I never thought that I would see the day when promoters become more significant than sound system. This shit has become a worldwide epidemic. Sound systems have totally lost their pulling power and value to the popularity of so-called dancehall promoters.
Although we tend to cuss about today’s pouched-carrying, non-skilled CD selectors who know nothing about the music and its culture, one must acknowledge where the epidemic stems from. Often we tend to place blame on the wrong set of people. In my opinion, the Round Robin series is what destroyed ‘weekend dancehall’, decreased the booking of international sound systems and open the flood gate for unqualified selectors to pour in. In plain words, the Round Robin series fucked up many aspects of dancehall.
The significant decline in booking that sound systems face today is the sole result of the introduction of the ‘Round Robin’ event partner system to territories outside of Jamaica. Think about it…..years ago the weekend, Friday and Saturday were reserved for major sound system dancehall events. These events included the likes of Stone Love, Metro Media, Bass Odyssey etc. At one point the admission fee for these events range from $30-$35; such events consist of an international sound and one or two local sounds. When the Round Robin partner system was introduced an automatic decline in the patronage for weekend events started to occur. This of course was because Round Robin events were being held during the weekdays (Sunday to Thursday) using the same popular sound systems for a $20 admission. There was much more hype and flossing at Round Robin events quickly making it the weekly place to be. Therefore, why would patrons pay more money on the weekend to see what was being offered to them during the week for a less of a price with more enjoyment. But the damage did not stop there. Round Robin quickly crushed the foreign dancehall market and later turned their back on international sound systems. Once the Round Robin members realize that the support that they were getting for their weekly events was merely because of the hype that the organization was carrying and had very little to do with the sound systems that they were using, they simply turned towards locking out international sounds and using local CD pouchers to play at their events. This was done of course to maximize their profits; no need to pay large fees, airline and hotel travel for two when they could give a CD pouchie $300. By the time the big sounds realized what was happening, the weekend dancehall arena was already beyond repair. So with no bookings from Round Robin establishment and an almost non existence weekend dancehall industry, major sound systems were forced to do one of two things: either significantly reduce their booking fees or stay home which left the dancehall as a playing field for CD pouchers.
So those of you who think that CD pouchers appear out of nowhere, you are wrong!!! We have the Round Robin to thank for their existence
DEFINING THE TERM ROUND ROBIN
Many years ago in Jamaica a system was created in which bar owners came together as a clique and alternate weekly events from bar to bar. For example, if it was Tom’s week everyone in the clique would support the event at Tom’s bar. The following week, the clique would then move to another member’s bar/establishment and do the same thing until everyone got their turn. This was done as a means to keep businesses alive.
In addition to weekly gathering at designated bars, all members paid a weekly fee to be part of the organization. This purse would then to be given to a different member each week; when everyone is granted their chance of the purse the cycle starts again which often attract new members to the organization. The more members are included, the bigger the purse gets and the more events were held.
In plain words, the Round Robin is a support system which solely supports their members and not the growth and betterment of dancehall.