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Music industry needs better management - PJ Patterson

Published:Tuesday | February 18, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Former prime minister, Percival James, Patterson shares a smile with Sharon Smith, consultant at Jamaica National Building Society with responsibility for the JN Individual Retirement Scheme, during a reggae symposium at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre. - Contributed

Former Prime minister, P.J. Patterson, says the Jamaican music industry needs management that is efficient, entrepreneurial and accountable to mitigate the negative circumstances of destitution, which some musicians fall into at old age.

Patterson, who was speaking at the opening of a reggae symposium, organised by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) and sponsored by the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Foundation at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre in St. Andrew last Thursday, says although musicians contribute immeasurably to the island's cultural heritage, in their old age, many are facing extremely difficult financial circumstances.

"It is troubling to see aging musicians unable to sustain a reasonably good way of life," Patterson said.

"It is disconcerting, as well, that too often ailing musicians are unable to provide for themselves the quality healthcare we would want for ourselves and our loved ones," the former prime minister said, highlighting circumstances in which the survivors of musicians have been forced to seek assistance to cover the expense of their funerals.

not enough care

He faulted those musicians and persons managing them for not taking enough care to ensure that they did not find themselves on hard times in their senior years.

"These severe shortcomings speak ill of how the financial and social well being of musicians have been managed both by themselves, as individuals, and those professionals close to them," he said.

"They and the various organisations with which they are associated have failed to address the eventuality of aging and all the problems and uncertainties that come with it,"

Patterson, who managed the legendary Skatalites, highlighted that several of the "older breed" of musicians now needed assistance to maintain themselves.

He charged JaRIA, and similar organisations, to be more forthright in their leadership and guidance of younger talent, who, he says, must be encouraged to build a sound portfolio for the future when "the going is good".

Supporting Patterson's stance, Sharon Smith, consultant at JNBS with responsibility for the JN Individual Retirement Scheme, said while not all entertainers fail to plan for their senior years and eventual death, many do not prepare because the industry simply does not encourage it.

"There is no retirement age in the entertainment industry ... unlike other professional careers. So many artistes believe that as long as they are healthy, they can continue to make money until they die," Smith said.

plan for old age

Pointing to actual parlous circumstances under which music veterans such as Junior Byles have died, Smith said it was critical for entertainers to plan for their old age and estate as the gleam of their celebrity status and level of income are unlikely to last throughout their entire career.

She said many entertainers tend to first spend on motor vehicles and real estate, but acknowledged that while it was good to invest in property, that asset is non-liquid and needs to be properly managed to generate income.

"The first step is to get into the formal financial system and sit down with someone to discuss your plan. You cannot do it alone," she advised.

It is good for entertainers to invest in a retirement scheme early, while maintaining other investments, which may include savings accounts, stocks and bonds, and a carefully planned business, she pointed out.

"Interest on investment in the Individual Retirement Scheme is not taxed, and, as a result, the investment yields higher interest than ordinary savings and investments in most other instruments. In addition, persons have the option of mixing their funds to edge it against devaluation and inflation," Smith advised JARIA members.

She pointed out that persons needed to contribute only five to 20 per cent of their annual income the scheme once per year.

She also said that it was important for artistes to take care of their health, noting that it was important for them to have critical health insurance to avoid using yields from their investments to take care of health issues in their later years.

"Health is extremely important to the longevity of entertainers and sports personalities and their ability to earn. Therefore, you should always take care of your health," she maintained.