With scores of recording artists and creatives depending on Government assistance to shield them from the fallout of COVID-19, fresh calls are being made for deejays and media managers to put more local content on the airwaves.
Chief Executive Officer of Copyright Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Inc. (COSCAP) Erica Smith, President of the Barbados Association of Calypsonians and Artistes (BACA) Sean Carter and local recording artiste, Jamal Slocombe have all weighed in on the longstanding argument.
But this year, given that royalties may well be the only income earned by Barbadian stakeholders, both Carter and Slocombe have called for Government to commit at least one radio station to the dissemination of 100 per cent local content.
COSCAP’s latest figures indicate that while U.S $195,000 was exported to international members, just 26,000 was paid for Barbadian music played overseas.
Meanwhile, US $133,132 (BDS $263,601) was paid to local artistes in royalties for music played on Barbadian radio stations at local events – most of which is usually accumulated during the Crop Over festival.
“So the fear we have is that without a Crop Over festival, and no increase in the amount of local music played on the radio, then we really would not have much to pay to local artistes,” explained COSCAP’s CEO.
Smith added: “Their royalties mainly come from increased airplay and live performances, but with no live performances occurring, we need a lot of airplay if we want to keep money in the pockets of locals.”
The highest market for incoming royalties outside of Barbados is Trinidad and Tobago and according to Smith, the situation could be further impacted if the country’s Carnival 2021 festivities are cancelled.
While noting that her call was not for only local content on the airwaves, she lamented that in many cases, even the international music being broadcast from many local radio stations lacked diversity.
“I don’t want to call any radio station by name, but if you listen primarily to a certain popular radio station, you will not be exposed to much diverse music at the end of the day,” she stressed.
BACA President Sean Carter meanwhile noted a slight improvement in efforts to air local content on FM stations 94.7, 92.9 and 95.3. He however stressed that these improvements are not enough in the current circumstances and pleaded with radio hosts and deejays to be patriotic for at least the next nine to 12 months for the sake of local entertainers.
“With the absence of Crop Over including competitions, band launches, fetes, shows and overseas tours, there is a heavy dependence this year, more so than any other year, on airplay. Many of the Soca and Bashment artistes have been releasing songs. So for even those deejays that don’t usually play local content, this is the time to be patriotic,” Carter pleaded.
“We are actually in the process of preparing a proposal to present to Minister [of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports] John King requesting that a state-owned station become a 100 per cent local station,” he revealed.
While noting that many artistes have been attracting large audiences through online live shows, such initiatives are done for free.
He also encouraged artistes to stream their music on online apps like Spotify, Apple Music and Starcom Network’s recently launched ‘Star Tunes’ to assist with revenue, while acknowledging that not as much new music was being produced.
Young Barbadian recording artise, Jamal Slocombe added his voice to the appeal for Government to implement policies which cushion the economic impact on vulnerable sectors like the cultural industries by adding a radio station which dedicates 100 per cent of its music to local talent.
“We have to move to a model that allows artistes to help themselves instead of looking to Government and corporate entities for paydays and establish platforms that allow Barbadians to hear themselves more,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“I am therefore appealing to radio stations in Barbados, both owned privately and by the state to increase the play of more local music and content to ensure we do not continue to ship generated royalties overseas,” he said.