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Date: 29 Jun, 2009
Source: Barbados Advocate Business Monday by Randy Howard

The global music industry is worth trillions of dollars and one local business is endeavouring, by partnering with a musical legend, to put Barbados in a position to earn a bigger piece of the pie.

Timeless Barbados Incorporated (Timeless), a local event production and management company well known for putting on the annual Barbados Music Awards, is partnering with singing legend, Regina Belle, to establish a world class record label in Barbados, with the capacity to sign both local and international artists.

Director of Timeless, Ronnie Morris, made it clear that the company “will” be setting up the label, as opposed to saying that they “plan” to do so.

He stated that Barbados has artists who are being signed by American labels and then they are manufacturing their product in America and exporting it from America, thereby contributing to the latter’s economy, in terms of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the capital earned from the export of CDs manufactured there.

“What I want to do is not only sign Barbadian artists and export the product from here, but also sign overseas artists and benefit from the export of their music from Barbados.”

Economic value

Morris argued that if you take an artist that sells over 10 million records and look at this is terms of dollar value, the local economy would gain substantially.

“If the wholesale value of the exportation of a CD is US$10, and you multiply that 10 million, you have $100 million, and that’s just one artist. What if all of that product was exported from Barbados?”

“That’s the real stock behind having a record label taxes staying at home, CDs being exported from  Barbados”.

He also touched on the development of a state of the art facility that would also encourage already established international artists to record some of their music on the island, which also acts as another revenue generator.

“I know Mariah Carey passed through Barbados last month; I think when she came in, if we had had this set up already, with artists spending US$30,000 per track in the United States, we could have benefited significantly if she had recorded three or four tracks while she was here”.

Grammy Award winning artist, Regina Belle, who would be pivotal to the development of the project, and who was here to discuss the project, along with that of setting up a musical academy of sorts, argued that one advantage Barbados possesses is that of a calming and serene atmosphere, which assists some artists in developing the right feel for the delivery of certain songs.

She drew on the example of one of her biggest hits entitled “Baby, Come to Me”, which she stated was recorded in Maui, Hawaii; a decision that was taken because the atmosphere on mainland United States did not suit the feel that she wanted for the song.

“I really wanted more like a home kind of feeling when I recorded it… and it went to number one and that had a lot to do with how I felt when I was delivering the song in an atmosphere in which I felt more comfortable”.

She made the point that given the fact that a lot of African-Americans in particular know about Barbados, or at least the Caribbean region, due to their ancestry in many cases, along with coming to visit on vacation, it would be easier for these artists to embrace the idea of recording here.

Atmosphere

Morris indicated that they are currently looking at real estate, and they are seeking to build a studio in a facility that also possesses a guesthouse or villa type set up, where, “for a fee, and a premium fee, you can stay in Barbados, you can record, and when you’re finished recording or between sessions you can have the luxury of going back to your room and enjoy the relaxing facilities on the property”.

What they are trying to create is the type of environment that would make the artists comfortable and even inspire them to write and create more songs, which would lead to additional recording time that would be beneficial to the local economy given that each additional hour of recording means more money is being spent.

Morris state that they are not looking to compete with the likes of “VP records” or the Trinidad-based “Caribbean Sound Basin”, but rather they want to step to the plate of the larger world renowned labels such as “Jive” and “Def Jam”.

This level of operation brings with it the opportunity of substantial employment for Barbadians in a number of support areas, including graphic artists, producers, songwriters, interior decorators, musicians, among others.