Photo (Courtesy Marc Bain): David Stopps at the How to Make a Living from Music workshop
Source: Trinidad Guardian
Published on April 8th, 2017 by Paula Lindo
“If you’re not at the bus stop, you’re never going to get on the bus.” Managing director of FML International Artist Management David Stopps said this is the philosophy he tries to inculcate in musicians to prepare them to take advantage of opportunities.
Stopps was the feature speaker at a MusicTT workshop How to Make a Living through Music, which was held on April 6-7 at the Cascadia Hotel, St Ann’s.
This is the latest in a series of workshops he has carried out worldwide on behalf of the World Intellectual Property Organization (IPO).
“Particularly in the Caribbean and South America, it opens people’s eyes to the fact that music has a value. A lot of people think it would be absurd to pay for music since you can download it from the Internet for free.
“We’ve got to get rid of that mindset and educate people that music is valuable and the creators of music need to get paid, as well as the record companies, the publishers and the collective management organisations (CMOs).”
Stopps said this attitude presents a hindrance to initiatives which would be helpful to the music industry in T&T.
“For example, the IPO is very keen to roll out (web-based music distribution platform) Spotify in T&T, but having looked at the music economy, they realise that no-one is paying for music, so why would they subscribe to Spotify if they can get music for free?
“So that’s what the IPO and the Government have to address—that you can have laws but laws are no good unless there’s a degree of enforcement.”
He said there needs to be some reform and restructuring of the CMOs in T&T.
“The set-up doesn’t seem to be very effective at the moment and I think the Government and the societies have to get together to try and create an efficient structure that is for the benefit of everybody, including record companies, performers, authors, publishers, and the users.”
There are several organisations concerned with music copyright in T&T, including the Copyright Organisation (Cott), Recording Industry Association (Riatt), and the T&T Copyright Collection Organisation.
“Having competing CMOs is not a healthy situation. You want one society to deal with authors’ rights and one society to deal with recordings and performance and they can work together to licence in the public performance arena.
“Everything in music is in two halves; there’s the songwriter’s side and then the performer’s side, and both of those people need to get paid every time a record is played.”
Stopps said it was important for musicians in T&T to get onto all the digital platforms like iTunes, Apple Music and Spotify, whose services are available all over the world.
“The rest of the world is really interested in the music coming out of T&T and they need to be able to find it and pay for it.
“That money will come back from the country and the musicians, so if you’re a recording artist you need to try to make your music available to people around the world and the Internet allows you to do that.”
Stopps said the actual income for the music industry has been going up since 2015 as people in every country are consuming music more and more. Before that, he said, it had been going down for ten years because of the Internet.
He said it was a very exciting time as now more than ever it is possible to make a living through music.
“Music is a very important part of life. You see people walking down the street with earbuds in and if you take music away from a club at night you won’t have anything left, so it’s never been more important, and yet people don’t value it in terms of money as much as they should.”
Stopps said if musicians were able to make it to the right place and were playing the right type of music they could make a living from their music, “particularly if you can travel with your local music, like the pan players who came to England, if they can get their airfare money together they could do quite well doing that sort of stuff and obviously you can play in Carnivals, Notting Hill, etc.”
He also said there was a huge market for music placement which musicians are missing out on.
Stopps said one of his artists recently got almost half a million US dollars for the placement of a song he had written in a Suzuki advertisement in Japan.
During his workshops, Stopps gives advice to musicians on how to get in touch with Hollywood music supervisors and people who put music into advertisements, TV productions and video games, and he said musicians can reach out directly to these people on their own.
Stopps said if musicians such as Omi, the Jamaican musician who sang the hugely popular song Cheerleader, which sold more copies and had more downloads and streams than any other single in 2015, can make it, any Caribbean musician can.
“Now I’m not saying that everybody’s going to do it but I always say if you’re not at the bus stop, you’re never going to get on the bus.”