Kenny Desmangles Should Join Disip

Some people may have assumed, unrightfully so, that I have an issue with Kenny F. Desmangles, especially after they had read my commentaries on his decision to leave Zenglen.

Not at all and absolutely not. I do not have an issue with the artist. The thing is, though, I admire his talent too much to be able to tell him what others won’t –maybe for the sake of complacency, or they want to tell him what he wants to hear [even when what he wants to hear is very destructive for his music career].

Like me or not, I have one obligation, and that is to tell you the honest truth. Now, what you choose to do with it, after I put it out raw to you, is your business.

It has been noise that the artist’s next move beyond Zenglen could be his solo career, especially after he had dropped this banging solo album entitled Full Sèvis [I highly recommend it; it’s very good].

Well, I object to such idea for the simple fact that going solo in Konpa is recipe for career suicide. He needs to be in a band. Otherwise, he can kiss his music career goodbye.

Before all you Konpa analysts refute my objection, I want you to tell me one Konpa solo artist who made it in the business. Well, for the sake of being optimistic, maybe Kenny will be the first to defy the norm; you never know.

Another chatter out there has it that he will reassemble 509. If this is, indeed, his plan going forward, he needs to be very honest with himself and his supporters to see if this is the best and most advantageous move for him. If I were to advise him, I would tell him not to let his short-sightedness and foolish ambitions guide him to embark on this dead-end journey.

Okay, Emann Joasil, you don’t think going solo or reconstructing 509 is the best decision for him, we understand that. But what in your opinion he should do?

Good question! As I briefly stated earlier, he needs to be in a band. There is absolutely no question about that. But which one of them, though? That is exactly the million-dollar question we need to tackle.

In my opinion, Disip is the perfect fit for him. What makes you think so, Emann Joasil?

Okay, let me explain. In Disip he will be next to Gazzman Couleur, a career vocalist, a superstar, someone having nothing to prove anymore in the business and with whom he will not have to worry about finding himself in competition for stardom and influence. Any of these other bands he would integrate, he will find himself caught up in futile, childish, and stupid competition with this other vocalist he will be standing next to, which will have negative drawbacks on the band’s upward progression and forward mobility. That’s a sad reality we cannot overlook if we want to be accurate in our analysis.

Also, in Disip these two guys will establish a complementary relationship –exactly like it was in Nu Look with Gazzman and Arly –which will make it possible for the two of them to shine together. He complements Gazzman just like Gazzman complements him. Gazzman is a stage animal, he is not quite. Yet, he is a great producer, arranger and composer; Gazzman is not quite. He can handle the Konpa Love tunes better than Gazzman can [I presume]; Gazzman can handle the uptempo tunes way better than he can [I presume]. That is what is called a complementary relationship.

Kenny Desmangles will have to come out some time soon to tell us what his next move will be. I am hoping he makes the best move for himself. In the meantime, I am calling on Gazzman to meet up with him for lunch to talk business. Gazzman needs to make him a juicy or sweet offer he cannot refuse, and it must be on paper.

We have to conserve and protect the artist. It will hurt me to see such a talent vanishing in the firmament like so many talented artists before him because of “bad” decisions. I have nothing to gain in his success or lose in his failure. As a concerned observer and lover of Konpa, I was only brainstorming on a situation that pertains to a young artist of my generation. That’s all. Well, what do I know?

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Haitian Music: The Gangsters In The Media Are Destroying The Business

This unregulated Haitian music market, which we dare calling an industry, is at its deliquescence point as we speak; if nothing is done urgently to turn things around, in the next decades or so, we may not have what we are so enjoying today –whatever it is.

I will be blogging a lot on issues pertaining to our music world. But today, for the sake of spiking a conversation, I am going to touch on this very pertinent issue having to do with these media personalities soliciting money from these artists to play their songs on their radio shows and/or help in the promotion of their music on other venues.

Without a doubt, we have very few radio show hosts promoting Haitian music on their shows not demanding that the artists or bands pay a fee to have their songs played on their shows. A good bunch of them, even some of these folks working at these “radyo pirats” (these radio stations operating illegally) would not play your music on their shows unless you accept to “jere” them (pay them money) or whatever. Everybody is on hustling mode.

