Revoked Visas Threaten Income for Reggae Artists and Promoters Alike

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Published on April 13, 2010 with No Comments

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Earlier this month the visas of several very high profile dancehall/reggaae artists were revoked: Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Mavado and Aidonia along with selector Ricky Trooper. With Buju Banton already behind bars, Flippa Mafia facing deportation and local Jamaican artists Busy Signal and Vybz Kartel, already without a valid U.S .visa, promoting a dancehall show seems like

an insurmountable challenge for a promoter. Furthermore, who knows who will be added to the list next thereby threatening the success of any dancehall/reggae show.

Unlike U.S. artists who derive a large part of their income from record sales and royalties, Jamaican artists’ largest stream of income is touring and performing. Sans a visa to travel to the United States, arguably their biggest market, their income stream will dry up significantly. Also at issue is that in order to travel to many other international destinations, one needs to travel through the United States.

The loss of income for promoters can mean millions of dollars in lost revenue. This is also a loss for fans of dancehall for what is a dancehall show without a Beenie, Buju, Bounty, or Mavado? It is rumored that Tony Matterhorn’s visa is being revoked but thus far, the Dutty Whine deejay has received no official notification regarding this matter.

Popular reggae shows such as Best of the Best, Brooklyn Music Festival, NJ Reggaefest, Irie Jamboree all stand to be hard hit by the lack of headliner acts which can result in lack of attendance and, of course, sponsorship dollars.

Dave Rodney, a media and events marketing consultant, told The Star, “It is not good news at all. It comes at a bad time. It comes when tours are being prepared for the summer season,” said Rodney. Rodney has worked with events like Irie Jamboree, World Creole Music Festival, New Jersey Reggae Fest and Sweet Auburn Spring Festival. “The economy is still bad, so concert promoters had already been hurting in terms of trying to bring out maximum numbers. If there are more cancellations, it will be a big blow for the reggae concert circuit.” Rodney said people are already spending less of their income on entertainment. In addition, he said it is hard to get sponsorship for events in the very challenging economy. “It really makes the tour circuit very challenging. It paints a grim situation for reggae,” he told THE STAR.

Many reggaeheads are asking “why now?” Well, the general Conspiracy Theory consensus is that the visas were revoked pursuant to Jamaica’s unwillingness to extradite alleged Drug King Pin Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke. The United States made the extradition request back in August and, the Obama Administration is dissatisfied with the delay. In retaliation, the U.S. decided to hit Jamaica in the pocketbook of these prominent Jamaican music exports. And so goes the theory. We will keep you posted on this ongoing story….

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