Concerts of the Route du Rhum in Guadeloupe: an unsuccessful communication

In spite of the thousands of spectators who attended the 25 concerts that took place on the occasion of the 11th edition and 40th anniversary of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, the very attractive cultural part concocted by the organizers was not widely relayed outside our borders because of communication that was not equal to the event.

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The 11th edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, this legendary sailing boat race between the cities of Saint-Malo (France) and Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe), ended three weeks ago. During these last days, we went over with a fine-tooth comb the national and international press to find a series of reports on the 25 concerts which took place every evening and during 18 days (and not 17), if we add the musical tribute paid on December 2 to Guadeloupean skippers and skippers from France but settled and supported by Guadeloupe. It must be noted that our investigations were not very conclusive… but we can be wrong.

The only daily newspaper on the island had written just after the end of the festivities that these 25 concerts had been “a beautiful showcase”. “A beautiful showcase for whom? we could ask it. A showcase is alive, makes sense if there are people who look at it because they are attracted and especially if they come into the shop to buy the products displayed. During these period (from Friday, November 9 to Sunday, November 25), our webmagazine made a real marathon by being every night at the Memorial ACTe to attend the various concerts and sometimes under the deluge. Unfortunately, one thing attracted our attention: we hardly saw any tourists or even French people living in Guadeloupe in these concerts that enhanced our various local music (gwoka, biguine, kadans, zouk), the Caribbean music played by our local and guests artists (kompa, dance hall) and even international music (jazz, RnB, afro-beat).

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Few spectators from elsewhere

We saw groups of tourists in a few concerts. Admiral T, the Guadeloupean artist who sings dance hall even jumped the barriers to dance in front of a group of people from elsewhere, perhaps he wanted to thank them for being there or they were his guests… But it was an exception.

On the other hand, on the occasion of the concerts given by Bernard Lavilliers, thousands of French people from France (residents or tourists) came out of the four corners of the Guadeloupean archipelago to be in front of the stage at the Memorial ACTe. Several times, this French star said that people had told him the Guadeloupean audience was very hard to please but, apparently, this was not the case. In our opinion, Bernard Lavilliers did not see well that the spectators in front of him were in large part his fans coming from France…

So, the main question is : how the organization could fail the communication of the cultural part of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, which was an exceptional opportunity to promote our music? Our magazine never received the programme of concerts despite our requests from a Guadeloupean communication company that worked for the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe and the communication service of the Regional Council of Guadeloupe… The organizers certainly thought that the many journalists of various nationalities would also cover cultural events, in this case the concerts.

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An absence of cultural journalists

It is really ignoring the running of the media and especially the major media where journalists are very often specialists in a specific field in an editorial staff. The journalists who were in Guadeloupe were mainly sports journalists who would never have reported on a concert, a local music or a local artist not because they do not like our culture but because they were not there for that. When the competitors arrived by night in Pointe-à-Pitre, so at a time when the shows were going full swing, the crowd of journalists was there to welcome and interview the participants in the race but the forest of pens, microphones and cameras went as soon as the reception ceremony was over.

The upshot of it all was thousands of Guadeloupeans watched alone their “beautiful musical showcase”. Now in Guadeloupe, we talk a lot about “circular economy” in terms of waste, apparently we are already practicing “circular culture”.

Recently, the Regional Council of Guadeloupe and the Tourism Committee of the Islands of Guadeloupe (CTIG) invited in New York journalists and “influencers” (activity in fashion since the advent of social networks on the internet) to promote our archipelago. Why these people were not in Guadeloupe to see this “beautiful showcase” and relay it, promote it in the media in the United States and elsewhere in the world?

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An indisputable musical wealth

But, let’s be reassured: we have an inestimable musical wealth, it is also the case for most Caribbean islands. Biguine with its first stars (Moune de Rivel, Albert “Al” Lirvat, Fructueux Alexandre “Stellio”, Léona Gabriel-Soïme, etc.) made the golden age of Paris in the first half of the 20th century and celebrities like Jean-Paul Sartre, Mistinguett, Joséphine Baker frequented places where this music was played like the former “Bal Nègre”. Our drums also attract a large audience when they resonate on other lands, the group Akiyo also said that, recently, it had a great success in France and Benin. The Kassav’ band which invented zouk music has been touring the world for almost 40 years, attracting millions of spectators during its concerts abroad, it is even the first French group with regard to tours… Why do tourists on the island were not at these various zouk concerts if when they are in their country they attend concerts given by Kassav’ ? Of course, Kassav’ is not just any zouk band, but a legend… Do our visitors know at least that zouk was created here? We already met people that thought zouk was a musical rhythm from Haiti…

In addition, during these 25 concerts, we saw very competent technicians, stages always ready to welcome the artists on time, there was no technical problem despite the very rainy weather, for several days. All the artists (vocalists and musicians) lived up to the event and shared their art with the audience, even when it was the first time that some of them were in front of a large crowd. So, we know how to make great shows in Guadeloupe and for several consecutive days.

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Several festivals in 17 days

In fact, during this 11th edition of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe, several music festivals were organized in 17 days. Concretely and without any exaggeration, it is as if, for example, three editions of the “World Creole Music Festival” – which is the major festival on the island of Dominica in which the Guadeloupean artists and audience participate every year – had taken place during these two weeks. Guadeloupe deserves more than ever its nickname “Land of Champions”. However, if our Dominican neighbors fill their coffers with money at the period of the WCMF, here everything was free for spectators because it was supported by the Région Guadeloupe

This observation is quite paradoxical when we know that all the major festivals (plastic arts, music…) in Guadeloupe had a first class burial. There is the “Festival Terre de Blues” in Marie-Galante which is under perfusion but we can wonder about its future when we hear some people say that if reggae or dance hall artists from Jamaica are not scheduled, they will not go to this festival… Is our “beautiful showcase” in jeopardy ?

However, it must be said that these various concerts of the 11th edition of the Route du Rhum Destination Guadeloupe, nevertheless, allowed our artists – most of them went to France – to express themselves and earn money in their country which is good. offers 25 reports on the 25 concerts illustrated by nearly 1,600 photos in its “music” column.

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Inadequate communication

To conclude, the chosen communication to promote the cultural part and particularly the 25 concerts of the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe was not up to par. They only used a few well-established local media for live broadcasts on radio or television for example, perhaps they thought it was just a parish fête and they had to offer good music to the inhabitants so that they would be happy… However, when the local authority want to attract millions of tourists to Guadeloupe over the next few years, can they just be content with local media relays? This communication was intended only for Guadeloupeans… maybe because this electorate will go to the polls in a few months…

Unfortunately, these magnificent concerts whose organization was very expensive did not allow our artists to be well-known outside our borders, during this international event that is the Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe which also celebrated, in 2018, its 40th year of existence.

Communication which is a professional field distinct from journalism, is today essential in the running of a local authority so, it must not be suitable for sorcerer’s apprentice, in other words for people who think that communication is only to print a leaflet in a printing house and a logo in a satchel or a tee-shirt but, in reality, do not know anything about communications strategy.