These entertainment show hosts, for the most part, are bought and owned to promote even bands or artists producing subpar music. These folks can never be themselves to tell the truth, educate the people and constrain these artists to use their God-given talents to produce music worthy of airplay.

For these show hosts, credibility is  no longer part of the game; it forever becomes a matter of extrapolation or “voye monte” for a few bucks. They get paid to hype bands and artists whose substanceless music should have been thrown in the garbage.

Today, even these administrators or owners of these Konpa websites are killing the artists. Thanks for these social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc… now there is a way to bypass all of them and get oneself out there.

I still cannot fathom why is it that, in the age of Facebook and Twitter, most of these Haitian artists still believe in the myth that they have to have their music pushed on the radio by these show hosts and their promotion handled by these Konpa websites to make it in this business. This is a myth that must be debunked. One can very well do without them.

Let’s face it… this so-called Haitian music industry has no real money to be made in it to begin with, how can anyone think they can be so demanding? I remember a few years back I contacted this administrator of one of these Konpa websites to have the poster of a band I was working with posted on his website, dude asked me close to 600 dollars for like three weeks of display. Are you kidding me? I don’t mind you charging, but damn!!! Be reasonable at least!!! After that encounter, I said to myself, “Nah, something has got to be done. I will do whatever in my human power to expose this institutionalized gangsterism.”

If the artists go to great lengths and fight tooth and nail to produce an album, before that album even hits the distribution points, thousands of bootlegged copies would be out there being shared and even sold illegally in the black market. So they are running on a deficit way before they even get to come out and start crawling.

There is no real money to be made in this music production business as I stated earlier, yet some of these unrealistic show hosts and Konpa website owners refuse to understand the reality of the business and the struggle these artists must go through in order stay afloat. That explains why it avers extremely hard for these upcoming bands and artists to get any real spotlight and exposure necessary for their forward progression; hence, only these already-established artists and bands with some type of name recognition you see occupy the landscape, even though they are doing nothing but engaging in production recycling or “bouyon rechofe,” displaying no sense of respect for the consumers.  This dire reality kills great talents and stalls the spirit of creativity in the business.

Because of this disheartening situation, these show hosts and website administrators have amassed a great deal of power and influence in the business, causing the musicians to have to lose their dignity and even have to go as low as engaging in flattery just so their music could be blessed with a little airplay on their shows and a little exposure on their websites, which in my opinion is not right.

While in the US market the artists get paid each time their songs get broadcasted on the radio or else, in the Haitian music market, it is the other way around; the artists must pay members of the media for that. Isn’t it ironic? And you expect these artists to make a comfortable living?

In conclusion, this piece is far from being an attempt to destroy anyone’s business; it is, rather, a call to reason and sympathy.  It also offers an opportunity to tell these artists that there are ways to bypass these robbers and get their business out there. This Haitian music market should not be the way it is. These mercenaries in the business will not change their deceitful mannerism unless they are forced to do so. Until they decide to pursue a different course, the artists must bypass them and use the technologies they have available at their disposal to market themselves. If they give their very best to product great music (music with no expiration date on; music that can transcend generations) and use all the right technologies to get themselves out there, nothing can stop them. Instead of them chasing people, people will be chasing them.  You can never go wrong with these social networking sites, if you really know how to make good use of them. Remember this, Barack Obama, the president of the United States, won the presidential election in 2008 because of his sublime use of the internet, mainly these social networking sites. If he could do it so big then, so can you today. You just have got to believe.

IS TI JOE ZENNY HOMOPHOBIC?

Ti Joe Zenny of Kreyol La

What’s the beef between NU LOOK’s ARLY LARIVIERE and KREYOL LA’s TI JOE ZENNY really about? I guess this back-and-forth nonsense between these two is taking a whole different route, apparently.

