INCYMI: Day 1 of Our How to Make a Living from Music Workshop

From left: Mr. Regan Asgarali, Controller (Ag.), Intellectual Property Office (IPO), Mr. Dimiter Gantchev, Deputy Director, Copyright Infrastructure Division, Copyright and Creative Industries Sector, World Intellectual Property, Ms. Cherine Anderson, Performer and Producer and Mr. David Stopps, Managing Director, Friars Management Limited (FML)

How do I make money from music? This question has been on many artists’ minds and to help point them in the right direction, MusicTT recently held a two-day How to Make a Living From Music workshop which was attended by 250 local music practitioners all wanting to know how to turn their passion into a fruitful business.

The workshop, which was organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization in collaboration with the Intellectual Property Office of Trinidad and Tobago, brought together numerous highly renowned speakers and educators, all of whom shared their knowledge and gave expert advice on eleven major income-generating topics.

Here’s what you missed from Day 1:

Topic 1:  Creative Industries as a Factor of Economic Development

Mr. Dimiter Gantchev, Deputy Director, Copyright Infrastructure Division, Copyright and Creative Industries Sector, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Geneva, Switzerland and Dr. Vanus James, Professor at the University of Technology in Kingston, Jamaica opened the workshop, presenting on the topic of Creative Industries as a Factor of Economic Development.

This topic set the tone for the workshop highlighting the value and extent of revenue that can be earned from the creative industries on a national level. While Mr. Gantchev discussed the broader side of economic development through the creative industries, Dr. James delved deeper into the need for Trinidad and Tobago to focus on diversification through the creative industries since this sector has the potential to contribute significantly to the country’s GDP.


Topic 2:  Copyright and the Music Industry

As a writer, producer, artist or any other profession in the music industry, knowing your rights is important. These rights include:

  • The right to reproduction
  • The right to distribution
  • The right to rental

Copyright owners, according to speaker Shiveta Sooknanan, Legal Officer 11 at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) of Trinidad and Tobago, can obtain royalties that are generated by the licensing/assigning of their exclusive rights in their work. However, as we all know, one of the major problems affecting the amount of money one can make through royalties is piracy.


Topic 3: Income Streams from Copyright and Related Rights

Feature speaker, David Stopps, Managing Director at Friars Management Limited, spoke to making money from copyright and related rights. He explained that there are two rights to consider when making commercial music:

  1. The copyright in the work (songwriting, composition, musical arrangement and/or lyrics).          
  2. The related rights in performances and recordings

If copyright laws are enforced, an artist can move up the income ladder in a viable market.


Topic 4: Importance of Artist Management

David Stopps giving his presentation on Artist Management.

David Stopps emphasised on the importance of artist management. “[Managers] are the ones who have to make the rules of copyright work on a daily basis and it is they who have to grapple with the rapid developments in technology and make sure, as far as possible, that the artist is paid correctly,” he emphasized.

A great manager should:

  1. Be honest.
  2. Be an enabler (he or she should be able to create opportunities that the artist would not otherwise have achieved alone).
  3. Be a good administrator (he or she should be good at keeping accurate and up-to-date financial records and be effective in ensuring that income streams are maximized and that the artist is paid correctly).
  4. Be a good communicator (relate well to other people and be good at networking).
  5. Be a good negotiator.
  6. Be a problem-solver.
  7. Love the artist’s music

A manager that has his artist’s best interest at heart would make sure that jobs are available and money can be made from his client’s music.


Topic 5: Music Publishing and Contract Negotiations

Local manager and performer, Simon Baptiste, discussed some of the issues facing the local music industry when it comes to publishing and contract negotiations. He spoke about personal egos being a detractor and the need for artists to gain the most out of their contract negotiations by leaving egos at the door. 

Simon also spoke to the worth of publishing. Publishing income is very important for an all-round artist who writes and performs his/her own material. It is generally easier to recoup publishing advances than it is to recoup recording advances, as there are normally no deductions other than advances and the publisher’s share of the income, whereas in recording agreements there are many deductions such as video costs, recording costs and tour support in addition to advances.


Topic 6: Branding a Music City

David Stopps shared the golden rules for artists who are prepared to have themselves associated with brands. They are:

  1. Make sure the product in question is compatible with the band’s image and beliefs. Don’t just go with the brand that is offering the most money.
  2. Fans usually dislike their artists engaging with brands, so try to manage this situation and bring the fans on board by explaining that the money is being used to create better shows and better recordings.
  3. Engage with the digital services the brand intends to use.
  4. Try to get the brand to share data information (particularly email addresses) to expand the artist’s fan base.

Day two of the How to Make a Living from Music workshop will be recapped in part two of this post. Stay tuned to MusicTT’s website and social media @musicoftt for more news. 


Photos courtesy Marc Bain, Bain Photography