There is no doubt that when it comes to talent in Jamaica, there is a big pool, but according to television host and music industry insider Donovan ‘JR’ Watkis, there is a bigger knowledge gap as it relates to strategies for turning entertainment into a business that, essentially, makes money.
Earlier this year, Watkis published his third book titled Culture Capital to Financial Capital: Reggae-Dancehall, which explored the strategies on how to use culture to one’s competitive advantage.
“Following the release of my book, it became even clearer how much people did not understand. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered, like, how does one turn this thing called Brand Jamaica, our culture, into tangible assets, and how do artistes turn their intellectual property into real value, and where does the real money come from in music and entertainment on a whole?” he said.
Watkis added: “It was always a plan to turn the book into a documentary, which we will do at [a] later time. Now, it has caught the eyes of the good people at the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) who thought it good to bring the content into their programming on its cable TV channel, Caribbean Business Exchange (CBX).”
He, along with Think’Ed Media, will embark on the new project with the JSE, an interview series that will zoom into Jamaica’s entertainment sector through the eyes of several leading acts across the creative industries, including film, dance, and music this month.
It has been named the Entertainment Business Show. The first episode will air on Sunday, October 23, at 8 p.m. on FLOW channel 143 and channel 28 on Digicel+ in 30 markets across the Caribbean, including Jamaica.
Being at the forefront of music streaming since the launch of his streaming chart, World Music Views, in 2018, he has been privy to some of the inside stories of several professionals. He has learnt more about the distribution and patterns of earnings within the music industry.
Watkis shared: “I’ve always thought that the business of entertainment, the orange economy, which is a billion-dollar industry all over the world, was something we needed to tap into here in Jamaica. However, we do see that it is a lot of hype and vanity metrics leading our entertainment sector, especially in music. It’s based on who gets the most likes, and truth be told, you can’t bring likes to the bank.”
He said that the limited interview series would feature professionals with a proven track record of success in the entertainment industry worldwide, some of whom were interviewed for his book, but he did not reveal who. Watkis is also adding the finishing touches to another book.
“It is a book of reviews; reviews of old and new albums and how they impacted the music industry, such as Bob Marley’s Catch A Fire, which only sold 14,000 copies overall in its first year. We see where the music industry has flipped from selling records to streaming, and YouTube has totally changed the landscape in Jamaica. There is so much to be explored,” he said.
JSE’s Managing Director Marlene Street Forrest said the show is significant to have, especially in the current entertainment business climate.
“CBX has moved so early in the life of the station to have an Entertainment Business Show to focus attention on how our rich and vibrant entertainment culture can be monetised to bring value not only to directly involved but to indirect beneficiaries of the industry. This is where many Jamaicans have a passion and see their ‘promise’; hence a focus on the economic value of entertainment is a necessity. There is a void which we believe we can fill through this programme,” Forrest said.
As to why the JSE chose Watkis and Think’Ed Media to produce and host the show, she said that it was owed to more than one characteristic.
“Donovan Watkis was chosen as he understands the impact of the business focus that is necessary to educate and stimulate persons within the industry and the broader economy to grow the sector. He is youthful, energetic, and relatable and has the ability to get key players communicating on and about the sector. He has demonstrated his knowledge, enthusiasm, and purpose through his writings with the notable book Cultural Capital to Financial Capital. The Business Entertainment Show will be filled with rich content backed by an entertaining and engaging host.”
The lady at the helm of revolutionising Jamaica’s Capital Markets and Stock Exchange continued, “The show will be entertaining, educational, moving the needle upward on the importance of monetising entertainment and culture; changing mindset and ultimately improving the players and the country’s inflow from this industry and an improvement in our return on investment.”
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