I was reading Kompamagazine and stumbled on an answer given by Fabrice Rouzier to a question on the nature and significance of the beef between the aforementioned two; he said: “Ti Joe is walking on a wire with this one. Yes , he is the actor with the funny lines and all but i think the homophobic line may get him in trouble. If i were Arly, i’d ask him what his real problem is with gay men or women?”

How did I miss that homophobic remark of his? I guess I did not dig deep enough. Did he call ARLY a “masisi” (Creole word for gay) or something? Okay… if so, so what ARLY was gay!!!! Does his gayness impact his ability to produce hits after hits on every single album? Does his gayness make him less of a human being to dare taking on TI JOE as a challenge in a trash-talk contest? I don’t think so. So what does his homophobic remark have to do with any strife between him and Arly?

This is the type of ridiculousness we need to correct when these guys tend to forget that they cannot be saying things just for the fun of saying things. When you are an artist, a public figure for that matter, you are so influential that your words, statements and behaviors can negatively or positively impact an entire society because you have people looking up to you. That’s why you have got to be ultra careful.

I did not read TI JOE’s homophobic jab thrown at ARLY, but I do trust FABRICE’s honesty in his reference. I think TI JOE needs to exercise a little bit of political correctness next time, if he needs to avoid drawing unnecessary attention to himself and the band he is a member of.

KONPA DIREK IS DOOMED WITHOUT ITS HISTORY

Nemours Jean Baptiste, father of Konpa Direk

If Nemours Jean Baptiste could use his musical ingenuity to create and leave behind for us Haitians something as precious and valuable as Konpa Direk, this musical genre we all love so much, there is no reason as to why we should not develop and expand its portfolio.

The history of the evolution of Konpa Direk, the Haitian people’s most popular musical genre, is yet to be documented; it is still in its oral state.

After over 50 years of the creation of the music, there is not much one can find out there in terms of written historical facts on its origin and evolution.

There are no scholarly written documents or books one can put their hands on to satiate their crave for knowledge about Konpa Direk. We only have a few guys here and there, Mario Devolcy is one of them, showing off their knowledge whenever someone cares enough to interview them. This is not the way it should be.

If we dream to see our music going somewhere in the future, we need to start building the library of Konpa Direk. And the most effective way to do so is by documenting the facts about the music, which we are not doing effectively as of yet.

The history of our Konpa Direk, as I stated above, unfortunately, is still in its oral state. Nothing is being documented, and that is after half of a century of its birth. What are we waiting for to make it happen? Are we waiting for the “Blancs” to come do it for us as they did for our history as a people? We know already all the lies they have reported about our history, so the idea of having them write for us the history of our Konpa would be foolish to say the least.

If I am to research on the history of Konpa Direk, and I decide to go to my city library or my university library to collect books on the music -to enable me to document my work -would I find anything to ease the burden and facilitate my work? I strongly doubt it. Yet, you bet if I am to research on the history and evolution of Jazz, Rock and Roll, Blues, R&B or Rap, I will find an array of written documents. If I refuse to give in to the obvious lack of available documents and decide to break all the barriers and move forward with the research, I will have to interview a guy like Mario Devolcy, whom I consider as a Konpa oral historian, and have him empty his brain to me until he passes out.    

Nothing took place if it was not documented. We need to keep that in mind. It is not too late to reengage and move the history of our music forward, meaning from its oral to literary state for the generations to come to have a foundation they can be proud to build on.

I would not mind volunteering my service in whatever capacity for the realization of such project, and I am certain others would be delighted to take part in it. After over 50 years of the existence of Konpa Direk, it is despicable to still have its history in its oral state. We need to be publishing the facts about the music –from its inception to what it has become today. So I am thinking of a way we can make that happen. I see someone like Mario Devolcy as a living resource. We can work with him to help us to make the idea of publishing the books on the history of Konpa Direk become a matter of reality. Are we waiting for him to expire before we can start working on that? I hope not as such effort is long overdue.

BLUEPRINT FOR SUCCESS FOR HAITIAN BANDS

Harmonik's Nicky, Sanders and Mac D

This is an eight-step document designed to help the bands in the Haitian music business to reach the threshold of success. These bands or musical formations are so poorly structured and managed that it must not surprise anyone that they are not doing as great as they should. But there is a chance for them to turn things around; they just have to be flexible and adaptive to reform.

