously because at the start no one else is. If you try and create perfection and take two years to fix that last 2% you may well be pleased but, your journey is going to be very long.
Do the best you can with the resources you have but get your music out there! You must mix and master your track to compete and also for submission to radio stations, but regular output is the key to gaining a following. A quote that's worth remembering:
Good luck with your project.
Firstly, I 'd like to congratulate David Rodigan on 40 years in the business. That is some achievement in the fast changing world that we live in. For most reggae lovers living through the period, David Rodigan would definitely have played a part in your journey.
Reggae Fever Back in the Day
The film and the commentators definitely gave a feel of what it was like at the time being young and black and even David Rodigan's re-telling of his interview for BBC Radio London gave an indication of the political and social environment at the time.
Let me explain, I have no doubt David Rodigan's knowledge of reggae was deep but, the fact that he got the job when the station was specifically looking for a black presenter, says more about the parlous state of the black community, confidence was low, especially among young blacks, but this was about to change (I'll come back to this later). However, thanks to David Rodigan's drive to play the latest reggae his weekly show was a highlight of the week.
This period was also the time that my love for reggae moved into something more tangible with the forming of a band with my brothers and friends called The Instigators.
Exert from Black Echoes Newspaper
We had a strict Jamaican upbringing. However, our father always instilled in us a pride in our Jamaican heritage and a confidence to succeed. My brothers Leroy and Dave had no doubt that we would be successful, though being the eldest I had my doubts.
Homegrown British reggae, at the time, was still finding its feet and was looked down upon as not being authentic, even by the British reggae media.
This is where David Rodigan first made an impact on our future. As David Rodigan mentioned, one of the big sound systems at the time that he followed was 'Fatman' sound system. It was Fatman who took us under his wing and brought us to the studio to record.
We laid down the rhythm tracks for Fatman's album 'Late Night Session' with two DJs from Fatman's sound Roy Ranking and Raymond Naptali. As the press cutting shows, no-one believed the tracks were laid down by a British band even the renowned David Rodigan.
This reticence to believe by David Rodigan raised awareness of the band. This was his influence in the British reggae arena and as the film showed he was not afraid to enter the Jamaican reggae arena to make his mark. That takes courage and confidence I can assure you.
Roots Reggae - Rise in Consciousness and Confidence
As mentioned before, the film showed some of the social background during the rise of British reggae. There were periods of rebellion but a growing identity which increased confidence and was being reflected in the music by bands such as Aswad and Steel Pulse. As the film stated, this was accompanied by the rise of Rastafari in Jamaica and the influence this had on the music with the emergence of 'Roots Reggae' or 'Conscious Reggae'.
This confidence in taking on the system and the demand to hear reggae music led to the emergence of 'pirate' radio stations. These were unofficial radio stations broadcasting reggae to local communities. Eventually, with a change in government policy, some of these became licensed. But, as ever, David Rodigan was still there.
Jamaica was still the centre of reggae creativity, but British reggae was growing in confidence. So, it was interesting seeing David Rodigan going into the lion's den of Jamaica to take on the great Jamaican sound systems in sound clashes and holding his own. This mirrored another step into the lion's den by my brothers Leroy and Dave who had now become Mafia & Fluxy, the most prolific drum and bass 'riddim' section in Britain.
David Rodigan with Mafia & Fluxy
A sub-genre of reggae had emerged 'Dancehall' led by Steely & Clevie from Jamaica. Hit upon hit was being produced by the Jamaican duo. British reggae was playing catchup and this continued the myth that authentic reggae could not come out of Britain.
Mafia & Fluxy were alive to the new sound and accepted the challenge, starting to produce their own dancehall productions. Soon, however, the reputation of Mafia and Fluxy had caught the attention of Jamaican studio owners and they were brought over to:
" mek wi see wha de English man dem can do"
The story is for another time but ends with Mafia & Fluxy in high demand and the myth that authentic reggae could not be played by British musicians disproved forever.
Breaking the Mould
To me, this is the story of David Rodigan a white male who loved reggae music and Jamaican culture in a time of social upheaval, divisions and suspicion and just did his thing, breaking the perceived mould of a 'real' reggae music lover.
Now, reggae is truly global, with white reggae bands like Rebelution in the US having huge followings. Reggae is now no longer 'owned' by a racial group it now belongs to everyone, as it should be. It has spawned new genres like Drum and Bass, Dub Step, EDM. Reggae itself has sub-genres Roots & Culture, Dub, Lovers Rock, Dancehall, Reggae Fusion.
David Rodigan is still here, still loving reggae music, still doing his thing for over 40 years. No one can say he hasn't earned the respect of his peers and reggae lovers globally. He gave us the opportunity to hear reggae music on radio during a time when reggae airplay was almost non-existent.
For that, I salute you Mr Rodigan.