Spotlight on copyright at JAMMS music seminar
Members of the Jamaica Music Society’s (JAMMS) who attended the recent seminar at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston left with more than enough knowledge to empower them about the business of music.
“If you don’t have the knowledge then you are not empowered,” presenter Kendall Minter, entertainment and intellectual property rights attorney, emphasised.
Minter, who called Entertainment Minister Olivia Grange his friend, benefactor, and collaborator, is a walking encyclopadia on copyright and publishing, and he was eager to share with the full house.
“Protection of intellectual property is at the core of protecting your assets. It’s easy to go in the studio, and it’s easy to have beats in your mind and lyrics and verses and hooks in your mind, but what do you do with those after you have the synergy of producer and artistes? First thing you want to do is copyright them,” Minter stressed.
He added, “You’ve got to understand the basics if you are really in this business for the purpose of it being a business. You’ve got to protect and monetise your assets so you don’t come down a bit later or a year or two or three later and seh ‘Di man dem a tief mi.’ Did you take care of your homework?”
Minter spoke for more than 20 minutes on the topic Master Rights Ownership – Setting the Record, giving quite a bit of history of the workings of the Jamaican music industry and the global realities. He touched on topics such as credit and work-for hire, which has caused much distress.
“In most well-drafted contracts it could be in the fine print ... but you’ve got to look to see if it says work-for-hire. You have to ask what it means. You need to know what work-for-hire language means,” Minter said.
He also gave a short discourse on the importance of split sheets.
“Split sheets should be on your laptop, on your tablet. Bring them into the studio and stick them on the console - ‘We created this song, we will divide up the publishing of this song in the following percentage ... .’ The split sheets are used as a reference point when you are making registrations with your performing rights organisation and you should be a member of a performing rights society to be able to collect your publishing. A split sheet is a basic tool. If you go buy your house, are you going to walk away from your closing without a deed and title? Hell no! Copyright split sheets are your deeds and titles to your intellectual property and publishing,” Minter said in a no-nonsense voice.
He also gave a warning:”The only time you will pull it out after that is if there is a dispute, and they happen on a regular basis. After the song becomes a hit, somebody might say, ‘I’m really not supposed to get a third of that. I am supposed to get 40 or 45 per cent. Then you pull out the split sheet that they signed. Money can be frozen by years until the split is resolved.”
Among the topics that were explored last week Tuesday were Popular Music Culture and Broadcast Standards in Jamaica: Artiste and Repertoire Discovery and Development; The Role, Impact, and Duty of Record Producers in Shaping the Direction and Sound of Music Genres; Beatmakers and Record Producers: The Jamaican Dynamics Regarding Ownership, Control, and Transfer of Rights; Jamaican Music – Its Relevance, Resilience and Commercial Viability: Is our Music Still Finding a Global Audience?
JAMMS’s music seminar was presented under the theme ‘Understanding Rights, Royalties and the Changing Architecture of the Music Industry’. Numbered among the panellists, presenters, and moderators were Kendall Minter; Haldane ‘Danny’ Browne, producer, musician, and JAMMS chairman; Cleveland ‘Clevie’ Browne, producer, audio engineer, and musician; Mikie Bennett, record producer and songwriter; Sara Hsia, entertainment and intellectual property rights lawyer, who was represented by an AI bot; Rohan ‘Snow Cone’ Fuller, record producer; Wayne Chen, music commentator, author, and attorney-at-law; Dennis Howard, musicologist, producer, and author; Sean ‘Seanizzle’ Reid, record producer; Clyde McKenzie, entertainment practitioner; Dianne Daley McLure, IP attorney; and JAMMS General Manager Evon Mullings.