MX Prime, performing at Breakfast Is 2017
By Adanna Austin
Photographer Cleon Henry
Caribbean | Monday 26 June 2017: 8:08 BST
In 2009, only a handful of soca artists understood the importance of having a music video. They were few and far between, and they represented the best of the industry. In those times, making a video was an added expense that not every soca artist could afford. Even in the last few years, many of the videos in existence for soca songs were ‘lyrics videos’, where you just saw an animation of the song’s lyrics as the song played.Fast-forward to 2017, and most, if not all, artists have a video to accompany at least two or three of their songs. Why? Because it helps the audience stay connected to the music, and it’s a vital part of their marketing strategy especially when competing on the international stage. Few if any calypso artists recognised the importance of the video. The great legend Kitchener had some foresight and saw the importance of creating visual accompaniments for Run, Tokyo Band and Bees Melody. His comrades might not have been as visionary, but the craze would soon catch on. Now, both young and old have soca videos. From Calypso Rose to Aaron Duncan - one of the youngest soca stars - the video is almost ubiquitous in 2017.A video is an essential tool in any artist’s arsenal, to stay a cut above the rest. A soca video transcends not just the music and the lyrics but gets the audience involved in the story. So popular are music videos now, that fans are also creating parodies of them using nothing but their mobile devices; have you seen the parody of 2017 Road March, We Jamming Still? It’s a testament to the power of video in this age of soca, and why it is such a memorable medium.Artists continue to push the boundaries, finding new ways to reach their audience and captivate attention each year, and video has definitely become one of the best ways to do so. In 2017, we not only heard but experienced their power when artists including Destra, Voice and Machel launched a new song and dropped a video immediately, instead of after the usual months’ wait. It’s now much more accessible, even for those with limited budgets, to create their own videos; with the popularity of live streaming on mobile devices, some artists are simply relying on capturing live footage of their performances. Many of the videos may be found on YouTube and or the artist’s website, and can be easily embedded into social media. This is giving artists a wider reach, not only across the Caribbean but globally. A quick search on YouTube will find videos of some kind from most soca artists across the Caribbean. As soca artists work to keep up with international standards, plus try to be relevant for 12 months of the year, artists like Peter Ram, Destra and King Bubba recognise that they are not only competing with their counterparts. They’re trying to capture the imagination of an audience who are constantly hooked on live streaming videos of their favourite international stars such as Beyonce, Chance the Rapper and Rihanna. For these reasons, they realise that the music is not enough. The world is evolving into a more immediate one, where seeing is believing and seeing is everything.