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Sumfest Supports Sting's Stance (Sizzla, D'Angel Ban){HeadLines}

Following the move by Isaiah Laing and his partner Heavy D to ban recording artistes Sizzla Kalonji and D'Angel from Sting because of distasteful displays onstage at Sting 30, co-promoter of the equally iconic festival, Reggae Sumfest, Robert Russell, says he hopes up-and-coming artistes will learn from the response of the promoters.

Russell says it is unfortunate when recording artistes act irresponsibly when they are in the possession of a microphone, despite being briefed on what is expected of them prior to giving them the platform to provide entertainment.

"It's disappointing when you expect the artistes to work to contribute to the better good of the event and they don't," Russell told The Sunday Gleaner.

The promoter says irresponsible artistes are bad for business and have made it extremely difficult for promoters to tie down sponsorship because brands are very selective of what or who they form business relationships with.

In Sting's case, the Jamaica Tourist Board was sponsoring the event for the first time in 30 years.

"They not only breach their contracts, but they create problems with the sponsors and they are the ones who are spending big money and sponsors are the biggest assets to promoters. Hate music is unnecessary and it doesn't work well locally or internationally," he said.

According to the promoter, artistes who dedicate their time to tearing down particular groups are only tearing down the development of the music, and may also hinder their own progress in the music industry as it relates to appealing to a broader audience.

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"It doesn't further their career to attack certain groups, the other genres benefit because when you are banned from the shows, they fill that gap, so it's completely stupid. When somebody has a microphone in his or her hand, they must be responsible," he said.

Russell disclosed that Reggae Sumfest's dancehall night has had no incident of artistes using expletives or hate lyrics in the last four years.

However, he also admitted that reaching a general consensus with the artistes, though achievable was an uphill task.

"Some artistes that are habitual offenders, you just don't use them again because they are too much of a risk factor. It took a long time explaining and communicating to get through to the artistes and a lot of them are realising that the artistes who are making big bucks are not the ones who are singing a bunch of expletives. Shaggy, Sean Paul, Bob Marley, Tessanne Chin, Beres Hammond are wanted globally and they do clean music. I hope the young artistes are paying attention and they get the bigger picture from this ban. It's obvious the promoters were hurt, so they made a drastic move," Russell said.

Russell also warned that if local artistes don't clean up their acts, they will make it even more difficult for the younger generation of promoters and artistes to conduct business with corporate entities because all bridges would have already been burnt by their irresponsible predecessors.

Sting is in the process of being remodelled to resemble an internationally exportable product and was aired on pay-per-view for the first time in its 30 years.


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