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«Prepared for Caribbean Export Development Agency Barbados April 2001 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION The rapid growth of an intellectual property and ...»

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Prepared by


Institute of International Relations

The University of the West Indies

St Augustine

Trinidad & Tobago

Prepared for

Caribbean Export Development Agency


April 2001



The rapid growth of an intellectual property and copyright economy, suggests that there is a window of opportunity in the realm of cultural industries for Caribbean economies. The cultural industries sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world-economy. In the United States, cultural industries account for approximately 40% of copyright industries, which contributes 6% of GDP, 5% of employment and has become the number one export sector, surpassing rivals like the auto industry (IIPA 2000).

The music industry is one of the largest cultural industries and makes a significant contribution to the world-economy. The rate of growth for this sector during the 1980s and 1990s was between three and five times more than the growth rate for world exports (UNCTAD/ILO 1995)1. For example, the music industry in the UK has proven to be dynamic and competitive, relative to other sectors in the economy (Lewis 1995).

In developing countries, the music industry has long been valued for its contribution to cultural identity (Nettl, 1997; Robinson et. al., 1991). However, there have been few studies of the music industry from an economic standpoint, despite the fact that a large number of developing countries have been involved in the production and export of music. In the Caribbean the music industry, however, remains largely undocumented, with a few notable exceptions (Bourne, C and S.M. Allgrove, 1997;

Watson, P. 1995; Wallis and Malm, 1984).

The region’s contribution to the global cultural economy, particularly popular music, has been very significant. It is noted that the region’s impact on the world

music scene has been large relative to its size (Bilby 1985: 215):

The story of Caribbean music is a remarkable one. For this relatively small geographical region, ravaged by centuries of European colonial domination and long looked upon as a region of “colonial backwaters,” “deracinated” peoples, and societies that had supposedly produced nothing indigenous of any value, has over and over brought forth unique and vibrant musical creations to which the entire world can dance. That the story is far from finished means that the lives of music lovers in both the Caribbean and other parts of the world will be that much the richer in the years ahead.

These figures do not include the large revenues generated outside of sound recordings sales such as publishing, royalty collections, live performance income, cultural merchandising and cultural tourism.

The Caribbean enjoys a competitive capability in cultural production. Jamaica, for example, continues to be the primary source for musical innovation in reggae in spite of the fact that the genre has spread to many parts of the globe. Reggae is now recognized as one of the major genres of music and has gained recognition from international music awards such as the Grammys. Trinidad and Tobago, the land of calypso, soca and steelband has exported musical genres through the proliferation of the Trinidad styled carnival, which can be found through-out the anglophone Caribbean and in metropolitan cities where there are large diasporic populations (Nurse 1999). Merengue from the Dominican Republic is one of the key sub-genres that have contributed to the recent explosion in Latin music on the world music scene.

These examples illustrate that the region’s contribution to the global music industry.

According to some analysts:

The many musical styles that have been propagated in these island cultures are among the most dynamic and influential in the world, and their artists - names like Mighty Sparrow, Kassav, Celia Cruz, Ruben Blades, Juan Luis Guerra, and the late, great Bob Marley - have a truly global following (Broughton, et al., 1995: 473).

The Caribbean has participated in the global music industry since the 1920s with the recording and export of genres like calypso, merengue, son, reggae, zouk, salsa, soca, and dancehall. The region’s music industry, in spite of its perceived success, has had long-standing problems in relation to airplay, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, copyright protection (e.g. piracy) and royalty collections.

The result has been a context of low local value-added, shallow industrial infrastructure, weak export capabilities and external control. This has led one analyst to argue that in the case of the export of Jamaican music "raw talent would not have been enough without the operations of international capital" (Cooper 1993: 5).

In a similar vein another observer notes that:

Caribbean music, an integral part of culture and tradition, makes money in New York, London, Paris and Amsterdam. More Caribbeans have earned international recognition from music than from any other pursuit.

Living in small countries of little fame, Caribbeans are proud of their music stars. A few have earned millions from recordings that have brought in billions. But so far, this hasn’t made their countries any less poor, and the lucrative Caribbean music business has remained far away out of Caribbean control (Kurlansky 1992: 102).

In short, it can be argued that these problems relate to the fact that the region has spawned great artists and music without the requisite level of institutional support and industrial infrastructure to facilitate a deepening of the industrial base. Thus, in spite of the Caribbean’s long history of involvement in the global music industry and its dynamic contribution to world music, the region's music industry continues to be plagued with institutional and financial problems.

Industry stakeholders have largely operated along individualist and fragmented lines and as a result have been unable to develop and implement an institutional framework that combines the demands of a competitive industry with the requirements of industrial, trade and intellectual property policy.

This lacuna in the existing framework is exacerbated by the fact that there is little recognition by the region's national policy-makers of the economic importance and export potential of the industry. The needs and potential of the music industry are not adequately documented and consequently not factored into national or regional development policies and trade negotiations at the multilateral level.


