How to earn more money from songwriting
Artistes and musicians have much to gain by being more businesslike about their work in the music industry, said Lydia Rose, general manager of the Jamaica Association of Composers Authors and Publishers (JACAP).
Annual music industry revenues are estimated at approximately US$130 million, or about J$16 billion, by the Jamaica Promotions Agency (JAMPRO). And Rose bemoaned the fact that despite improvements to the protection offered to the music industry's content creators, they are not protecting themselves to receive their fair share of earnings from this income stream.
"The copyright law states that producers and selected entities are supposed to pay a fee, each time they use someone's music," the general manager stated. The challenge is that, "Music is not free; however, we were raised under that concept that it was."
Rose was addressing the recent 'Community Business Shub Out Entrepreneurial Seminar 2017', at the New Covenant Outreach Ministries, in Cockburn Gardens, St Andrew. The seminar was hosted by We Speak Life Global, Katalys Crew Productions and Mighty One Sound.
The seminar aimed at providing information on business opportunities to artistes, musicians and sports practitioners, residing in Cockburn Gardens.
Jamaica had a copyright act to protect the creators of original content from 1911, she advised the audience. "However, we don't see songs as property and they are. Therefore, they should be included in your will because they are your creative property."
The difference between the application of the law and common practice is that the country's modern music industry emerged in the informal economy, where the originators of the content and its consumers, paid scant regard to the legal niceties.
The industry grew from the recordings by the country's promoters of sound systems, which was popular in the rapidly growing Kingston of the 1950s. At that time, it was common for songwriters to be paid a fixed sum and not be granted rights to their compositions.
"Songwriting is a big business internationally," Rose explained. "Therefore, for Jamaican songwriters to get what they deserve, international norms must be adopted, so that JACAP can collect the appropriate copyright fees to pay you for the use of your creations.
"If you book an artiste, you are paying the performer," the JACAP general manager said, "but, when a fee is paid to us, it goes toward paying the writers."
... Artistes, musicians, sportspersons, you are a brand
One significant boost for the sector is the system introduced last year by the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office for the registration of songs, Rose said. The National Library of Jamaica also has facilities to register songs under the Deposit Act of Jamaica.
She advised that, "The best way to earn from your song writing is to ensure that your song is registered."
Paul Barclay, chairman of JACAP, producer, songwriter, and managing director of Katalys Crew Production told the audience that, "Every artiste or musician is a business, so ensure you register with the Companies Office because as an artiste, musician or sports person, you are a brand. Also, ensure that in your corner, you have a lawyer, publicist, manager, as well as a publisher and never be afraid to seek their advice."
Barclay cited personal examples of being able to collect royalties and also resolve copyright issues as he was able to call on his professional support group.
"Put something on paper at all times, even if it's a scribbling, and despite the challenges you may face, do not sell your work. You may sell it and two weeks later the song becomes a hit," he explained. "I know a young singer, who sold a song for $40,000, and the first royalty payment was three times what he sold the song for, but he has nothing to gain."
Jacqueline Shaw-Nicholson, communications and client services manager at JN Small Business Loans, told the prospective artistes and musicians that, "Organising your activities as a business is very valuable for musicians and artistes. Managing any business is hard work, but it can be financially rewarding, especially when you become successful."
"The creative industries represent one of the areas where there is enormous scope for income creation," Shaw-Nicholson told the group. "Investing the time and resources to plan, establish a strong marketing campaign, recording your income and expenditure and investing in your own development will be well worth it." She further encouraged the group to "seek guidance and support when needed."