After all this hullabaloo Vybz Kartel must be thanking his lucky stars that someone invented the Internet, since it is turning out to be such a great agent of promotion for him. Various blogs, Facebook and twitter are perpetually aflutter with people opining about his activities, the latest being his UWI appearance, video of which has been shared 1240 times on Facebook.
Kartel is well aware that the people are talking and is proud to say “let them talk, the more they talk more popular Kartel becomes.” And he is right, both his fans and detractors are doing the work for him online, and he’s certainly reaping the benefits in terms of the kind of visibility and popularity that other artists pimp themselves out online for, but what exactly is he doing with this popularity online? He could be promoting the hell out of everything he has to sell, including his music, but in 2010 he failed to chart on billboard or in iTunes – his “Pon Di Gaza” notoriously sold only 8 copies in its first week, and 519 downloads of singles off the album. This failure was commonly attributed to the fact that there was no apparent effort made to promote the album to the US market, something which he could have done online.
He’s had success in merchandising with Vybz Rum, his Clarke’s endorsement and condom line, and has plans to launch Vybz Cake Soap in April, followed by t-shirts, belt buckles and Addi’s sneakers. While the internet is abuzz with his name, why is Kartel himself is not grabbing his own Internet reigns and maximizing the Internet as a tool for promotion of his merchandising endeavours? When I searched for him online I found various profiles but had a hard time distinguishing which were official, and when I found what seemed to be his official profiles, I should have found everything he had to offer listed – that would be the smart move. But on the four twitter profiles , two YouTube and two Facebook I found bearing his name he is markedly silent about his endeavours.
Who owns Vybz Kartel’s brand online?
With the exception of YouTube where he regularly uploads videos it seems the extent of any online marketing for any of his endorsements is Vybz Rum photos on one of his Facebook profiles. He should have a website or at the very least an online store, but the most I saw for his online offerings are singles and albums listed on various sites as well as on his fan website. Does he have some master plan?
I searched for him on twitter and in the one minute it took me to browse the results, 43 new tweets were posted with his name, and a Google search of his name yielded 4,640,000 results. With this kind of visibility and with 17,832 followers on twitter, 646,872 upload views on YouTube and two Facebook fan pages one with 607,586 fans and the other with 118,634 Kartel has an audience online that is willing to buy whatever he’s selling, but he doesn’t seem to be selling. I hear very often that “Vybz is actually really intelligent” so if he’s not making the smartest move and capitalizing on the Internet it must be a part of some master plan, and I’m waiting to see the unfolding of that.