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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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This trend has been further strengthened by the establishment of two top-of-theline recording studios: Eddy Grant's Blue Wave studio (1981) in Barbados and the Caribbean Sound Basin (1990) in Trinidad. Blue Wave studio has recorded international pop stars like Marcia Barrett from Boney M, Musical Youth, Sting, Mick Jagger and Elvis Costello. Caribbean Sound Basin has attracted acts like Puff Daddy, Tony Toni Tone, Kansas, Electric Light Orchestra, Teddy Riley, Allyah, Toni Braxton, Kassav and Walt Disney studios. Both recording companies also provide international marketing and distribution expertise.

The other major studios in Trinidad are KMP Music Lab & Publishing Co., Western Sound Studios, Coral Sounds Studio, Sunset Studio, JO-GO Productions and Engine Room Recording and Production ltd. These companies are also involved in doing recordings for international and regional artistes. There are several smaller studios that are involved in recording artistes but their main source of work is in the production of jingles for the local and regional advertising industries.

This phase can be viewed as the creative stage. Many see it as the heart of the industry. However, there is an important economic side to this phase. Assuming that the artiste composes his/her own songs, then the major costs are the fees of the recording studio. The cost of recording varies depending on the quality of the studio. International quality work can cost on average TT$6,000.00 for a single and approximately TT$40,000.00 for an album.

The most underdeveloped aspect of the music industry is marketing, distribution and retailing. This is the case at home and abroad. On the local scene, with the exception of a few top artists, the tradition has been that artists would have to finance the recording of their music then do the marketing, promotion and distribution themselves. At the international level the main distributors for Trinidad music has been JW Records and JMC Records, which focuses on chutney music, both based in New York. In the UK, Jet Star is the major distributor. These firms service mainly the West Indian immigrant market and have had limited success with the crossover or mainstream markets. Caribbean Sound Basin has had dealings with international companies like EMI, Warner and Polygram. In recent years VP Records, which has developed a strong market position in reggae, has developed a Soca catalogue for distribution.

ECONOMIC AND EXPORT PERFORMANCE

The Recording Industry In the last few years there has been increased success with the sale of compilation tapes and CDs. This appears to be a viable strategy for enhanced market penetration. This is reflected in the expansion of this type of product on the local and international market. Rituals claims to have sold over 15,000, respectively, of its ‘New Vibes’, ‘Trini Party’ and ‘Party Rhythms’ calypso compilation CDs.

Coral Sounds CD compilation series Soca Party has sold well in the US where the company has a distribution deal with Music Ram. CD compilations have also come from JoGo Productions’ ‘Island Jamz’ and Tony Chow Lin On’s ‘Soca Switch’. There is also compilation CDs coming out of New York from JW Records, Carl Holder as well as JMC Records. The success of some firms in terms of direct marketing suggests that there is much more scope for industry growth through this mechanism.

A number of firms have also reported some success with individual albums and artists in recent years. Rituals has had success signing a number of singles to major recording companies, for example, Nigel Lewis’ ‘Follow de Leader’ with EMI, Sharlene Boodram with Sony France for a remake of ‘Joe le Taxi’, 3 Canal’s song Mud Madness to Baxter/Polygram, and David Rudder’s ‘Beloved’ album to Polygram.

Machel Montano first international single ‘Come Dig It’, which was released with Delicious Vinyl then London Records, was used as the theme song for the 1996 Lilt Nottinghill Carnival. Machel Montano and the Xtatik band has had tremendous success with calypso albums ‘Heavy Duty’ and ‘Charge’, which feature road march hits ‘Big Truck’ and ‘Footsteps’, respectively. Machel Montano is currently pursuing a marketing arrangement with VP Records which has facilitated retailing through Amazon.com and collaboration with dancehall stars like Beenie Man, Red Rat and Mr. Vegas.

