Recently a non-soca promotion team put on a soca and dancehall event which featured one of the worlds greatest and much loved soca artiste, Lil Rick and a leading dancehall artiste Gage.
The event was well attended but from my understanding the cohesion of soca and dancehall didn’t work as well as some people would have liked it to.
I did not attend the event, so cannot comment on whether it was good or not. However the day after this event it would seem that the soca community were displeased with everything about the event. Their main concern being that a non-soca promotion team used ‘our genre of music’ to push their event.
I can understand this reaction, as many of us have been on the scene and supporting the scene for decades then along comes some promo-house with a fist full of money, using what took ‘us’ years to build and put on an event without blinking an eye at us. How dare they…
This feeling of discontent gave heat to the topic ‘…we need to support our own soca promoters and businesses…’. Boy do I agree with this; but lets look at this a little bit further.
Soca Frenzy – The monster, monthly event which is well attended every month. The Soca Frenzy team have really taken the UK soca scene bull by the horns by:
- Supporting UK soca acts and giving them a main stage on which to display their talents.
- Supporting UK soca DJs by giving them a large audience to play to and gain experience with.
- Bringing international soca artistes from ALL islands to perform for us in the UK.
- Showing by example how to market and promote events.
Release D Riddim – Red Eye – If there is a bank holiday, you can bet your life there is a Red Eye. This 100% soca event is always well attended, well supported and includes veteran DJ’s from the scene as well as up and coming DJs. It has a great party vibe and can guarantee you that ‘soca sweat’ which you may not be able to get anywhere else in the UK.
Busspepper – Most Busspepper events sell out. They occur every 6 or so weeks. It is the UKs most popular ‘London City Club’ party. Busspepper have been going for over 10 years and have been supplying the UK with an alternative way to consume soca music. Yes you have to dress up, yes the drinks at the bar are a little pricey, yes you have to conform to ‘London City Club’ etiquette but boy the vibes are crazy! You will get your fill of soca music and other popular genres in our community and you can also get a plate of great Caribbean food.
Chocolate Nation Mas (CNM) – Aside from their carnival related events CNM also have boat parties throughout the year. These are always sold out and boasts some of the UK’s most experienced DJs who entertain the sold out crowd.
Flagz Fetes – The Flagz team have been on the scene for many years. They have many different events throughout the year including their yearly trip to Rotterdam Carnival. Their most recent, popular event is their Dancehall Vs Soca fete, whereby dancehall and soca DJ’s go head-to-head to see who will reign supreme. This event is very well attended, greatly anticipated and well supported.
Bakahnal Radio – The most popular online (bakahnalradio.com) and now on your FM dial (107.6fm) soca radio station in the UK. It has DJ’s and presenters from all over the UK and further a field in some parts of Europe. It has the big name veteran DJ’s such as Martin Jay and Mike Forbes and well as the young, up and coming DJ’s such as Danny D and Triple M.
Bakahnal Radio is growing in popularity on a daily basis and we know they have huge plans for the future.
There are more people, promotion companies, media houses etc who are doing well and are being supported. I needed to present the support levels to show that although the scene may seem fragmented and in need of ‘help’, it is actually doing better that most think it is.
Does this mean it doesn’t need more support? Of course not. There is a lot more we can and should be doing to support ‘our scene’ in its growth.
To do this we need to know where the scene can grow to.
There is no reason why soca can not be the headline act at all popular, mainstream festivals in the UK.
Lets look at some facts. We all stand behind the idea of #PushDeSocaGlobal and it has worked. Soca is global. It is starting to grab the attention of the ‘big wigs’ and appear on popular billboards alongside ‘mainstream’ music.
The collaborations which well known artistes such as Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin are doing with ‘mainstream’ artists and production houses such as Major Lazer, Ariana Grande, Sean Paul, Boys 2 Men etc is firmly putting soca on the global stage.
The natural progression of this is soca grabbing the attention of (larger) businesses who want to make money off the back of the next, ‘new, hot’ genre of music. Don’t be surprised when you hear about Bunji or Machel playing at Glastonbury!
So. Others/outsiders/non-soca entities will embrace, promote and push soca and help it on its global quest (is this not what we wanted). They will make money from it. They will try to own it and they will not give a second thought to the current scene (as we know it). They may never attend a Soca Frenzy, a Busspepper, a CNM boat party. They may never tune into Bakahnal Radio and here’s the kicker…they don’t need to.
They have the funds, the contacts (have you tried to get a stage at Glastonbury), the outlets (mainstream radio stations, TV channels) and huge large media buying spend (billboards, pay-per-click campaigns, newspaper adverts etc). They have been doing this to music for years. Look at the the history of Hip-Hop, RnB, Funky House, Afrobeats etc scenes.
Unless we have something to offer them, they will not give us a second of their time.
What can we do about it?
- We have to be ready to ‘ride the wave’.
- We need to be sensible with how we work together. Put the egos aside and focus on the common goal.
- We have to be in a position to grab the mainstream hype which is coming.
- When we grab the hype we have to know how to use it to benefit all.
- We have to collectively have our shit in order and a consumable format.
Corporate companies will also be looking to ‘cash in’ on this new wave. We need to have our proposals ready to present to them.
Large media houses will be looking for content about our scene to put in their various media publications. We have to have positive content ready to share with them. This includes our artistes. We need to be behind them, supporting them, pushing them into the glow of the mainstream light. (If we aren’t doing it, why should anyone else.)
We need to attend as many events as possible (the more varied the better). The better a promotion company does, the more it can reinvest in the scene.
Promotion companies need to do the responsible thing and look at the scene as a whole and not just from a self-profit point of view.
There are some events this year which have huge potential. Tabanca Weekender and Soca Music Festival for example. Tabanca Weekender is all about unity and has brought together a lot of the scenes big names to help put on this event which is an expose of what the UK has to offer in a box. The Soca Music Festival is an event which large companies will look for and expect to see from a scene. The more we support these events, the more control we will have over our scene.
This was my 2p worth. I don’t have all the answers but I am very willing be a part of the solution.