Choops|Where do we go from here?

"Choops Man"|Culture Appreciation Dilemma!
Twice-crowned Calypso Monarch Singing Sandra gave one of her best performances to date recently at the Mas Camp Pub in Woodbrook. This was at the monthly concert organised by the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO).

Sandra performed during the second half of the show in which she did a number of popular songs. She started off with the Ras Shorty I composition "Watch Out My Children". Members of the band performed solos during this number.

Sandra also had the entire audience singing along with her and it was one of her best performances of this timeless classic. She told the audience, "Shorty I asked me to keep this song in my repertoire so the message will live on and I felt honoured."

Please read the full story at the link above to get a better understanding of the story and the special performance that Singing Sandra delivered. Now we get to the reason for this post and the reference to the article link above. The Nigerian High Commissioner Musa John Jen and his guests were so impressed that they showered Sandra with money - literally, to show their appreciation for her performance.

OK, now comes the good and the bad and the question, "where do we go from here?" There were five comments to the article posted by the Express Newspapers - Let's take a look at two of the comments:

trinitodebone said yesterday at 4:04 PM
"It is time TUCO start creating DVDs for sale on these performances, or better yet put them on You-tube. Too much of the culture is not properly marketed, isn't TUCO supposed to be promoting the culture worldwide?"

Followed by:

David E said yesterday at 8:10 PM
"trinitodebone, I totally agree with you, but don't expect the Trnis at home to buy it! It must be marketed to the Trinis in foreign. Carnival DVDs too! Is mostly Trinis in foreign that pay for the culture. That is why you will NEVER find a carnival parade DVD in any store in Trinidad. Ah lie?"

Having read these two comments and properly digesting the contents how do you feel about the comments? Do you believe that we are only consumers of the culture only during 'festival time' and by that I mean during carnival and that we only consume the music but don't buy the music and videos?
Do you believe that there isn't a market for the music and video media in Trinidad and Tobago to make it viable at home?. On the other hand do you believe that trinitodebone is correct? To be honest with you (and I might be totally wrong) I tend to agree with trinitodebone.

I believe this to be true because I listen to WACK Radio ( daily. This is the only total local radio station broadcasting in Trinidad and Tobago (with over 40 stations and counting) and they struggle for local support in the form of advertising dollars and listener-ship. Some people I have spoken to don't even know about WACK radio. Isn't that amazing? Well on the other hand WACK has listener-ship all over the World and the majority of people who really appreciate this station (and the culture) are Trinidadians living overseas. Something is really wrong with this picture.

So where do we go from here? How do we get the Trinidadians at home to think like the Trinidadians living overseas? Is it a case of feeling homesick that these overseas Trinis cling to WACK or is it a real appreciation for the culture? Well in my case it is a little of both. However, I believe that the failure of the culture to grow and take hold of the populace is a marketing problem. The local radio stations follow the money and the young people listening to the radio stations have an appetite for everything foreign. Notice that I said young people and it should be noted that the listener-ship of WACK radio is a mature audience compared to the successful and revenue generating stations in Trinidad and Tobago.

I still believe we have a marketing problem that needs to be addressed. The owners of the radio stations must meet with the producers of the local music and find a way to get the young people involved in local content. We don't want legislation to get a percentage of airtime for local culture because we could end up seeing "pay for play" taking hold of the industry. We have a long way to go and we are losing the battle. Time to fight back and spread the word that our local music is not just good but great!

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