Summer is just beginning in So. Cal and reggae festivals are in full effect already. From Hollywood, to Palm Springs to UCLA all the way down to Rosarito, Mexico…LA’s reggae culture is as diverse as the bustling metropolitan population. Just how much money is being funneled into reggae from Southern California and whats up with Cali’s historic affinity for festival full summers.
UCLA JazzReggae May 29. 17
The prestigious private university known for its high ass tuition and bomb ass education has been holding the Jazz Reggae Fest for 31 years.
The late 90’s saw UCLA JazzReggae at the height of dancehall’s crossover success in the US. It was definitely a meet (meat) market but what could you expect for an reggae event on campus and fully coordinated by the students?
Tickets were between 10 and 15 dollars if that. Those patrons that did not want to pay just chilled outside and often parking-lot-pimped the hell out of it. Westwood the small city where UCLA resides has an approximate population of 2,000. Just last year UCLA scaled down this show to a capacity of 2,000. People who didn’t want to pay still got to listen to some free tunes from way beyond the gates alongside a view of the passing LA low riders. It was win win.
Yet as the years passed reggae rose in popularity and so did organizers eyes and bellies. They saw dollar signs and a very real and possible city disturbance issue looming. In order to alleviate some of the mass of activity outside the gates ticket prices had to go up.
As the ticket price rose so did Jazz Reggae Fest budget. As did the artist’s performing rates and the number of performers on the 2 day line up. Money, money, money.
As the outside activity dwindled so did the extra-festival vibe that initially gave UCLA its uniqueness. It became about the bottom line and thus appears to have suffered a steady decline in profits as a result.
This year we were delighted to see Protoje and Jah9 on the line up representing the only Jamaican reggae acts on the bill.
It may be an extraordinary way to re-calibrate the essence of reggae and what it needs to be on a global scale. And it would be one of the most competitive universities on the planet, UCLA in one of the most forward thinking regions in the world, California to do it.
UCLA newspaper The Daily Bruin dedicated an interesting article detailing UCLA’s Jazz Reggae Festival steady attendance and profit decline since the late 90’s. Take a look at details below.
Roy Champawat, director of the student union, said this year’s festival will be held at a smaller venue due to declining crowds, increasing production costs and last year’s venue change….the music industry has changed and there are more music festivals such as Coachella which draw students away from attending JRF…. JRF was $152,000 over its intended budget, said USAC President Heather Rosen at last week’s council meeting. Two years ago, the festival was $113,000 over budget.
2o16 and 17 saw a more thrifty budget of just $85,000 as well as a scaled down one-day event. source: Daily Bruin