While new factories and by-products are being planned for the beleaguered sugar industry, and millions are being poured into tourism (and rightfully so), Barbados has yet to fully tap into the economic potential of copyright as an exportable product. Luckily, the good folks at COSCAP (Copyright Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Inc.) have put a structure in place that could generate millions in foreign exchange for this island.
Let me give you the tea on exactly how this could work in the 246’s favour.
When physical products are exported toilet paper, disinfectant, clothing, cement, sugar, furniture, food items and chemicals are among Barbados’ leading exports a significant amount of money has to be spent not only on the manufacturing of these items, inclusive of high labour expenses, but also on transportation and shipping, as their weight alone bears costs.
Unlike the aforementioned, copyright has the distinct advantage of being weightless, requires no airline nor ship to take it to the purchaser, and can be sold every second of the day, all day across the globe.
When songs are played on (legitimate) radio stations anywhere on Earth, royalties are due to the various rights owners (producers, songwriters, singers, and so on). This money is calculated based on the number of plays the recording receives, and the amount of royalties determined by each territory.
That money is then paid to the various copyright organizations which extract their administration fees, and distribute the remaining funds to their members.
COSCAP with over 1,200 members exports every second of every day Barbadian copyright. Let’s make it easy to understand.
A song by Alison Hinds plays in Trinidad; the deejay logs the song; the accounts department at the station puts it in the system; money is paid to COTT (Copyright Music Organization of Trinidad and Tobago) and COTT in turn pays whatever is due to COSCAP; COSCAP then pays Alison Hinds, the songwriters and executive producers their share of the funds.
Putting it into a macro perspective, if COSCAP’s 1,200 members each receive one spin a day on 1,000 radio stations across the world (the United States alone has 4,000 radio stations), and (for the sake of easy calculation) each play is worth BDS50c, over the period of one year, this would translate to BDS$219 million per annum. Sounds far-fetched? It certainly is not.
Think of how many times a day per station across the world Rihanna’s music is played, and do the maths.
So how can we get to that level of revenue through this means? The answer is marketing. The island’s copyright catalogue needs to be supported by marketing and promotion on the global scale.
Tours, radio interviews, magazine features, music videos and so forth go a long way in stimulating airplay. Investment is therefore required to give the collective membership global exposure, and I recommend that this be done as a national initiative in support of the organization as it forges ahead with plans to maximize revenue.
It would take COSCAP signing just one Rihanna-level artiste for the organization to become the island’s leading exporter. Of note, Shontelle, Alison Hinds and Edwin Yearwood РР all acclaimed regional and to varying extents global hit-makers are all represented by COSCAP.
Let’s begin this movement at home as the reverse is true. If deejays play foreign music more than that registered with COSCAP, Barbados will then pay more money to internationals acts than what is retained at home. Sensitization has not worked; therefore a law is needed to guarantee that we are not working to pay the bills of overseas acts.
Could COSCAP be the answer to some of Barbados’ economic woes? The answer is a resounding yes.
(Ronnie Morris, president of Gold Coast Records and director of the Barbados Music Awards, is a former deputy chairman and director of COSCAP. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)