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What can we do to bring more people out to band launchings? (in NEW YORK)

A prominent New York pan player asked:

What can we do to bring more people out to band launchings [in New York]?

Here are a few thoughts from When Steel Talks (WST) on the issue:


  • ONE - Sell pre-season tickets to attend the launches​. For example, a $50 dollar season ticket will get you into any 10 NY launches/yard openings. This would allow the bands to enjoy the financial benefits of the season tickets without the concerns and pressure about the attendance woes. It would also allow the community to contribute to their favorite band and others, and the art form overall, without having to show up.  They - the fan - can also now give their tickets to friends when they are not planning to attend. After all they’ve already paid for it.

    So if you were to sell 1,000 season tickets before the start of the launch season that would be $50,000 dollars of guaranteed money to be dispersed among the bands before a note is even struck.  There are millions of people in New York.  Getting 1,000 people to buy $50 dollar season tickets to 10 concerts should not be an issue. We won’t even bring up the business community and the global community who would be interested in buying tickets and giving them away as a promo opts.

  • TWO - Bands are always asking people at launches to support them by purchasing food, and drink, yet they make absolutely no arrangements for people to consume their food.  People are always seen trying to balance their food and drink in their hands, while trying to  eat – and standing.


  • THREE - Rent a small set of ‘bleachers’ for the summer for older folks to sit, and see and listen to the bands in relative comfort. The bleachers can be moved from launch to launch.  Or, as pan people are so “handy” – construct a set of sturdy, wooden bleachers in the yard (like Marsicans did a few years back, and CASYM, when they were on Church Avenue).

    Think of how welcoming Marsicans used to be – it was PACKED nightly, because they also had chairs and tables, appreciated and utilized the older folks as they ‘limed’ with food and drink.

  • FOUR - Start on time. Start on time. Start on time.  Actually you need to start 5 minutes before the printed time on the flyer.  Once folks understand launches will start on time - people will come out. Any-time is not anytime. Bands need to develop trust with perspective audiences.  Start on time means – the first STEEL ORCHESTRA plays, not the DJ.  Bands to be followed by each other, not prolonged DJ interludes.


  • FIVE - Use texting and facebook. Send out the word “the band playing now” - that causes a  pyramid effect.  Right now, people are getting – ‘dey ent start yet’ and ‘nuttin’ happening’.


There is so much that could be done - but these are a quick few.


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Everything everyone has stating is so true and we have know this for so many years, but yet we have not been able to solve our problems. I can't say when we will but I am still committed to trying. I beg of you all let us truly come together with no hidden agendas but that of resolving the issue at hand " How do we save pan" I say that with all seriousness as possible. Please look at what it came from, where it is and where it is heading, and I mean truly look, be honest with yourself and know it is headed down and could be out. So many times good people have come together to make a change and they have either been discouraged or driven away. We must at some point admit that enough is enough. It is within our power to save pan and I mean all aspect of pan,( the instrument, players, bands, shows, panorama, concerts. As I stated USSA will hold an open forum to discuss this and we hope everyone will attend and participate. It is not only about talking but doing. This is not something that one individual can accomplish but we all together can, PLEASE, PLEASE,PLEASE, let us do it.



I fully endorse the opening comments which suggest that we sell tickets seasonal tickets in advance, whereby, all bands could assist in sales.  So the emphasis would now be placed on marketing.  Strategic marketing and promotion at the various media to attract a wide cross section, especially the youths.

The various administrations and musical arrangers must be strong on their musical repertoires.  They must serve a diet of entertaining and sumptuous  music that is accepted by the youth, and by extension the senior people like me, who would always attend a steelband concert.

We must endeavor to attract younger people to these concerts.  Are they not the musicians?  Where are their friends and relatives?

To all,

I am sorry for sounding so negative, but you all sound like a broken record and this situation is recursive....like a cat chasing it's tail, and never being able to catch it. 

Year after year, I hear the same thing...let's have a meeting to discuss ideas and then nothing gets done and good ideas are discarded...I love Pan as much as you do, but let's be honest...unless the young people take other this thing...Pan will continue to go downhill in NY.  Ian has exposed some important truths....after all the Panorama's...after all the meetings and ideas, what has any steelband association got to show for it? Has any steelband association in NY purchased property over the years, for itself or any steelband? Does the current association plan to buy property? What monies does it have set aside, in an account towards the purchase of property?

You see, it's time for change, it's time to think in terms of business and act on it. I for one, prefer to spend 50 bucks to go to Madison Square garden, etc. where I won't get dust in my shoes in some rat hole of a place...folks, it's time to take Pan to another level and stop exploiting the young people. I am not ascribing blame to any steelband association, I'm just saying, it's been like this from the very beginning, with no change. As for me, I did my part to help and I am disgusted with the whole thing...I didn't even want to make this post to be honest because there will most likely be a backlash and bachannal to follow, but I love the instrument too much to say nothing.

