Photo Courtesy Marc Bain
Published on Thursday, April 20 2017
Likes. Clicks. Shares. Streams. Downloads. Royalties. All words with which artistes hoping to make it big in music must now be familiar. Even in the days before the internet, figuring out the path to stardom wasn’t easy and the digital era has done its part to complicate matters.
MusicTT recently hosted a workshop that showed artistes how they could navigate this space with the collaboration of the World Intellectual Property Office and the Intellectual Property Office of Trinidad and Tobago.
Titled “How to Make Money off the Internet,” artistes, talent managers, promoters and other music stakeholders who attended were given the tools to capitalise on their art and be handsomely paid for it.
Business Day spoke with invited guest speaker, David Stopps, an international artiste manager for the England based Friars Management Limited.
“I got one of my artiste’s songs in an advertisement in Japan for a Suzuki wagon. This advert was shown three, four times a day for a year on eight commercial stations. By the time the year was up, on the collections side, we got over US$480,000.”
“Basically, the event was about showing people how to make money off of music,” he explained. “How you get music into TV productions, film, advertising, video games. The best ways to get out on tour and maximise income from tours. How to promote yourself on social media. Other streams of income, such as publishing, or selling records and streaming. The way things are going, streaming is increasing exponentially.”
But the internet can be a double-edged sword. Just as mastering it can reap many rewards for the artiste, it is trickier than it seems. Using the livestreaming of artistes’ shows without their permission as an example, Stopps showed why the issue is so problematic.
“This is the problem with Facebook and Youtube. They are what you call safe habours where they can put anything up, unless they are told to take it down. It is completely wrong. The whole music industry is fighting this internationally,” he said.
“The thing is, they could be asked to take it down, and they will. But an hour later, it’s back up there, placed there by somebody else.”
Given this, Business Day asked Stopps, how does an artiste monetise his or her art in this environment?
Stopps suggested getting their music up on aggregator services such as Spotify, a music, podcast, and video streaming service. It was developed by startup Spotify AB in Stockholm, Sweden and officially launched in October 2008. While Spotify does not currently serve the region, Stopps said it was still important for artistes to get their music there since people in North American and European markets were buying. The potential for earnings is certainly there. According to Stopps, the average person in the UK spent $21 annually on music services, while in the US, this figure was $15.
“Local artiste may say we haven’t got Spotify, we can ignore it. But they can’t. They have to get their music up on Spotify so the rest of the world can buy it and then the money will come back to them.”
Stopps also said TT has the required copyright legislation, but enforcement seemed to remain a problem. He suggested enforcement powers for bodies tasked with defending artiste rights in addition to an education programme for the populace.
“There should be education to show that music has a value. You can’t just share it for free and think things will be fine. If you do, the artiste will suffer.”
Stopps also observed that collective management agencies in TT do not seem to be working well.
“There is one CMO for publishers and there is one CMO for neighbouring rights,” said Stopps, who serves as a director for a CMO for neighbouring rights in England.
He recounted the level of distrust that existed between the two in England until it was realised that neither organisation was actually encroaching on the others’ turf. He said both organisations combined their licenses into one, so that neither party would approach members of the public asking for payment of two separate music licenses.
He advised that a similar approach be used in TT between the two local bodies.
“If the two can work together on public performance licensing for example, that is more efficient and more money will come back to the publishers, authors and record companies. Someone needs to take the bull by the horns and say this is a mess, we need to sort it out.”
Stopps said he loves Ultimate Rejects’ Full Extreme and thought it, and much of soca music had the potential to earn big returns on the international market.
Referring to the Japanese example where close to half a million US dollars was earned from one placement, Stopps said there was no reason why soca music could not do the same.