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Published on July 19th, 2017 | by Ron Johnson

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4 Ways Reggae Could Go More Mainstream

A lot of reggae fans may not want the genre to get any bigger than it is today. Among those who enjoy the style of music, it’s more of a passion or a way of life than just a genre, and it’s understandable to want to keep it that way. Like a cult classic film or certain types of modern art, the somewhat limited scope of reggae lends it an authenticity. That is to say, usually if you legitimately like it you know what you’re talking about!

That’s not to suggest that reggae isn’t popular. Millions of people listen to it all over the world, and again, fans tend to be pretty passionate. But compared to most other major genres, it is a little less mainstream. It’s not an exact measure, but one survey of Spotify’s most listened to genres placed reggae seventh, behind metal, pop, folk, country, rock, and hip-hop.

This begs the question of what reggae artists, and the industry as a whole, might be able to do to catch up to some of those other genres’ widespread appeal. Really, there’s no telling what would do it, and reggae is probably never going to be as big a deal as, say, rock ‘n’ roll or metal. But just for fun, here are a few things that might give reggae a boost in pop culture.

A Marley Miniseries

It’s never good to make reggae all about Bob Marley. Then again, he’s undeniably the preeminent figure for the genre, and the more people know about his life and enjoy his music, the better it will probably be for other, more modern reggae artists. As some may recall there was a documentary about the icon released in 2012, and it was widely appreciated by critics. But fans don’t always engage with documentaries, even for very famous figures. The genre might be better served by a Bob Marley miniseries—perhaps on Netflix or Amazon—offering a dramatic portrayal of the singer’s life and musical career. It would need to be done carefully and with a terrific actor in the lead role, but this sort of thing can bring a lot of attention to an artist and a given type of music.

Video Game Outreach

It may come as a surprise to some of you to learn that at least one of the marketing ploys behind the resurgent popularity of metal and classic rock relates to online gaming. Specifically, casino sites are always looking for new ways to entertain players, not only through poker and other card games, but also through slot reels. These are actually the most played offerings available on the web, and have stayed fresh largely through the consistent design of games with new themes. Among these themes there have been several very successful games based on famous bands from rock history. If similar games were designed to revolve around famous reggae artists and songs, we could well see a boost in genre popularity.

More Video Game Outreach

More gaming opportunities exist on mobile channels, and it would be wonderful to see a game developer enthusiastic about reggae take advantage of them. There’s actually a foundation already in place. Bolt Riley: A Reggae Adventure came out last year as a point-and-click adventure game about the rise of an aspiring reggae musician, and it’s just the sort of experience that can gain a little bit of traction. However, it wasn’t geared toward mobile devices, which would probably be where it would find the most success. A spinoff or adaptation of this game for mobile, complete with infectious reggae music and a dynamic, well-designed story mode, could get people interested just as easily as a themed slot arcade could.

The Dog Angle

This one may be a little bit of a reach, but it’s an irresistible story. Earlier this year, studies were unveiled suggesting that dogs love reggae—and everyone loves dogs. These two facts should be used in marketing albums or even just putting reggae on people’s minds more often. We should see commercials where dogs listen to reggae, and adorable pooches with headphones on should adorn the covers of reggae EPs. For that matter, we could even see canine sidekicks in reggae games, combining a few of these ideas for how to bring the genre into the mainstream!


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