Music of Wednesday, 21 November 2007
The Ghana Association of Phonographic Industries (GAPI), a group of Ghanaian music producers, on Tuesday called on the government to incorporate the economic importance of copyright into the national development agenda, saying it promised to make more earnings for the country than Cocoa.
“Over 12,000 songs have been recorded in the country at a cost of US$600 million, which is what cocoa generates for the country annually, so if priority is given to the sector, funds generated could be used to fund the cocoa industry instead of the usual borrowing,” Mr. Francis Twum Mensah, General Secretary of GAPI, told journalists.
Ghana Cocoa Board borrows money from banks to finance the purchase of cocoa.
He was speaking a press conference organised by GAPI as part of an advocacy initiative sponsored by Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) to enable copyright owners to interact with the media as part of efforts to highlight the need for long-term financing for the music industry.
Mr Mensah noted that research had shown that currently the Ghanaian music had the potential of earning over US$350 million from the world market, adding that if the necessary structures were put in place for effective administration, promotion and distribution, the benefits would be significant.
He said it was in this light that GAPI in collaboration with Bach Technology, Norway, had finally decided to come to the rescue of musicians, producers and distributors by coming up with a proposed Copyright Investment Bank (CIB), which would give long-term financing to producers and musicians.
A report on the economic potential of the music industry to the economies of less developed countries (LDCs) indicated that the industry promises to account for at least 40 per cent of their GDPs if properly organised and managed.
Mr. Mensah said due to the obvious potential of the industry, GAPI and its foreign partners had managed to get the Bank of Ghana (BOG), Ministry of Finance and some banks to buy into the idea of the CIB, adding, that in the next six months the initial moves towards the establishment of the bank would take off.
Mr Dagfin Bach, Chief Executive Officer of Bach Technology, assured Ghanaian musicians that the package his company was bringing the country had a potential to grow the music industry, the individual musician and the economy as a whole.
He said besides providing soft loans and grants to musicians for the production of their music works, Bach would also provide an avenue for online distribution of music works through mobile phone download and internet sales.
“The benefit from the new system would be a change from having a few thriving music labels to loads of labels dominating the industry as a result of the shift from physical sale of CDs and DVDs to the online distribution which is faster and had a wider market reach,” he said.
Mr Bach said the package would include a technology that would monitor the use and sale of music works on mobile phones, the internet, on radio and TV stations, in bars, restaurants, hotels and even in moving vehicles to ensure that musicians were paid appropriately for the use and sale of their works.
Mrs Diana Hoperson, President of the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA), told the GNA that the package from Bach Technology and GAPI signified the break of dawn for musicians in the country and called on all Ghanaian musicians to put their weight behind the initiative to ensure its success.
“I wish to urge my fellow musicians to put all their differences aside and come together to support this initiative which promises a better future for our industry and for us as individuals,” she said.
Mrs Hoperson also announced that MUSIGA was negotiating another deal for musicians to earn money when their songs were used as mobile phone ring tones, adding that such negotiations required proper organisation, commitment and a united front for success.
She said whereas there would not be discrimination in access to support from the CIB, it was instructive for musicians to note that the bank would rather deal with recognised and easily identifiable members of a union like MUSIGA rather than with isolated individual musicians.