Local radio broadcasters have agreed to give the songs of local musicians more radio play, as long as the songs are up to quality standards.
The issue was one of many discussed at last week’s meeting broadcasters had with Minister of Communications Arden McLean and Information and Communications Technology Authority representatives.
Barrie Quappe, a local musician and immediate past president of the Cayman Music and Entertainment Association is a strong advocate in giving locally produced music sufficient airplay, but also agrees that it should be of high quality.
‘Back in the old days… they played everything (produced by local musicians), even tracks of lower quality,’ Mrs. Quappe said, adding that the playing of those songs of poor musicianship forged the wrong perceptions of local musicians in many people.
‘We are still paying that debt today,’ she said.
Don Seymour, owner of dms Broadcasting which operates three local radio stations, said he has no problem with the playing of songs by local artists on his stations as long as they are good enough.
‘We play all the good local music all the time,’ he said. ‘It’s good for business, as well, because people want to hear great local music.’
However, not all local musicians get played on the dms stations.
‘There are some artists we exclude because we don’t think their [music] quality is high enough,’ he said, noting that the station is presented with thousands of songs from overseas as well which it will not play.
‘We don’t play any Michael Jackson either, not because he isn’t a nice guy, but because he hasn’t had a hit record in a very long time.’
Mrs. Quappe agreed that local artists should get no special treatment when it comes to quality.
‘Why should you treat a piece of local music any different than one from overseas,’ she said. ‘But we should not have a door closed in our face, either.’
Mr. Seymour acknowledged there is some subjectivity in the process.
‘But the decision has to remain with the programme directors of the stations,’ he said. ‘They might make some mistakes because they’re only human, but you can’t allow other [outside] individuals to dictate what the station plays.’
Mr. Seymour said radio stations are private property.
‘It takes millions of dollars to broadcast,’ he said. ‘If the government wants to insist on local music being played, it can make Radio Cayman play 100 per cent local music.’
Mrs. Quappe thinks it is more about giving local artists a fair chance to have their music played on the radio, something she does not feel happened in the past.
There are a lot of very talented local musicians in Cayman now, Mrs. Quappe said, and for their music to continue to develop, they need some commercial success, which radio play can give them.
‘You’ve got some talented young artists out there and if they have to face the closed door that us older people had to face, they’re not going to continue. It’s too discouraging.
‘There will be people who just give up and work in something else, and they won’t be able to follow their life’s dream.’
Mrs. Quappe said musicians should be able to earn a living playing music, and that radio play is vital to doing that.
‘We’re not saying play our music just because it’s local. We’re saying give a chance to those quality products that are out there.’
Both Mrs. Quappe and Mr. Seymour agree that local music should only be played on a station if it matches the format of that station.
‘But you’d be surprised at the variety of music that’s being produced here,’ said Mrs. Quappe.
Based on the discussion at last week’s meeting, radio broadcasters have agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding that will cover the issue of playing local music among other things.
Mr. Seymour said he felt the meeting was very productive. It was agreed that all the local broadcasters would get together with the CMEA and come to an agreement.
‘We essentially agreed to make a deal,’ he said.