In this final part of the journey I will give a very brief summary of the paper of ideas on the way forward which I presented to the minister responsible at various times for the cultural industry. What here follows is necessarily without all the whereas and whereby sentences and the infinite statistics that it seems you must write if you want to get the attention of those who are college educated in the government service and to who the ministers must turn for advice and all this after the minister warns, “Do not send me any long, long writing. Make it simple.” It did me no good because I never received a written reply. I will break down that 12 page document to the minister into three main sections.
1. Culture of Little Thinking
I did the morning show on all the radio stations we have here at one time or other except the Voice of Life and tried to bring my brand of “Wake up” to all of them which was music, information and humorous anecdotes. During that time a listener once walked up to me with his face alight as if he had discovered gold, “I know where you get your jokes from. You get it from the Readers Digest.” The Readers what? I made these things up as I passed along the way but to him how could I do this-successfully? What he reflected is the way we think of ourselves-we are too small- and that is the first problem we must attack in this business of promoting Waitikubuli music.
We do not believe in ourselves enough. We are quite content in sending two athletes to the Olympics in London and a larger number of officials to watch over them and the President himself to watch them knowing they are not good enough and must lose, but what is that? We are just a small island anyway and that to us is a good enough. We vote for those very much less educated or experienced than ourselves to run our affairs and then hide behind them with blinded support and even those who claim major qualifications do it too, all the while boasting of their mighty academic achievements. So what does this have to do with our music? It is the overall attitude thing that creates a culture of low expectations.
It is this small-mindedness why we diss down instead of embracing Diaspora returnees with different ideas for development and speak absurdities like, “Where were you all de time we dere in our misere.” Microsoft and Apple were started in garages and the most fascinating stories in the world are those that tell of rags to riches. No we are not too small, we just think small.
The problem is not educational, geographical or totally political, it is perceptual. It is looking at white clouds and seeing sheep. Our artistes largely think that way as well showing no actual interest in coming together for the good of all in a small island and except we are ready for a change of head we will travel painfully slowly on the backs of turtles holding on for the bumpy ride yo-yoing between ‘maybe we can but no we can’t.’
Chronic small-mindedness is a mental disease. It is a self defeating mess. We think our way into it and we must think our way out of it. The hardest thing is to unlearn but that is the first thing we must do if we are to develop our music and cultural industry.
2. We must target a market
In my original document I stressed that we turn our attention to the immeasurable African market, and that increasingly the world has become a global village and the world market is no longer beyond our reach. Technology has changed things and it destroyed the music industry as we have known it. No longer do people have to travel to stores to buy music or to find a foreign stage to perform for discovery, or have to warehouse great big packages of CDs awaiting sale, all you do is find the way to place it online- YouTube is now the international music performance stage for every genre, level of performer and especially for starters. In our world all you need is an online company that will do it all for you and there are a number of them; just Google.
Through such companies you can become your own producer, and distributor. MP3 bloggers are in the tens of thousands and if the MP3 bloggers embrace you then your grass roots promotion is on its way and can spread like wildfire. Music blogs have become an invaluable medium for new music to garner life changing exposure and by establishing personal connection with blogs that are relevant to your sound and genre you have the opportunity to reach vast unexpected audiences. We can reach the world without paying for an airline ticket.
I wish that opportunity was there when the Gaylords existed, but it is here now. We should package our World Creole Music Festival for promotion, patenting and labeling. We must not only move to the next level, we must live in the next level’.
3. Jump start the industry
That is where the government comes in by setting up a fund for moving the thing along. A Jump Starter program of funding for creative projects which will assist those who show promise of pushing our music beyond our personal hi-fi sets and car players starting the journey to make this incredible talent that sleeps among us a force in the world and a giant tool of tourism, and a source of employment for our youth.
Do not think that this is all about it amen. This space cannot contain all the elements and aspects of it but it is a start, a general way to say later when we triumphantly look back, “In the beginning the music industry was void and without form, but now…..”
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