Copyright advocate, Carlos Sakyi, estimated that Ghana’s music industry loses over GH¢ 5 million yearly (US $1.5M) through illegally pirated works of Ghanaian musicians. According to him, piracy has killed the creative industry in Ghana, adding that a large number of music icons are now unemployed due to the increasing rate of piracy in the country.
Piracy has been a major concern of the creative arts industry in Ghana. Recently, Beatwaves published a two-year investigation which revealed the difficulties the Copyright Office had been faced with in its attempts to curtail it.?The investigations further revealed that out of a 100 songs played on radio, 80 are pirated without the consent of the artistes who invested (thousands of cedis) in their production. Consequentially, several creative arts players, especially music rights owners, are preparing to petition the President, John Dramani Mahama, to dissolve the Copyright Office for its supposed inability to check piracy.
It was to avert this clash between the artistes and the institutions of the creative arts that led to efforts on the part of the public service to support the cause of the creatives, beginning with musicians. This led to a form of Public Private Partnership arrangement with Yonder Music Inc. The aim of this is to deploy technology to check piracy greatly; and in the process ensure that musicians get paid whenever their music is accessed online.
In an interview, the Minister for Private Sector Development, Hon. Rashid Pelpuo decried the rampant piracy that has led to massive losses for the industry as well as individual artistes. He called on all stakeholders to support in the efforts to help remove this albatross that has hanged around the necks of the music industry for too long.
Hon. Pelpuo stated that the Telecoms companies are key in ensuring the implementation of the music antipiracy systems. He therefore called on the Telcos to see this as a business opportunity, but most importantly as a long overdue corporate social responsibility to musicians; who have been very instrumental in marketing the Telcos all these years.
He therefore asked that the Telcos show their strong presence at the stakeholders meeting and live presentation of the Yonder antipiracy system to be held next week. He indicated that the Ministers of Communication, Creative Arts and Tourism as well as the Attorney General and other officials will be present to help address any concerns and lend their support to the process. ‘This is how seriously government is committed to helping tackle this challenge’, he said.
He also called on musicians to make all efforts to be present at the stakeholder session to make their concerns known; so as to ensure a full proof system that will enhance their cause. ‘I believe this is the time our musicians and their unions must close ranks and collaborate to get something good for their members’, the minister pointed out.
The Yonder system is a new feature rich unlimited music platform that solves the issues of piracy and has the potential to build a Ghanaian Music Business worth more than $60M annually by 2018, to benefit labels, publishers, artists and composers, and others in the music industry.