Copeland Forbes on COVID-19’s Impact on the Reggae Music Industry

COVID-19's Impact on the Reggae Music Industry - Copeland Forbes
Copeland Forbes (file photo)

by Howard Campbell

SOUTH FLORIDA – Music industry veteran Copeland Forbes believes it will take more than one year before Jamaica’s reggae product recovers from the coronavirus fallout.

He made the ominous prediction with uncertainty surrounding European summer festivals, which have provided a solid payday for many Jamaican artists over the years.

Forbes, who has booked reggae tours for over 40 years, said the postponement/cancellation of events like Summer Jam in Germany and Rototom in Spain, because of the coronavirus, has worse consequences for the reggae artist than the aftermath of 9/11.

“9/11 was different because it affected mainly New York and the United States. This is affecting the world!” Forbes exclaimed. “Take it from me, no festivals will be held this year. It is going to take a year before things get back to normal.”

Promoters for several of the major events in Europe have adapted a cautious approach as the coronavirus ravages that continent. Germany, Spain, France and Italy, which hosts some of these shows, have been hardest hit, with thousands of deaths reported.

Most promoters have not officially announced cancellations, but Forbes says it is unlikely they will go ahead with their events. He pointed to roots acts like Kabaka Pyramid and Protoje cancelling tours of Europe and North America, to reinforce his argument.

The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Virginia and rural Pennsylvania, were carried out by Muslim terrorists. In its wake, the reggae industry took a beating with many Rastafarian artists targeted at American and European airports because they wore beards and head wraps similar to Muslims.

Since then, Europe has surpassed the United States as reggae’s biggest market, with most countries there hosting a festival featuring Jamaican acts.

Best of The Best in Miami, Beres Hammond’s Love and Harmony cruise and the California Roots Music and Arts Festival, are some of the major events cancelled or postponed in the US due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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