One of the biggest successes has been the hit song ‘Ain’t No Woman’ by General Grant who is under management with Amar Entertainment/Caribbean Sound Basin. The song has hit number one position on the Billboard reggae charts and number six on the R&B charts. The video, which was filmed in Trinidad and Los Angeles has been featured on BET, VH1, MTV and Box Video. The success has come through a strategic alliance with Polybeat Records, a US based firm, which specialises in urban and alternative music, and distribution by Virgin/EMD.

Other successes have emerged from attendance at MIDEM Latin America and the Caribbean, for example, Colin Lucas was able to sign ‘Dollar Wine’ to Dino Records Germany. KMP Music Lab has been able to widen distribution to the cruise ship industry as well as seek out more traditional distribution channels.

Sanch Electronix, which specialises in Pan, Classical and Folk music recordings has gained international distribution with Delos and New World Productions.





The economic and export performance of the recording industry is very difficult to gauge. There is no agency that collects data on the sub-sector. The data of previous studies puts the foreign exchange earnings of the sub-sector at approximately $10 million in 1995 (see table 5 below). The recording industry reported growth in earnings of 8.4% in 1996. The years 1997 and 1998 have experienced modest growth of approximately 3%. The reduced performance in the recording industry is in part due to the financial problems that affected CSB during the period.

TABLE 5

RECORDING INDUSTRY FOREIGN EXCHANGE EARNINGS (US$)

TOTAL 10,287,900 11,151,000 12,266,000 13,493,000 Source: Industry participants.

Soundcarrier market Data on soundcarrier sales at the retail or wholesale markets are not readily available. The main source of information is on the foreign trade market, imports and exports. The import market can be viewed as being representative of the level of retail activity in the economy because there are no local production facilities for any of the formats. Total imports have almost doubled between 1994 and 1996. The growth has come from CD imports while LPs and MCs have dropped. CDs share of the market has grown from about 50% to close to 80% (see table 6 below). The shift in soundcarrier imports reflects international trends and changes in consumer electronics purchases. The share of CDs with local artists or local input is difficult to assess. CDs with local or Caribbean content are duty exempt. Duty exemption is granted through the Ministry of Culture. The process is very time consuming and cumbersome.

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Soundcarrier Exports Soundcarrier exports was dominated by vinyl records up until the early 1990s.

Since then the production and export of vinyl records have declined precipitously. In 1994 the export sales of vinyl records amounted to $759,079.

Exports dropped precipitously in 1995 to $30,000 and have virtually disappeared subsequently. The decline in soundcarrier exports is directly related to Caribbean Sound Basin decision to close its pressing plant in Trinidad and move the equipment to Barbados where it is now part of a joint venture operation with Best Records. MCs have been produced for the local market and there is no CD reproduction operation.

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The production of soundcarriers for the music industry has traditionally been done in the United States, Canada or Barbados. Overseas distributors and customers are then supplied from offshore operations. Consequently it is difficult to estimate the size of the market or the export earnings from the activities of domestic firms. This business model has been transnational since inception. The only way to gauge the dimensions of the international market would be through the sales of distributor like JW Records and VP Records in New York and Jet Star in London.

Information from the other main distributors, Eddy Grant's ICE records in Barbados, and the Caribbean Sound Basin and Ritual Records in Trinidad suggest that the total annual market sales of soundcarriers is in excess of 400,000 units. Industry informants estimate that there are at least ten recordings that sell over 20,000 units and fifteen to twenty that sell between 5,000 and 10,000. In addition, there has been some significant growth in sales in the last three years due to the introduction of compilation CDs. For example, ICE records 1995 and 1996 calypso compilation albums are estimated to have sold upwards of 30,000 units. Rituals Records claims to have sold over 15,000 of its 1996 calypso compilation CD.

