It is often said in entertainment circles that the business of music is 90% business and 10% music. There are however arguments for and against this proposition. What is not debatable however is the fact that it takes a whole lot of dedicated time and financial investment to create a successful recording artist.
Artist development is a process that requires very significant investment in image building, inclusive of the production of appropriate promotional music videos and other publicity materials such as biographies, press releases and promo photographs for media circulation. In the music business the process of recording and music distribution is also very time consuming and expensive, and as we all know, no artist can make it without releasing recordings that are well promoted and that grab the attention of the public. In order to enable an artist to be creative and productive it is also sometimes necessary to provide support for the artist’s welfare. This often includes transportation, clothing, a place to live, and the coverage of other personal day to day expenses.
The time and money required for artist development is often provided by the manager and/or music producer or persons who function as both artist manager and music producer. I have had my own personal experience operating in both capacities as manager and producer of artists in a development relationship. I have also represented several individuals and companies that do the same. From my point of view the Jamaican experience has been very discouraging. So much so that my initial reaction to clients these days is to invest their time and money elsewhere, and stay away from artist development.
Some people may ask, why I would suggest that to my clients. The easy answer would be to show them a long list of artist/manager/producer relationships in Jamaica that have gone sour after the investment of millions of dollars and years of dedicated effort by managers and producers without recovering their investment. In most cases there have been reports of artists running off as soon as they sight success, or turning against the person who has worked hard to bring about their success. This seems to be the norm in Jamaica rather than the exception. The cases of successful long term artist development relationships are few and far between.
Regardless of your opinion on the relative importance of the music versus business inputs to the development equation, one thing is certain; there is need for a partnership between talent and business. Many of the development relationships that have gone bad were destined to end in dispute as a consequence of the failure to put in place appropriate agreements at the outset. On the other hand, there have been relationships that were supported by proper agreements between the parties, and that started out very well, but ended in disaster once the artist started to see success.
While there will be some artists who are able to provide for themselves the necessary business expertise and support, I think the vast majority do need a partner. The artist/manager/producer development partnership is however under threat of becoming extinct in Jamaica if we do not seriously examine the conditions