The transnational in the global cultural economy: the case of Australian dancehall

Kim Spence

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    Dancehall music has been enjoying international popularity since the early 1990s, particularly in the USA and the UK, the first and fourth largest music markets in the world respectively (IFPI 2018). The gap between the earnings and international prominence of international reggae artists and Jamaican reggae artists have been noted in policy and industry literature (Tom Fleming Consultancy 2016, Meschino 2017, 2016, 2008, Dresinger 2011). Few have engaged with this earning gap topic within academic literature on reggae and the creative industries (De Beukelaer & Spence 2018, Sterling 2016, Ingram 2014, James 2014, 2008, 2001). However, there is a growing realization within the interdisciplinary space that these earning gaps could be systemic and reflective of the workings of the global cultural economy (Belfiore 2018, De Beukelaer & Spence 2018, Mbaye & Dinardi 2018, Meschino 2017). Such realization has resulted in a re-evaluation of intellectual property right infringement and piracy in the development of cultural industries within the Global South (De Beukelaer & Fredriksson 2018, Shin 2017, Fredriksson 2014, Lobato & Thomas 2012a, Lobato 2010, Barnard & Tuomi 2008). In this presentation I add to this body of literature, an in-depth case study of how such a gap occurs, with an analysis of the ongoing translation of dancehall within the Australian space. Australia is a fairly minor market for both reggae and dancehall and music in general accounting for 2% of the music market share. The Caribbean music market share has been miniscule accounting for less than 0.1%. I interview stakeholders on both (national) sides of the Australian dancehall scene, including dancers, artistes, DJs and promoters and examine secondary data such as industry publications to demonstrate the importance of geography and the concomitant inequity of consumption platforms within the international music industry, even within a relatively minor Global North market relative to an innovative Global South cultural industry. Given the popularity of creative industries-led development models within the Caribbean region, this presentation proposes the need for national cultural policy to address transnational disadvantages of ‘second movers’ within the global cultural economy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages24
    Publication statusSubmitted - 2019


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