Sami T, co-founder and selector of the renowned Japanese sound system Mighty Crown, has expressed concern over the high performance fees charged by new reggae and dancehall artists in Japan. Despite the country’s decades-long love affair with the genres, changes in the music have led to waning interest.
While many artists succeed in Jamaica, they fail to gain a following in Japan. Sami T emphasized the need for reggae and dancehall to become more visible, stating that artists have a responsibility to help the market grow. However, he noted that new artists are demanding high fees for performances in Japan without having the catalogue, performance experience, or pull to justify such amounts.
“Japan has been a huge supporter of the reggae-dancehall community for decades, but the fees some of these artists are charging to perform here will only further damage the growth,” Sami T said. He urged artists to follow the example set by veterans, who focused on groundwork, touring the country, promoting their music, and developing themselves in the marketplace before charging high fees.
Sami T pointed out that high pricing and low pull-power are detrimental to the reggae-dancehall community in Japan. He also suggested that one of the reasons the industry is struggling in the country is the lack of mentorship and education on the culture for newer sound systems. Although Mighty Crown has announced its retirement, its operators remain committed to mentorship.
According to Sami T, Japan has many talented sound systems but needs mentorship and exposure for their development. He stressed the importance of earning the attention of new music consumers, as the diverse Japanese music scene offers numerous distractions for the youth.
“Our mission has always been to bring the real authentic Jamaican music and culture to Japan and present it in its rarest form, but we recognized a lot has changed [in the interest],” Sami T said. He expressed pride in Mighty Crown’s achievements, as the sound system successfully contributed to the growth of reggae-dancehall culture in Japan and was embraced by the industry and community.