This study starts from the premise that sustained global competitiveness is attained through innovation and a deepening of technological and institutional capabilities and not just through increased capital accumulation, i.e. investment (Ernst, Ganiatos & Mytelka 1998). The argument is that enhanced competitiveness is dependent on the stimulation of innovation (Adams & Bollino, 1982). There has been a heightened awareness that the traditional paradigm of economic development is inadequate for the challenge of an increasingly competitive global marketplace. One example of this is the increased focus on issues relating to competitive advantage as opposed to that of comparative advantage (Porter, 1990).

This perspective on industrial development suggests that competitive advantage is a dynamic and localized process whereby differences in national values, culture, economic structures, institutions, and histories all contribute to attaining a competitive edge. For instance, Porter argues that "ultimately, nations succeed in particular industries because their home environment is the most forward-looking, dynamic, and challenging" (1990: 74). He also posits that national prosperity is created and not inherited, states must recognize that a nation's competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industries to innovate and upgrade. In essence, what is called for is an industrial strategy that allows for continuous upgrading, innovation and development of local capabilities.

It is argued that the requirements of technological and institutional innovation are applicable to firms in both developed and developing economies, although it is recognized that the needs are greater in the latter context. It is also noted the critical elements of industrial upgrading, for example, learning and knowledge accumulation, often evade market supply. According to some analysts “markets are notoriously weak in generating these capabilities, which are subject to externalities” (Ernst, Ganiatos & Mytelka 1998: 12). The problem of market failure is particular acute in the cultural industries (Casey et al, 1996).


This study seeks to examine the structure and performance of the Caribbean music industry, with a view to identifying a strategy for industrial upgrading and export expansion. To this end, the study will illustrate the importance of industrial upgrading and export expansion, the basis to the success of any competitive strategy. In particular, the respective strengths and weaknesses of the regional music industry will be drawn out, as a means of identifying the key areas for intervention, and also as a basis upon which a series of policy recommendations can be formulated.

The industrial and export capabilities of the regional music industry are highly differentiated. Some countries have a more developed home environment and have had longer exposure to the international market with varying levels of success (e.g. Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Dominican Republic). In other territories, the industry is in its embryonic stage with a limited business and legal framework (Guyana, Suriname, the OECS).

The study has three major goals and is divided into three parts.

1. Part one reviews available studies on the global music industry and analyzes the structure, operations, trends and prospects for the sector in the digital age. The goal is to identify the challenges and opportunities for the future development of the Caribbean music industry.

2. Part two involves several country studies: Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and the OECS territories. The goal is to identify the factors constraining the global competitiveness of the sector.

This involves an investigation of the economic and export performance of the music industry based upon primary data gathering and interviews with key industrial stakeholders and national policy makers.

3. Part three makes the case for industrial policy intervention to upgrade the capabilities of the sector. The goal is to identify best-practice in industrial, trade and innovation policy and to recommend policy directives and a strategic action plan for improving the competitiveness of the sector in the domestic, regional and export markets.


This study examines the economic and export performance of the music industry. The emphasis is on estimating the value of foreign exchange earnings because the data on the value of local sales of recorded music is difficult to ascertain for lack of documentation. The available official statistics are better on visible trade (e.g. the import and export of soundcarriers like records, tapes and CDs) than on invisible earnings (e.g. services such as performances. An area where data is somewhat developed, especially in those territories that have functioning national copyright collection agencies, is in the royalty collections and distribution. Gaps in information are filled by references from industry sources. The statistics for invisible earnings are largely dependent on information assembled by the various industry organizations or representatives as well as through direct investigations.

–  –  –

Traditionally, the dominant strategies pursued in the economic development of the Caribbean (e.g. plantation production, resource-based extraction, importsubstitution and export-oriented industries and services) have been essentially reactive and dependent upon foreign inflows of capital, with very little valueadded for the region. It is felt that a strategy specific to the needs of the Caribbean music industry, and one which recognizes the value of industrial upgrading and export expansion, could possibly facilitate a paradigmatic shift to allow for an effective competitive strategy to be fostered.

research will show that industrial upgrading entails maintaining a high level of competitiveness so that a sustained development capability may also be produced in the sector. In so doing, key factors of competitiveness, along with key factors upon which an appropriate industrial policy can be built will be identified. The research will show that when building an industrial policy, these two issues are linked, and a competitive strategy that is based upon this linkage would facilitate the Caribbean music industry becoming a viable export. It will be further argued that a competitive strategy, which fails to acknowledge this relationship, can hardly be effective in the long run.




The music business is one of the fastest growing sectors of the world economy.

The worldwide sales of pre-recorded music (e.g. CDs, tapes and vinyl records) has grown by more than 300%, from US$12 billion in 1982 to over US$38.7 billion by 1998 (IFPI 1999b). These sales figures do not include the sale of music on-line (e.g. music downloaded over the Internet), which is relatively small still. In addition it does not include other sources of income that are part of the music industry such as copyright royalties, concerts and live performances, festivals, advertising, broadcasting, music videos, musical instruments, music publishing, music education and motion picture synchronization fees. These sources of income are rarely reflected in national income statistics or international trade data. The actual size of the global music industry is thus largely under-estimated.

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