Donovan Germain—-

By Davina Henry—-

With the reggae/dancehall industry saturated with artists churning out singles, currently, only a handful have pushed themselves to put out debut albums. Many have opted to continuously release singles and, going a bit further, EPs (extended play projects, which have several songs but fall short of full album length).

Added to that artist and song glut is the effect of digital music distribution, through outlets such as YouTube and iTunes, with the MP3 format easily transferable.While that raises questions about the viability of CDs as a means of music distribution, the value of doing albums also comes in for some doubt. And as the singles and EPs hopefully create a buzz for the new artist, the timing of a debut album is crucial.

Veteran producer Donovan Germain of Penthouse Records is not interested in releasing CDs. “I’m not really into physical CDs anymore, unless it’s an EP. I’ve basically stopped doing physical CDs because of the new technological advancements,” Germain told The Sunday Gleaner.


Still a big market for CDs

However, Juke Boxx CEO and producer, Shane Brown, added that though there is still a big market for CDs, it is even more viable if the artist is on the road doing the circuit. “It’s a fact that more music is being sold via downloads, but there is still a big market for physical CDs – especially if the artist is a touring act. Fans who come out to the shows like to take home a piece of merchandise, whether it’s a CD or even a shirt. So it all comes down to how the artist is marketed or branded, but the wise thing to do is to have the album release coincide with a tour. That way, one can take the product to one’s consumers,” Brown said.

Janine ‘Jah9′ Cunningham, who released her debut album New Name in 2013, told The Sunday Gleaner that although the digital format is more economical, she believes in the physical CD.

“To each his own. I, personally, invest in hard copies of all my work. It is important that a record of the song(s) exists in the physical space and even on vinyl, which allows the fullness of the production to truly shine – especially for live music. The digital versions lack the richness, but they are definitely more cost-effective and convenient,” she said.



Timing crucial

Added to the decision-making process is when to release a debut album and choosing the right songs to include on it. According to Brown, there is no set time for an artist to release a debut album, as it depends on how quickly the market gravitates towards that artist. Germain told The Sunday Gleaner that fans should be calling for an album before a full-length release.

“An artist should make the marketplace demand an album, instead of just releasing one for the sake of having an album out. You can release an album and nobody is interested in it, so you have to ensure that they are clamouring and demanding for one,” he said.

Singer Nickeisha Barnes, who is in the midst of preparing her debut album, acknowledged that it is often hard to find the balance if selecting songs for the debut album, as some songs which are “special” and “personal” to the artist may not be deemed commercially viable or a potential radio hit by the management team.


“I know what it is like to have my songs vetted for commercial purposes versus the artistic component. The artist may have to compromise with their team in putting the body of work together and allow songs which are perhaps not so personal to be used on the album, as they are more airplay friendly,” Barnes said.

Germain wholeheartedly supports artiste putting out EPs instead of albums.

“Some artists put out albums and you don’t hear anything about it. An EP is like a mini-album with a few songs which showcases the quality of the artist. It’s a marketing tool. You’ll be wasting your songs prematurely if you don’t that,” Germain told The Sunday Gleaner.

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