Shaggy urges dancehall and other Jamaican music stakeholders to get educated about the business of music or get left behind.
The reggae/dancehall legend is getting ready to host the five-day Island Music Conference (IMC) next month. The music conference geared towards the Caribbean will run from February 8 to 12 in Kingston and will see Caribbean music stakeholders hosting workshops and giving keynotes on various aspects of the music business.
“Financial literacy is important… You can make the money, but you have to know what to do with it,” Shaggy said while speaking with the Observer.
Shaggy, whose real name is Orville Burrell, also urges artists and stakeholders to take advantage of new and emerging technologies available now that weren’t before. Streaming options like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube continue to see massive growth in the music consumption arena, and more people worldwide have begun connecting to the internet.
“You have to educate yourself and [learn] what they are about, how they operate, and how they operate territorially — because in a lot of things the territorial laws are different. So many things are changing. It’s a different time and now is the best time,” the artist laments.
Ahead of his IMC, Shaggy advises artists to dream big and don’t put any limits on themselves.
“The main thing is to let them know that they should dream big, don’t put a cap on your dreams,” the veteran Jamaican artist said. “If a man use to get… all you ever see in your bank account is a thousand dollars, and a man bring twenty thousand come give you then you think your rich. If that’s all you’re use to and a man bring another one you feel you’re rich you don’t know that there is ten million out there that you can make. A lot of people try to make it seem like this is where it is and ‘oh this is as far as you can go’ and am telling you that you have to let yourself be bankable. You have to make yourself be worthy of investments.”
Shaggy also expressed the importance of artists being bankable and worthy of investments from record labels and corporate companies. To achieve this, artists must become professionals and develop a good work ethic.
“When Ariana Grande comes out and she has a roll out of $10 million per song to roll out, it’s because she is bankable, it’s because the record company is investing in her, knowing that one she is going to show up on time, two she is going to go hard, three you know what I mean she is going to come with the bells and whistle, and four she has a team that is pro,” Shaggy continues. “If we don’t start getting a team that is pro, then nobody is going to want to bank.”
Shaggy is one of the most commercially successful artists in Jamaican music history, with a diamond-selling album and several massive hit records that stood the test of time.
Last year, Shaggy opened the doors to both young and seasoned artists in the business to come and sit with him and ask him questions. This, he said, is his way of giving back and helping to educate the current crop of artists to push their careers to higher heights.
“I’ve seen artists who’ve gotten prime opportunities and because of hustle mentality decided they’re not gonna take it. If you get a manager who don’t know how to build a career they just know how to collect money, you’re gonna have a problem…for me, my biggest thing right in the position I am in now is to create a platform to teach. Anybody can come to me to ask me [anything],” the artist said.