Our Local Artists Are Losing Money, and They May Not Even Know It

This is serious. In fact, this is a major make-or-break for Trinidad and Tobago’s music industry. Every industry has a platform that can be likened to a table-top, below which are the foundational legs for its stability and even its survival. In music, intellectual property (IP) is one of those legs. IP is the global ‘currency’ of the entire music industry, and a lack of understanding and proper exploitation of the same is a certain indicator of one thing: an industry that will never prosper.

This may seem like a depressing and negative perspective, but having witnessed even the general aversion to simple contract-signing for live performances due to a misguided ‘handshake culture,’ the worry is justified. We are quick to argue about there being so much more that needs to be done, by the Government and public sector, by the media and broadcasters, by the private sector and by our citizens. I agree. I also believe there is much more that needs to be taught to, and absorbed by, our music industry practitioners.

The Pen is Mightier than the Sword |

Intellectual Property has one guiding universal truth: the pen has always been, and will always be, mightier than the sword. In light of this truth, there are two major challenges that must be overcome locally:

  1. Firstly, there needs to be a cultural shift towards valuing the written word over the spoken word
  2. Secondly, people need to intimately get to know what they don’t know about their intellectual property rights. Why? Because the majority of music revenue can only be accessed through the leveraging of those IP rights, and half the battle is having those rights put down in black-and-white.

Sources of Revenue |

What are the sources of music income/revenue? Some of the sources can be viewed in the diagram below (Source: HCL Technologies Limited), but there are in fact over 40 revenue streams according to the Future of Music Coalition. You can view these and their definitions here: http://money.futureofmusic.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/revenue-streams-handoutlist.pdf). As expected, most of these sources involve the direct exploitation of music intellectual property (such as copyrights, trademarks, licenses and royalties).


MusicTT’s IP Valuation Workshop| 

MusicTT has been mandated to develop capacity within the local music industry so that T&T can be a global player through music export. We have also been mandated to generate national wealth through the same.

It would have been remiss of us if we did not conduct a workshop in one of the most critical areas needed to enable our artists to do exactly that. We did not, however, just want to have a discussion around music IP – we wanted our artists to understand how to practically value it. Music auditing and valuation is the process of putting a dollar value next to your IP. It enhances your ability to negotiate as you are empowered with the facts and figures around how much your music and your brand is actually worth.

As such, we have partnered with Carla Parris (Attorney at Law, Entertainment and Intellectual Property Law) to produce this upcoming workshop scheduled to take place on March 4th and 5th 2016. Ms. Parris has 12 years of practical experience in the creative sector and she has also operated as a consultant for the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). She has participated in over 12 local and regional conferences in the areas of IP law and the creative sector. Also featured will be Guest Speaker Heather Baldwin-McDowell, IP/Public Relations Practitioner, alongside presentations from the Intellectual Property Office of Trinidad and Tobago (IPO) and COTT.

At this workshop, you will learn about:

  • Intellectual Property Principles: Trademarks, ownership, infringement, parody and fair use
  • An Introduction to Talent Representations alongside the Legal and ethical issues in representing talent in the music industry
  • The Artist as a brand: building businesses for the digital age
  • The rise of digital distribution and dividing the digital music pie
  • Traditional business models: players, deals and distribution platforms
  • Contract Law sources
  • IP auditing and IP valuation, and the specific IP rights that can be appraised in the music industry
  • Establishing the ownership of specific IP rights being appraised, especially when the subject asset may have been created through the efforts of several individuals (or on some other contractual basis)
  • Methods used in valuating IP (inclusive of the cost, market and income methods) and when they should be considered or rejected

Spaces are limited and are on a first-come first-serve basis (register now to attend for FREE: www.musictt.co.tt/ip) but rest assured that we will be taping and packaging this workshop so that you will have access to the knowledge after the workshop.

This two-day Music Intellectual Property Valuation Workshop clearly cannot cover what entertainment lawyers and IP specialists have taken years to learn, but if it accomplishes these two goals then we would have succeeded: you should finally know what you didn’t know, and you should be driven to address that and stop losing money.