|Damian Marley's Stony Hill album cover|
Since the July 21 release of his fourth solo studio album Stony Hill, Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley admits that his focus is less on album sales and more on sharing his music with fans through live performances and digital streams.
Popular digital music outlets such as Tidal — of which Marley is part owner — iTunes, Spotify, Amazon MP3, Google Play, Pandora, 8tracks, Shazam, Apple Music, and more, have diminished the need for physical music forms like compact disc (CDs), vinyl records, and cassettes. However, digital music streams are now overtaking these popular downloading platforms.
Weighing in on the issue, Damian Marley conveys his perspective. “I feel it [digital music streams] is the way of the future whether we like it or not. So the best thing to do is to be aware of that and to align yourself with that kind of meditation because the world does go on,” says Marley.
“When I started doing music way back it was all about the physical copies, which is something I really loved because me like have the booklet to read the lyrics and the credits. But there is a next generation growing up now that never experienced that. It’s all about looking at your phone and experiencing music through your devices. That’s the reality of the world. Streaming is the new frontier and more and more the numbers are showing that. Physical sales are going down. People aren’t even paying to download music now as much as they used to. So iTunes download sales are down, but their streaming numbers are up. So, you either accept that or you don’t; but if you don’t accept it you ah go lose,” shares a candid Marley.
According to a 2016 article posted on Forbes.com, the music industry is already conforming. “Recently, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) changed the methodology by which albums are certified gold and platinum… In the new structure, 150 streams of a song equals one paid download, and ten paid downloads equates to an album download. So, an artist’s music will have to be streamed on any of the approved, included services 1,500 times for an album “sale” to be counted.”
Gong also points out the consumer’s advantage in the digital streaming world. “When you think about it, what you pay for one album gives you a monthly access to every album ever made.”
However, based on audience reaction from his recent unprecedented extensive tour of Africa, Marley, received reassurance that music is best conveyed in person. “More time when artiste go to Africa, you might play on one or two shows then you leave and go back home. But what I’ve been saying over the years is why can’t we tour Africa the same way we tour the US or Europe. It was a challenge, but we were able to put six states together and we really hope that we can continue to build on that.”
“Even going to Africa... I noticed the world is more in touch with each other than they were 10 years ago. You can be in Africa and you know exactly what is happening in Jamaica. So you no longer have that time lapse like when you were waiting on physical copies to reach,” explains Marley.
Junior Gong’s 18 track record album, Stony Hill, released 12 years after his revered Welcome to Jamrock album, debuted at number one on the Billboard Reggae album chart. His brother Stephen Marley is featured on “Grown and Sexy”, Perfect Picture” and “Medication”; the latter being one of the more hard-hitting and popular efforts from the album. Bounty Killer’s son Major Myjah, who collaborated on “Upholstery”, is the only other act featured on the album. Entitled Stony Hill, the neighbourhood where Marley was raised, is also the name of his medical marijuana dispensary in the United States – Stony Hill Corporation.
The 39-year-old Marley is continuing his work with reggae act Kabaka Pyramid. Gong looks forward to sharing his messages of triumph, motivation and prosperity from Stony Hill through future performances in his hometown Jamaica and other performances across the world for the remainder of 2017.