Getting to the top - Artistes, manager talk strategy

 SINCE recording his breakthrough single Winner in 2008, singer Konshens has maintained a presence in the dancehall spotlight with a steady stream of hits.

Konshens’s biggest hits include Gal A Bubble, Good Girl Gone Bad, Forward, Represent and Realest Song. His latest album, Mental Maintainance, has topped several iTunes charts.

 The 27-year-old singer points out that it is not an easy job to stay alive in a competitive market.

“There is no set method in achieving hit singles for me, I practically live in the recording studios looking for the next hit song,” he told Splash. “Frankly, I can never know which song will be a hit or miss.”

This is a familiar scenario in the dancehall where careers are determined by the number of hit singles an artiste can deliver.

Robert Livingston, CEO of Big Yard Music Group, knows this story well, having worked with top-selling artistes Shaggy, Super Cat and Maxi Priest.

“The entertainers that maintain ongoing success are sometimes the ones who do not write a song that is suitable to them but write for their fans,” Livingston explained.

He added: “It is not always what you want as an artiste. It is about observing the market and producing songs that people want to hear.”

According to Livingston, it is hard to say why many artistes fail to achieve that break musically despite many years in the business.

“Some artistes may never have the right investors or management team. Shaggy was extremely lucky to have a team that is dedicated to present him as a lasting artiste,” he explained. “I took risks that some investors wouldn’t.”

Livingston stated that it was not always about charttopping hits for Shaggy. He said he experienced several setbacks.

“There was a long gap between (hit songs) Oh Carolina and Boombastic and we lost the deal with Virgin Records shortly after releasing the album Midnight Lover,” he recalled. “He never took a break from the recording studios, though. He was releasing a host of singles then along came the album Hot Shot.”

Hot Shot sold over seven million units in the US, thanks to the massive hits It Wasn’t Me and Angel.

Some of the most durable acts in dancehall are Coco Tea, Barrington Levy, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Lady Saw, and Buju Banton.

All have had careers lasting over 20 years.

Others, like Jeffrey Campbell, commonly known as Assassin/Agent Sasco, have been recording for more than a decade.

His songs such as Hand to Mouth, Doh Make Mi Hold and Just A Talk how Mi Feel have been well received by reggae and dancehall fans.

However, insiders are baffled why he has still not achieved that big break. “The truth is, I honestly don’t know. All I can say is I have done my part and it is sometimes easy to blame external forces when things are not going your way. But that is not my style, so I will continue to do me,” he responded in an interview with Jamaica Observer in January.

He was quick to point out that losing focus or quitting the business has never entered his mind.

“I am improving every year and hopefully will continue to do so. So it’s only a matter of time, one song away... make that one chorus away,” he said.

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