It's time to turn the future of Pan over to the young people, the older folks have had their time and did their thing. It's very hard to give up the thing you love to someone else, but it's a sacrifice that's necessary to grow the art-form. Otherwise, you will see what is happening now with Pan in NY, unfortunately....

blessings to all,


All The Band Launching Usually Have The Same Bands Playing The Same Music, If There Is A DJ He Needs To Pack, Is Either He's Playing Old Soca Or Reggae,it's Time For A Change Bring Something Different Please.

The idea of selling group tickets or seasonal sound very well on paper, but we all know that pan people don't seem to trust each other when it come to money and most of the time its over some nonsense that happened when they was growing up in the village back home in the 50's, 60's and 70's, so who going to monitor the sales of such to ensure that participating bands get their fair share of revenue.

To Wayne, that is true because most bands made up of young players and it's seem that all those players are interesting in playing is the jump up and whine your waist soca. Few bands cater to the grown and elder who want to out and listen to sweet pan music they can understand and related to. Those are the people that will pay the $5 or $10 to a band launching and don't complaint at the gate or try to come in for free. Those are the same ones that will support your bar.

THANK YOU for saying exactly what I was thinking: too much bickering and petty feuding to even consider a venture that involves shared revenue. Could you imagine the chaos that would ensue?

As for repertoire... with all due respect anybody who claims that the bands only care about new "jump up and whine your waist soca" obviously does not attend band launches in New York. Yes as a matter of necessity the bands play newer songs but they ALL mix it up with classics such as Baron's Somebody, Maestro's Fiery, Kitch's Pan In Harmony, David Rudder's Bahia Girl, to name a few. But it can't all be golden oldies; imagine if steelbands in the 1970s were told they should only play Lord Melody and Roaring Lion's music. As Maestro sang in those days, "We can't play/for the old folks all the time/in this day/keep the young people in mind". You gotta mix it up, and the regular players at these launches definitely do. 

I think what Wayne Borde is saying is that because most of the bands play at several launches throughout the season you're basically going to hear the same stuff with a few exceptions here and there; so, as an example if you as a spectator attended Casym's launching last week and heard the bands that played there and then go to another band's launching the following week or so and see and hear those same bands that played at Casym's launching, you'll more than likely going to hear the same tunes you heard played at Casym's launching. Your point is well taken that bands do mix up their repertoires but I don't that's done in a radical way that's refreshing to the audience. I think bands should devise a strategy of avoiding playing the same tunes they played at a previous launching. Despers USA's concept of r&b and reggae night is a great one.  Maybe another band could offer a latin night, another band a jazz night, a disco night, classical night bomb tune style, or say it's a night to play the works of Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, or some other renown artiste/musician, etc.  There are other genres besides the usual ones and other possible musical concepts that the bands can explore to devise different themes for staging band launchings.  The bands can use this idea as an opportunity to expose the audience to different kinds of musical styles and the arrangers would have an opportunity to step outside their comfort zones and push the envelope musically in terms of what can be done with the pan instruments. That might help to increase and broaden the audience base because the bands are offering something different.


Collins Jackman


You are on the money. I hope you will be present at our forum the weekend after Labor Day. That idea and others like that are what's needed. We also want more ideas of fund raising besides the usual ones.

The thing is we have to think outside the box. Think fund raisers not just pan fundraisers.

Mr Marcelle.

Maybe next year you should think about having your forum the same weekend with Labor Day so that people from out of town could attend.

Matthew why should they trust each other? Let a third party handle the money. The Knicks don't trust the Heat. Do you think the Red Sox or Mets trust the Yankees? There is a proper business way to handle the situation.


Again I have to say that a lot of the responses are on the money, however we cannot do anything until we come to some sort of consensus about which direction to pursue.

Any government or business does not function with any measure of success unless there is a meeting of the minds to formulate plans for progress. The same here, I understand that there have been calls for meetings in the past with little or no forward progress, but that is because it was never given a fair chance to be establish, they were poorly attended, people had their own agenda, or they simply did not like who called the meeting or any ridicules reason to stay away. USSA in the past four years have attempted at least three of such meeting , as recently as this past March. Now I don't care you likes me or dislikes me if that person persons want to work for the betterment of pan I will work with them. It is not about me. I will invoke Starlift's slogan, (WE NOT I)  Before any of the good ideas outlined in the original post are implemented we must come together or  we will just be spinning top in mud.

The Youth must be part of this, I totally agree with the passing of the torch, however the elders are needed for to work along with them so there can be a greater degree of success.(REMEMBER WE NOT I) I myself have turned over the rains of our band to my son, but I am here for guidance, advise and support.

USSA have tried to implement some changes to enhance the productivity and attendance of pan event, but we have failed, that's why I know this project needs a village for successful results.

I hope what I am stating comes across with great understanding and is accepted with open minds, with that we can achieve great results.

So again I say there will be a forum after the Labor Day Carnival for this purpose. Please look out for the day and time and please attend.


Keith I will be there to listen with an open mind, hoping to hear fresh new ideas. People with proven marketing, and  business skills, who love the culture, please lets try once again to move this thing forward. Ian some your insight is needed.


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