Piracy The record manufacturing activity has been severely affected by local and foreign pirates. At home it has eroded the local market. For instance, it is estimated that 40 - 50,000 units used to be sold per year on the local market during the 1970s. Latest estimates suggest that the combined sales of vinyl records, cassettes and CDs amount to only 20 - 25,000 units annually, and a large percentage of this is to the visitors at Carnival time or to locals who are purchasing for their family and friends abroad. Rough estimates suggest that the pirates control about 80 - 90% of the local market for recorded music. This is related to the fact that one of the largest import items in the entertainment sector is unrecorded audiotapes, peaking at $2.4 million in 1995 and declining to $1.5 million in 1998 (see table 8). Other forms of tape are also imported in large volume. Magnetic and other magnetic tapes imports have expanded over the period to the combined value of $5.6 million in 1997.

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The decline in local record sales can also be explained by the downturn in the economy, however, the volume of cassette recorders and cassette dubbing/reproducer machines imports signal a high level of home taping and pirate activity. Table 9 below shows the value of imported recording apparatus for the period 1995 to 1998, where import value ranges from $4.0 to $6.0 million over the period. Sales in overseas markets are also subject to high levels of piracy. Record producers report that as many as twenty pirate CD compilations can be found in overseas markets, especially New York.

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Music Videos An increasingly important aspect of the music industry is the making of a video.

It has become an indispensable asset in the marketing of an artist, especially for penetrating the international and diasporic markets. Music video production is a growing area of work with the increased internationalization of music from Trinidad and Tobago. The profitability in this genre is limited because most firms have limited resources after financing record production. In addition, artists often have to finance their own videos. The main producers of music videos are companies like EarthTV, Video Associates and Advance Dynamics. For these firms producing videos is very much a sideline as the income from this activity is small. In fact, these firms generally subsidise the production costs of music videos and see this as promotional work or their contribution to the music industry.

There has been some improvement in the quality of the music videos that have been produced in the last few years. Video work has been done for artists from Barbados (e.g. Krosfyah and John King) and the Eastern Caribbean. The significance of this sub-sector is exemplified by the airing of locally produced videos on cable television BET’s ‘Caribbean Rhythms’ and on Caribbean Video Network, which was produced in Tobago and aired regionally. Caribbean Video Network has in the last year moved operations to Miami but the programme continues to be aired regionally. Another area that has the potential to grow as an export is the recording and reproduction of videotapes of live music performances, for example, Panorama steelband finals, Soca Monarch, Brass Festival, Spektakula Calypso Tent, Soca Chutney and the Parade of Bands. The main producer is Multimedia Productions which specialises in mass reproduction of audio and video tapes. The earnings from this activity are partially captured in merchandise trade figures because the principal market for these products are returning visitors for Carnival (see table 10 below). A large percentage of product is also exported via the suitcase trade.

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Instrument Exports Steelband instruments have emerged as the main export item under merchandise sales. In 1994 this sub-sector export sales was approximately $1.2 million, or 56% of entertainment merchandise exports. The position of steelband instruments was enhanced significantly in 1995 as export sales doubled to $2.4 million and rose to be 84% of merchandise sales (see table 11). The performance in 1996 also saw considerable growth with a 32% jump in exports to $3.2 million. Exports levelled off in 1997 at $3.1 million. Provisional half-year data for 1998 suggests that exports would be around the same value.

The export success of steelband instruments has been generated principally by two firms, Trinidad & Tobago Instruments Limited (TTIL) and Lincoln Enterprises Ltd. Both firms offer a full range of conventional pan instruments and accessories such as pan sticks, pan stands and pan carrying cases. TTIL also offers a range of mini-pans, which are targeted at the music educational market as well as the gift and craft markets. This product is a rapidly expanding share of TTIL export market. Much of this export has been as a result of attendance at trade fairs such as the National Association of Music Merchants and the Percussive Arts Society.

–  –  –

Overseas Music Performances One of the key features of the sector is the relatively large share that overseas performances contribute to overall foreign exchange earnings. The industry is also transnational in that many of the key actors and firms are either overseas or spend a large percentage of their time outside of the country, for example, servicing the over seventy Trinidad-style carnivals in the US, Canada, the UK and through-out the Caribbean region.



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