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CDB study to explore online platform for music sales

Published:Friday | August 5, 2016 | 12:00 AMSteven Jackson

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) wants to know the feasibility of the private sector setting up a Caribbean music platform to sell online music in a bid to increase earnings to the sector.

Consequently, it will fund the bulk of the project to find the value of regional music and the efficacy of setting up a platform.

Currently, most popular music-streaming sites - led by Spotify and online pay sites, including Amazon - are not legally available to most nationals in the Caribbean. This, therefore, removes the region from the largest formal online music stores.

On Thursday, the board of the CDB approved a grant to support the digitalisation of Caribbean music.

"With the shift towards digital music distribution, many who work in the Caribbean music industry have been unable to achieve meaningful levels of success. We know that this investment has the potential to transform the regional music industry a transformation that could set many Caribbean nations on a path to sustainable economic growth and competitiveness," said Daniel Best, director of projects at the CDB.

The introduction of digital music platforms and products has made it difficult for Caribbean music stakeholders to recover royalties from music sales, said the CDB. Many remain constrained by high levels of piracy that have come with the digital age. In addition, infrastructure essential for success in digital music distribution including major regional record labels, music publishers, and distributors has been weak in the Caribbean, according to the release.

The grant will fund a feasibility study to determine the viability of establishing a regional distribution platform for the Caribbean music sector. The study will determine the actual and potential size of the regional music and digital music markets, and the position of the Caribbean, compared to global content providers. The study will also consider the legislative, infrastructural, and regulatory requirements for creating a digital music distribution platform.

Once the research has determined the commercial viability of creating such a platform, the grant will be used to host three subregional workshops for music industry stakeholders.

"These events will help participants understand the impact of digitalisation on the music industry. Such impacts include legal and regulatory issues, licensing and collection practices, business models, and the work of the collective management organisations," stated the release.

The CDB's funding for this project totals US$150,000; while the Association of Caribbean Copyright Societies (ACCS)

will contribute US$20,000; and the Barbados Investment Development Corporation, US$16,400.

These large music-streaming and pay sites avoid Jamaica due to the lack of trade agreements, according to journalist and lecturer Dr Dennis Howard in a Gleaner interview published in June.

His statement comes within the context of a continued slump in sales for reggae and dancehall music.

Queries regarding the CDB study to Evon Mullings, general manager at Jamaica Music Society, a collecting-rights society, were unanswered up to press time.