KINGSTON, JAMAICA – After almost one year of persistent efforts, today, March 28th, 2012, is a day to go down in Reggae history books. “The Official Worldwide Reggae Embassy” has finally achieved recognition during the song registration process for Reggae, Dancehall and Soca from BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.), a major performance rights society. This important classification occurs when a writer or publisher registers a song, it is then categorized in the appropriate genre. The above-mentioned genres have never been acknowledged in this process for the lifetime of the company until today thanks to Reggae Embassy executives. This is a huge victory and just the first step in gaining Reggae, Dancehall and Soca music the recognition it deserves within the music industry.
After many calls, letters, emails and even some heated conversations, Reggae Embassy acting Director of Operations, Christina Grand, has accomplished the mission of having Reggae, Dancehall and Soca finally and officially named in the genre category list. This listing is used when publishers and songwriters who are BMI members register their music and lyrics. Even though there was no request to include any of the subgenres of Reggae and Soca, Miss Grand stated that she made a humble request to have at least these main genres recognized, which can encompass the others.
In 1939, BMI was founded as a writer’s society to collect royalties on behalf on writers of music; authors and composers. BMI has been in existence for 74 years and has never formally recognized the genres even though the music has been around long before their company was founded when it was called Mento. Miss Grand stated that she did not do this alone. She expressed her concerns to BMI Executive Director Brandon Bakshi in the London office and he listened. Mr. Bakshi was instrumental in seeing that Ms. Grand’s legitimate and irrefutable requests were granted. He even went a step further and persuaded BMI to add other genre categories such as Roots, and Dub. She further stated that if more unity efforts occur like what transpired with this major milestone, the Reggae Embassy and those who unite with it, can make a positive impact for everyone in the music fraternity of these under-recognized genres.
JACAP Membership Director, Keneisha Hewitt informed the Reggae Embassy that BMI has had a reciprocal agreement with JACAP since 2004 and are responsible to collect royalties for JACAP writers of the above-mentioned genres in the United States. Reggae Embassy executives feel that when BMI entered into the agreement eight years ago, they should have considered the fact they were collecting for a society whose primary focus is within these music genres, and should have added them to the registry. When learning the great news today, Ms. Hewitt and others at JACAP were very pleased with the advancement since Jamaica is the birthplace of two of the three now recognized genres, which are a large reason for JACAP’s existence.
Even though Reggae and Ska are derived from Mento, the organization wanted to ensure at least the “Reggae Category” was there to represent all of the sub-genres, which also includes Rock Steady and Lover’s Rock. Producer “Dizzle” of Geejam Records, who is also the band leader, drummer and musical director of the legendary Mento band “The Jolly Boys” informed the Reggae Embassy that when previously registering songs with BMI, their publishing division only had the option to register them under the categories of “World Music” or “Other.” He has praised the organization for its achievement and is elated that they can now be classified as “Reggae” or “Roots” even though there is not a specific category for Mento.
People throughout the world enjoy Reggae, Dancehall and Soca. Thanks to The Worldwide Reggae Embassy, these genres of music are one step closer to securing full recognition within the music community. Although this is a historic occasion, The Worldwide Reggae Embassy will not rest until Reggae, Dancehall, Soca and all other sub-genres fully achieve the status and recognition it deserves.