If you are a band owner or someone who is planning on putting a band together, here are the things I think you must do to prevent your business from falling in the hole of failure and chaos most of these bands in the business have been:

  1. You must have a name to represent and identify your band in the business. Some people think that the choice of a name for a business or product is simple; it is not that simple. This could be the most difficult step. When choosing a name for a business, that name must be meaningful (it must mean something), short, easy to pronounce and easy to remember. It must also be a name you can easily use to create slogans with to help the business in its marketing strategy. If the consumer can sing or repeat the name of your business in a simple slogan, it will stick with imagery.
  2. You have to determine and identify your target markets. That means you have to ask yourself this simple question, who do I want to produce this product for or who will be interested in buying it? Unless you are a dumb investor, I don’t know one person who would invest a capital to produce a product knowing that no one in the market will be interested in buying it. This is a VERY important element. Let’s be honest with ourselves. The entertainment market is so fragmented that it tends to be extremely difficult and even impossible to try to satisfy everyone at once. It is not that there is an industry norm that says you cannot do it, but it will be way better and easier for you to zero on some specific and clear segments of the market. If you identify your target markets early in the process, that will help you to focus on your strategies to reach your goals.
  3. You must have a startup operating budget. Money is everything, especially in the entertainment world. I don’t give a damn how great your band plays; if you don’t have money to finance your operation or execute your plan, you are wasting your time. And my advice to you is to go do something else. Well, if you love being exploited or taken advantage of, you can choose to have someone finance your operation and get paid chunk change while he or she is raking all the papers. It all depends on what you want. Music production costs money -regardless your location on earth. It is a lucrative endeavor; therefore, people want their shares of the pie.
  4. Your lineup must be on point on every front -music, look and style. Try to hire professional and career musicians, not a bunch of amateurs. Experience saves you time, and time is a major factor in the entertainment world as it is an ever-changing landscape. In the look and style department, if your guys need help, and I believe they do, have a stylist on board in your staff or working for you as a consultant to work with them because they have to look appealing and mainstream to the segments of the market you are trying to target. In other words, they have to be trendy. Being trendy has nothing to do with wearing expensive clothing; it has to do, rather, with attitude, charisma, style and confidence. You can have the most expensive garments on and you look like a “gwo soulye,” a “gwayil” or a “madigra mal maske.” So you have got to get it right because what people see does impact how they think and behave.
  5. Take your time to drop a banging product. Don’t be rushing to come out empty-handed. Let your product introduce you to and position you in the business. Brand identity and brand differentiation are two important concepts in marketing. Your product is your resume. It tells a lot about who you are (your identity) and your qualifications (your potentials or what you are capable of doing). So you have to come out with your resume in your hands for the market to take you seriously. That’s how you make impact.
  6. Your marketing must be tight. In addition to points 1, 2, 4 and 5, being all elements of your marketing strategy, your promotion must be exemplary for its aggressiveness. Promotion is all about making noise by any possible means necessary to garner expected positive results. You have to use every single medium out there to promote your brand and product. If you want to maintain a competitive edge over your competitors, you must be willing to go the extra mile and do the things they are not doing. Use your imagination and your creative ability to captivate the attention of the market.
  7. Maintaining media discipline in your media relations strategy is something I often talk about. It is how you deal and interact with the media. The media is very powerful; it can make or break your business in a matter of seconds. You have to be very careful in your dealings or interaction with them. So you have to have someone in your staff or working with or for you as a consultant to be the mouthpiece of your business. You have to maintain discipline within your ranks, meaning you have to be able to control your troops. You cannot have 8 members in a band and each and every one of them thinks they can seize the podium or spotlight at any given time and say things to create PR faux pas and, as a result, place your business in a very uncomfortable position -where you will be spending countless amount of time doing damage control. That’s why you must have one person to talk on behalf of the business. Should someone have to come out to give an interview, that person must be coached and prepared for the event by the PR person. Impression is everything. If you want the market to respect your business, you start off by respecting it first.
