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Musicians Bemoan Fall of Industry 2/9/2007
MUSICIANS IN Ghana have expressed regret about the drastic fall of the music industry in the country.

The Musicians were of the view that due to the closure of factories and production houses in the late 1980s and the inability of most music businesses to sustain their operations, Ghanaian musicians fled to other countries thereby creating a vacuum in the industry.

The Musicians contended that the use of music by corporate organisations, companies and individuals without paying mechanical royalties to the composers is a great source of worry to the industry.

They said the prepaid tax on tickets for live band performances, which was pegged at 25% for years and has currently been replaced by the Value Added Tax (VAT), makes stage performances very costly.

The Musicians lamented the removal of music as a core subject from the school curriculum and called on Government, especially the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, and Ghana Education Service to help rejuvenate the study of music in Ghanaian schools at all levels of education.

The Musicians made these known during a forum organised by Metro TV in collaboration with BUSAC, a DANIDA sponsored programme on the theme, "Comparative Study on Music Industries of Ghana and South Africa".

Mr. Carlos Sakyi, a Musician and a Researcher delivering a paper on the findings of the study, noted that the mid 80s brought some positive developments, one of them being the promulgation of the repealed Copyright Law PNDC L 110 which was primarily, to protect the creative community and ensure Musicians and Composers received equitable remuneration for the use of their copyrighted works.

He said the Copyright Law established the Copyright Society of Ghana (COSGA), a statutory quasi-governmental body for all copyright owners and the office, a purely governmental agency headed by a Copyright Administrator.

He said within a matter of years several Musicians who were dissatisfied with the Society''s operations, levelled allegations of corruption against Officials of COSGA and the Copyright office, accusing them of flouting with impunity, provisions in the LI governing the Society requiring accountability and transparency particularly in the distribution of royalties.

He said the research exposed a number of factors affecting the industry as unwarranted interference in the operations of the music industry (Private Sector) by the Copyright office (Government Agency) and its Administrator and the ineffective supervision of the copyright sector by the National Commission on Culture resulting in a huge financial loss to the creative community.

Mr. Sakyi said the lack of accountability and transparency in the operations of the Copyright Society of Ghana especially its flawed royalty distribution system, deprived Copyright Owners of musical works worth billions of cedis.

He noted that piracy was killing the industry with unauthorised reproduction of copyrighted works like CDs, cassettes, DVDs and failure by authorities to deal decisively with the anomaly.

He emphasised that the payment of payola, being bribes collected by radio / TV presenters from Musicians and record companies for airing of songs and videos, was gradually gaining roots in the country and "COSGA is just looking on".

He said the high level of ignorance about the operations of the music business among Ghanaian Musicians, Producers, Executive Producers / Record labels and other industry stakeholders, has led to a violation of contractual obligations particularly by Musicians /artistes and failure to demand accountability from the industry leaders.

Mr. Sakyi was of the view that there was lack of knowledge and apathy among policy makers about the music industry and this has led to the inability of government to appreciate the value of music to the economy despite evidence of the music industry and other creative sectors contributing an average of 4-5% of GDP of other countries.

He said the imposition of a security device (stickers which can easily be counterfeited) on musical and audio visual works ostensibly to protect them from piracy, has resulted in the legitimisation, proliferation and endorsement of piracy and has also constituted a strong deterrent to creativity and investment, apart from its discriminatory and unconstitutional nature.

He said the leadership crisis in the music industry is giving room for incompetence, incorrigibility, intransigence, refusal of leaders to account for their actions and inactions, and has resulted in the lack of proper systems and structures, the absence of good governance, accountability, transparency, responsibility and trust in the music associations and copyright bodies.

He noted that the absence of a database on the music industry and lack of a coherent and professionally organised distribution and marketing system was crippling the music industry.

He said the lack of enforcement of existing good laws encourages copyright infringement, thereby depriving Composers of critical income and impoverishing them.


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