International Reggae Day and the Marketing Mastery of Reggae Music
International Reggae Day has been celebrated annually on July 1st for the last twenty plus years.
Annual celebrations highlight the global influence of Jamaican music and culture. The overall objective of the day is to celebrate the best of Jamaican creativity and its worldwide impact using the power of music, media and communication technology to unite nations.* In my humble opinion, reggae music has sustained the title as one of the best marketed genres of music coming out of the Caribbean region. Viewing reggae music through strictly a marketing lens; it is amazing to see the global reach and influence of a musical form that originated from a tiny island of less than four (4) million people.
ORIGINS OF REGGAE:
The word reggae has its roots in the term ‘rege-rege’ which means ‘ragged clothes.’ This form of music originated in Jamaica during the 1960’s as an amalgamation of various musical sounds including Jamaican Mento & Ska, along with American Jazz and Rhythm & Blues. The band, Toots & The Maytals are popularly attributed for bringing reggae music to the attention of the general public. In the 1970’s the lyrical content of the music started evolving from mostly love songs into anthems on rebellion, revolution and Rastafarian culture. International acclaim for the music first started taking root when Jimmy Cliff released a socio-political movie called ‘The Harder They Come.’ The story-line and sound-track brought global attention to the musical genre and cleared a path for reggae’s superstar, Bob Marley, to receive worldwide recognition and establish one of the strongest brands in the genre. These are but a few of many talented musicians who have made strong contributions to building the brand of reggae to what it is today.
TOP 5 MARKETING WINS:
Created a distinctive brand
- Reggae music has been able to differentiate itself from most other types of music available on the market. According to the American Marketing Association, “a brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers”. Throughout its various evolutions throughout the years, reggae music has been able to sustain a distinct sound that stands out from the rest and is not easily duplicated.
Developed a strong message
- Rebellion. Voice of the People. Voice of the Ghetto. Socio-Political Commentary. These are some of the adjectives/phrases that have become associated with reggae music. The musical evolution of reggae has not detracted from some very distinct messages that ring through and connect with its audiences. This steadfast (albeit unintentional) approach to branding allowed reggae music to claim a strong position in the minds of followers.
Assembled a strong team of ambassadors
- If you have not heard the name ‘Marley,’ chances are you are living way below the deepest embedded rock on earth. And although the Marley brand has definitely risen to the top of reggae ambassadors, there are multiple talents that have contributed to the rise of reggae music the world over. In my opinion, what Jamaica has done really well with reggae music is claim an undeniable ownership of it. So much so, that when others try to adopt it, they first seek the approval of the Jamaican people and seek airplay on Jamaican radio stations before trying to spread their wings.
Found a loyal base of followers
- Reggae has an almost cult-like following around the world. It started in its homeland of Jamaica where it was adopted by the masses (after some class struggles) and then spread worldwide. Some people cling to reggae music because of the musical and lyrical content, some because of what the music represents, some because of its associations with Jamaica ..the list is endless. Regardless of what it is, reggae music has been able to claim an undeniable mind share throughout the globe.
- First came reggae music and then came the reggae festivals that took on a life of their own around the world. The festivals have become an additional performance outlet and revenue stream for many reggae artistes, and, the reach for these festivals knows no limits. From the festivals has come additional opportunities such as merchandising and music sales which many artistes have benefited from.
SOUND OFF: HOW DO YOU THINK INTERNATIONAL REGGAE DAY SHOULD BE CELEBRATED?
MISSION: To elevate the brand of Caribbean culture in the fields of MUSIC, BUSINESS and the ARTS by celebrating the work of cultural ambassadors while advocating for upcoming Caribbean talent1.