  8. You must have a competent staff working with and for the band. I already stress the importance and role of two staffers -the stylist and the PR person.
  • You also need an event bookkeeper. That person’s responsibility is to go out there to connect the band with the promoters or event planners to find and create events for the band to showcase. That person has a huge responsibility. He or she will have to handle the band’s schedule to make sure there is no overlapping in the schedule. He or she is also responsible for making travel arrangements for the musicians so that they can be at their locations on time to perform. You can call that person the point man or woman in terms of who to call to negotiate gigs with or book the band for events. That’s a very powerful position to hold. He or she is like the band’s official salesperson.
  • You will also need an accountant to account for all the cash inflow and outflow for the administration. Whenever there is money flowing around, in whatever line of business, it is always recommended that there is an accountant on board to keep record of all the financial transactions. It is the best thing to do for accountability purposes. That person can be an in-house staffer or an outside contractor. He or she, in due time, can also play the role of a financial adviser to monitor the market and give the manager the best possible financial advice in terms of looking at the pros and cons of making a specific investment.
  • You need a knowledgeable business/entertainment lawyer. You can outsource the service of that person as it could be costly to have such cadre permanently in your staff. You will need to seek legal advice on key legal matters (issues having to do with contract litigation, copyright infringement, so on and so forth). So whenever necessary, you can always have that person to consult with in your decision making apparatus.
  • You must have a band leader, music director, maestro, or however you wanna call him or her. That person is critical for the success of the band. He or she has two important functions –administrative and technical. He or she is the one to go out to recruit musicians to bring on board to meet the vision and objectives set forth by the manager of the band. He or she is the chief of the technical staff of the business –the musicians. His or her job is to technically prepare the band’s schedule for rehearsal sessions, select the songs that will be in the band’s live repertoire, work in the studio with the musicians on the structure and making of the songs to be featured on the band’s album and outsource (if necessary) the musicians to contribute to its production, call on the dress code for the musicians for each event, and decide on the point and time of rendezvous as to where and when the musicians are to meet for a specific event. He or she is the only musician to have a permanent seat in the band’s management’s staff meetings to serve as informant or liaison between the musicians (his or her team) and management. This person must have leadership, administrative and technical skills. He or she has to be just as knowledgeable in music structure as he would be in administration and leadership.
  • Last but not least, you need an astute, skillful and professional manager.  This person’s responsibility is extremely huge. This is not someone you hire because he or she claims to have a few dollars in the band, is a good friend or relative of the band’s owner, is a “big boss,” or claims to be influential in the business. He or she must be placed in that position for his or her astuteness, skillfulness, professionalism and leadership skills. He or she plays the role of a coordinator and resource allocator to facilitate the responsibility of each and every staff member. He or she sets the path or objectives in terms of where the band should be heading. He or she endorses, approves of, or appose his or her signature at the bottom of every single administrative decision having to do with the band’s business. Nothing should bypass him or her, for he or she has his or her eyes on every aspect of the business. He or she calls for weekly staff meetings to inform his or her staff and be informed on the band’s activity and operation. Like that, everyone will be on the same sheet of music and playing the same tune. He or she is the leader or the band’s CEO. That person’s sole responsibility is to manage the band as a complete and compact entity and make sure every member of his or her staff does exactly what is expected of them.

I think we need to be doing things differently, meaning the way we are supposed to in this Haitian music business. How can we be competitive when we are doing the same old and archaic things over and over and expecting different and better results, especially when the entertainment world is an ever-changing environment? It is impossible, is it not? We are living in a very competitive global market; therefore, if we cannot be playing right and smart, we are going to be outperformed continuously. And like that, as always, we are going to hold that we are doomed and destined to not be successful in anything, when such is not true. It is our approach to doing things that is preventing us from getting ahead. There is always one right way to do anything. Let’s learn how to do things right and apply what we learn the correct way (without resorting to shortcuts); we will then be amazed to see how exponentially we will progress. I hope this blueprint for success, while it is not perfect, does help all of you to embrace the music business with a revolutionary and winning state of mind.