The debut album by artiste Protoje is top 10 in three territories representing a rare chart rise by a local act.
The album was two in Canada, three in the US and four in France on the iTunes Reggae Albums chart for the album released Tuesday.
Protoje released the album The Seven Year Itch independently via his producer’s label, Don Corleon Records. It will result in them receiving most of the album sales compared with less than 10 per cent under a major reggae label.
Offers by major reggae labels are increasingly unattractive for artistes during an era of low sales, but the labels themselves are hit by high piracy. Many reggae albums sell under 5,000 copies which means that an independent artiste would only need to sell 500 copies to equal the royalties earned under a major deal.
“There were talks with various distributors and for whatever reason we decided to do it on our own. Because we would have to make compromises and we were not willing to do,” Protoje told Splash last week in a phone interview.
Protoje anticipated greater exposure than sales from his debut album: He now has a bit of both. The album released digitally on iTunes the largest internet music store will be supported with a tour of France, Italy, Norway and Switzerland tour starting February.
“The point of this album is for exposure,” he said an interview last December. “I will be selling this album between now and kingdom come.”
It’s a rare occurrence for local artistes to chart on iTunes amidst the fall in album sales. Contextually, an album released last month of hits by Vybz Kartel, the most popular local deejay according to online searches, did not top 10 chart based on daily searches by the Observer.
“It took a long time to reach this point since in 2003 I decided to do this full time,” he said on Tuesday at his album launch held at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston. “A lot of people who say that there is not any good music made anymore that is not true.”
He wants the album to facilitate his touring into perpetuity.
“Its important how my music is viewed in 20 years from now. I am doing music for a legacy. I am not doing music for the now,” he said then qualified his statement. “I am not worried about my legacy but the music will deal with legacy.”
The 13-track album, produced by Don Corleon begins with the title track that chronicles Protoje’s personal and musical journey, representing an informative reintroduction to his fans. It then proceeds into popular hits like Dread, Arguments, Rasta Love (featuring Ky-Mani Marley) and Roll.