Underhanded promotion triggers bootleg practice

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By: Joseph Cunningham
Photo by Carlington Wilmot

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'If a bootleg wi shoot leg.' This was Vybz Kartel's utterance as he ascended the podium at the launch of his new album in 2004.
The bootleg issue has plagued the Reggae/Dancehall since technology has made it possible, and, concerns have increased since the resurgence of the genre on the international mainstream has not brought a much desired 'organized system'.

Dancehall artiste LA.Lewis believes that an organized system can only be manifested through the establishment of corporate enterprises that govern the industry. He explained," There needs to be a big building in Jamaica that represents the headquarters of Reggae/Dancehall music, from the charts to the Reggae archives." He added that where it concerns bringing and keeping the financial profits of the music in Jamaica, it all begins with the local radio stations, producers and the artistes.
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LA.Lewis argued that the very controversial practice of payola in Jamaica hinders development for particularly younger or new artistes who are unable to compete with those paying top dollars for airplay.. Further he said that this underhanded practice sustains the bootleg culture, because artistes and producers see mixtapes as the alternative to the radio. He continued, "The financial challenge posed by payola then causes producers and artistes to turn to mixtape engineers in order to promote their material."

It is common knowledge that the mixtape option eliminates the potential for royalties to be gained from music. It is also becoming increasingly evident that the Japanese and the European Reggae/Dancehall markets are much more prosperous than the 'birthplace', Jamaica. LA.Lewis said that when the Japanese and the European come to Jamaica, they take the easily accessible mixtape back to their well organized music industries, where they make huge profits.

"Many persons do not know that the Japanese Reggae sound system Mighty Crown has its own Nike sponsored shoe line! It's unfortunate that Stone Love, the world leading Reggae sound system does not even have a T-shirt line," he revealed

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