Spouge icon Desmond Fowl Weekes has suggested it be mandatory for all radio stations to play only Barbadian music in a bid to put more cash from royalties into entertainers’ pockets in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Weekes, one half of the famed 1970s duo, The Draytons Two, made the suggestion after presenting a copy of his new song Henrietta Marie to Minister in the Prime Minister’s office with responsibility for Culture John King, Wednesday at the ministry’s Sky Mall, Haggatt Hall office.
Last October, King and Minister for Broadcasting Wilfred Abrahams spearheaded the relaunch of 94.7 FM as an all-Barbadian music station at the Government-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation.
Weekes said entertainers are barely making ends meet because of the restrictions on their ability to work. He noted that the Copyright Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (COSCAP) is the only place that musicians can get money for their music played on the airwaves.
He declared: “A little dollar, not no big dollar. But the money we get from COSCAP can’t provide for our family, but at least it would help. So if all the radio stations play at least 95 per cent of Barbadian music I am sure that with the royalties that they send into COSCAP, each and every one of us would get something.
“The entertainers in Barbados need to go and join COSCAP. We have to let the radio stations know that we are important.”
Barbadian radio stations are required by law to obtain a copyright licence, pay licence fees to COSCAP and submit performance logs of all the music broadcast.
COSCAP then deducts administration fees and processes the performance logs so that it knows the copyright holders to whom royalties must be paid for the use of their music. If the music user is not paying licence fees, then no royalties can be paid by COSCAP to its members and affiliates.
Earlier on Wednesday, entertainer Carl Alff Padmore called on members of the public to adopt entertainers unable to work at this time, and offer them support however possible.
But Weekes told reporters he was not sold on any adoption talk, saying that he believes that despite the restrictions entertainers face due to the pandemic, there are creative projects that they can embark on to sell their products to supporters.
Weekes said he sees the need for entertainers to formulate a business plan in their best interest which they must present to Government.
He said: “We have to come together and make a business plan. We have to let people know that we are serious and we are the people of this country and we need to be supported.
“We need to unite, get together and trust one another. We got to package ourselves and we have to get together to sell our product in these COVID times. There are things that we can do that we can make money and we can ask the public to support us.
“We don’t have to beg people to adopt us. Adopt us what? We are children or we are garbage or something? We have talent and when you have talent, talent is riches. It is just that you have to find a way to make your talent viable for you. You have to brainstorm.”
The entertainer went on to say that while a significant number of entertainers usually rely on the hotels for work, they must keep in mind that “the hotels are business people” who will pay whatever they want for a service.
Some hotels would pay top dollar, he said, but some have made clear that they cannot afford significant sums.
Weekes said it is up to entertainers to demand what they want to be paid.
“We talk about the Jamaicans coming here and getting all the money and Bajans don’t get no money. You know why? Jamaicans are selling their product. And we the people of Barbados are buying Jamaican product where music is concerned and we are forgetting our own. We have to fill our stars in Barbados,” he said.
Weekes said his self-penned song, Henrietta Marie, produced on a new afro-spouge beat, captures the pain and suffering that ancestors had to go through as they sailed on rough seas from Africa to Barbados and other islands.
He said the song is part of the historic preservation that provides a link to the roots of the community and its people.
He said: “It helps us remember who we are and where our families journeyed from. A song like this is important to celebrate our heritage because it is a time to share our culture with the youth and for all of us to learn about our own culture and heritage. We must know where we come from to know where we are going as a people.”