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Music of Thursday, 5 June 2008

Source: ghanamusic.com

No pay, no gig…musicians take a stand on rates

The days when people engaged the services of musicians and paid them according to their own consideration are drawing to a close because the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) has come up with a minimum wage package for its members which it intends to see enforced throughout the country.

Though seen by music industry watchers as a long overdue move, the MUSIGA 2nd Vice President, Amandzeba told Showbiz that whether it had taken the union too long to work out a minimum wage structure for its members or not, it is still necessary for it to officially state its position on fees for musicians.

“The MUSIGA Constitution enjoins us to bargain for and seek the welfare of members. We no longer want people going as individuals and making lots of compromises which hurt us all in the end. Everybody is talking about poverty alleviation but we prefer to term our stance as an endeavour towards wealth creation.”

In MUSIGA’s new minimum wage structure, an artiste performing in a one-star hotel, at a club, funeral or party has to get a minimum of GHC500.00. Backing singers and instrumentalists performing in the same venues are to receive not less than GHC20.00 and GHC25.00 each respectively.

A star who performs at a five-star hotel, the National Theatre, International Conference Centre, Banquet Hall of the State House or at a venue that holds more than 1,000 persons is to be paid at least GHC800.00 Backing singers are entitled to at least GHC40.00 each whilst instrumentalists should look forward to a minimum of GHC45.00 each.

A score for a film attracts between GHC5,000.00 and GHC100,000.00. The MUSIGA document also stipulates fees for various categories of performers in other situations such as studio recording sessions, live church services and choral concerts.

Amandzeba said the MUSIGA national executive and some individuals with deep insight into music industry affairs drew up the document and he thinks the rates are fairly realistic.

“We have officially communicated the figures to relevant people in the industry but we are going to meet with event organisers and managers of hotels soon on the issue,” Amandzeba stated.

“We have comprehensive standard contracts drawn up with help from the International Federation of Musicians (FIM) and we believe musicians are being ushered into a new era where their services would be adequately rewarded.”

Isaac K. Yanney, Deputy Head at the Education and Training Department of the Trades Union Congress, in a comment about the MUSIGA move, said it is more appropriate for MUSIGA to talk of a minimum charge instead of a minimum wage.

“A wage denotes a fixed regular payment to an employee but I don’t think that’s what MUSIGA is talking about.”

Yanney also said he believes MUSIGA has had time to consult with the main stakeholders about the prescribed charges because ability to pay is an important factor in negotiations.

“A one-sided decision could not be helpful to a certain category of musicians because clients may not be able to afford their services. I understand that the circumstances within which musicians work may be different from the regular environment we deal with when negotiating workers’ wages but the bottom line is that if the charges are huge and the clients cannot pay, then getting jobs would be hard for some musicians.”

The issue of musicians ‘hustling’ for survival in their inactive years has been talked about frequently. Amandzeba said the MUSIGA national executive has been in touch with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to orgainse an open forum for musicians to appreciate the essence of putting some of their earnings away in a scheme to benefit them in their retirement years.

“We are private people and if you retire or are less active, there’s nothing to consider as benefits to sustain you. That is why many musicians rely heavily on the welfare arm of MUSIGA. Our view is that musicians should start contributing to SSNIT so they can have something to fall on later.

“We are also concerned about personal insurance for our members and some insurance companies we have talked to will come and show us their various products.”

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No pay, no gig…musicians take a stand on rates

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