The Frenchman and the downloads


Jean Michel Gibert of TrinidadTunes.com. Photography by Mark Lyndersay

Jean Michel Gibert is the voice that goes unheard in Robin Imamshah' seminal soca song, the Frenchman who has found a new mother country.
For several years in the nineties, he was one of the three movers and shakers in the mainstreaming of rapso at Rituals Music.
"We are still pursuing the original goals of Rituals," said Gibert, "but now we're doing it online. We want our catalogue to reflect all Trinidad and Tobago's music and recorded works."
That goal has brought its own challenges. Preparing the work, checking it for accuracy and delving into the intricacies of web marketing has tested the capacity of Gibert and his team and they are looking for help.
Anyone interested in contacting Gibert about working with the team either full-time or in a consulting, part-time capacity can contact Jean Michel-Gibert via e-mail or by calling him at either 868-625-4823 (work) or 868-681-5363 (mobile).

Demand for the music on the online store is growing rapidly, Gibert says, and the balance in demand has been surprising. Forty percent of purchases have come from locals and the demographic has been surprising, with older customers enjoying the convenience of finding favourite tracks online.
Currently, artists are given a unique code which allows them to track sales of their music online, but there are plans to improve artist input by allowing artists to add their own information on the website and create and foster communities that their fans can participate in.
In previous BitDepth columns, I've argued that the business models that local musicians and their agents pursue simply don't work anymore. For more detail on this, read David Byrne of the Talking Heads here. Hapless efforts by COTT to meet pirates head on with custom music CDs were doomed before they began. And every year, dozens of calypsoes, many of them promising works. simply disappear, unheard, unheralded and unknown in tents that are poorly patronised.

Here's what I'd like to see TrinidadTunes.com tackle this year.
Live tent recordings of unrecorded calypsoes and political commentary, offered online at reduced rates (quality is likely to be only fair without extended post-production) as soon as tents open. Some calypsonians may even wish to offer their songs for free, a move that's likely to improve their potential audience, drive traffic to the tents and improve interest in TrinidadTunes.com.
Live, off the soundboard recordings of Panorama performances encoded and posted the day after the competitions.
Live, off the soundboard recordings of Dimanche Gras performances by calypsonians.
In our interview, I articulated many of these possibilities to Jean Michel and he did his little Frenchman's smile and shrug, taking notes as I talked.
"These are very good ideas, Mark," he said, "but who is going to do this?"

So that's why I've posted this addendum to the column, inviting participation by skilled IT professionals, tech people, digitally savvy sound techs and anyone interested in the footwork that's necessary to spark local and international interest in the local music industry.
To record off the board music at Panorama, Pan Trinbago is going to have to become very tech savvy very quickly and realise the potential of global sales of pan performances in the heat of the Carnival season. COTT is going to have to become very aggressive and smart about negotiating contracts that allow this music to be distributed without snags and with appropriate reward to performers, arrangers and composers.
And a smart recording team is going to have to monitor the feed off the sound board, jockeying the signal for quality while another encodes the signal and uploads it to the website.
So everyone who claims to love this mother country and say that they're willing to shed blood for it? Well, this is an opportunity to put some sweat equity into putting Trinidad and Tobago's music on the world stage, on par with the best efforts of Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.
What say you?
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