Acquiring revenue from the sale of digitised music, subscription and streaming services, remains to be a mystery for a lot of Caribbean performers, song writers, producers and others involved within the music production.
Nonetheless, a special project led by Barbadian entertainment consultant Derek Wilkie, and financed by the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) Creative and Cultural Industries Innovation Fund (CIIF), is putting artistes from several Caribbean countries much closer to accessing these platforms and monetising their creations. In keeping with statistics from the American music industry, subscription and streaming revenues reached US$10.07 billion in 2020, making up the overwhelming majority of revenues for your entire music industry.
Wilkie, nevertheless, is anxious that too many regional artistes are absent for this lucrative space. Because of this, he’s working to make sure that Caribbean performers with existing musical work and people creating new music, are armed with the knowledge and capabilities to take advantage of the fullest economic gains possible from their creativity.
The accelerator, facilitated by the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, with contributions from regional partners the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA) and Compete Caribbean, catered to Caribbean performers, composers, and authors of musical works to assist them transition from the physical distribution of music to the fashionable mode of digital distribution.
The project, which received US$40,000 in CDB funding, attracted 22 participants from Grenada, St Vincent, Guyana, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago, who were exposed to insight from the a number of the leading experts in the realm. Of the unique funding US$10,000 was offered as a grant prize to 1 participant to develop a marketing and marketing strategy for a new release.
Wilkie, the lead project facilitator, explained: “A fantastic team of internationally regarded music professionals including Ivan Berry, Devon Carty and Spencer Mussellam, the label manager of Imagine Music, based in Canada was assembled. Imagine Music is a large player within the digital music industry. They’re a distribution partner who receive content after which they filter it out to all the streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and others.”
The lead facilitator is a founder member of the Barbados Copyright Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (COSCAP) and a former chair of the Caribbean Copyright Link, the body set as much as facilitate the region’s performing rights organisations. “We within the region are producing numerous work and putting it on the market but we’re, for essentially the most part, doing it incorrectly. For instance, persons are releasing new music, uploading it to YouTube and other streaming platforms with none kind of metadata. The metadata is the DNA of the song.
“It says who’s the producer, composer, the writer, the publisher and it carries unique code numbers that discover the music when it’s streamed globally. This lets you get royalties coming through the system for us to receives a commission,” the entertainment executive disclosed. Without that data, he disclosed, the music of Caribbean artistes might be downloaded and streamed tens of millions of times without the revenue from royalties ever paid to the rightful owners.
The CDB’s CIIF-funded project is an attempt to handle this case by training and equipping regional writers, producers, authors and publishers with practical real-world experience within the processes. Participants are from across the Caribbean from Guyana, through the Eastern Caribbean and The Bahamas within the South.
“We held a 4-day session to listen to from them first, learning what they’re doing and giving them the perfect leads and possible strategies for new releases in a digital medium.” The music executive added: “It was interesting to listen to from a few of them what they were doing.”
A frequent lament emerging from participants was their inability to grasp revenue even when it appeared their music was gaining significant traction online. As Wilkie explained, “You’ll be able to’t get royalties if nobody knows that you simply are to be paid since you should not within the system accurately.” “A variety of time was also spent through the project on marketing and the procedures required before releasing new music and what must be done on a world basis to create an audience,” Wilkie identified.
Conceding there was still a lot for Caribbean creatives to find out about operating within the digital space, he really useful more collaborations between bodies resembling COSCAP, the Jamaica Association of Composers Authors and Publishers, and mental property rights partners around the globe.
“Performing rights organisations within the region, at this point, are unable to properly monitor the vast amount and volume of music that’s being streamed and released. “There are tens of millions of songs streamed day by day and anyone has to analyse it. We don’t have wherewithal to do this within the Caribbean and so we’d like reciprocal agreements to make certain we receives a commission as well.”
Despite the trepidation of some regional creatives to enter the digital music and streaming space, Wilkie assured that when undertaken accurately, streamed music can develop into a reliable source of income. He added: “With the digital platforms, persons are still uploading back catalogues released a few years ago. We’re talking about tens of millions of songs that individuals are attempting to get within the streaming environment . . . . You could have got to digitise, create the metadata, link it and upload it.”
As proof of how a well-coordinated approach to content distribution works, Wilkie referenced his working partnership with The Orchard – the world’s largest distributor of audio and video content and Imagine Music (Canada).