Dozens of Barbadian artistes are said to be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue because of poor management and a lack of education about how to use the digital space to market and sell their music, a recording industry executive has said.
CRS Music CEO Stephen Lubin contended that the suffering of artistes during the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the extent to which many of them have been selling themselves short.
He told Barbados TODAY that while there has never been a shortage of talent in the Caribbean, basic blunders on the business side of the industry could be costing artistes millions across the region.
“There really is a lack of management throughout the region, a lack of people advising, there’s a partial attitude where they think they know what they’re doing and sadly they don’t. It’s a big big problem and hopefully, that will change through initiatives like this and more education,” said Lubin.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a regional symposium on music digitisation put on by the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, the Cultural Industries Innovation Fund, the International Development Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank, Compete Caribbean and Export Barbados.
The four-day symposium that concludes on Friday features record executives from Canada, the United Kingdom and Anguilla presenting virtually to 40 artistes from around the region. But only one of the participating artistes is a Barbadian.
Lubin, who has uploaded nearly 5,000 songs to the internet for mainly Barbadian and regional artistes, contends that many are losing money because of basic mistakes, like failing to include an International Standard Recording Code (ISRC), which he described as the digital “fingerprint” associated with an artiste’s track.
“So for instance if an artiste has one million plays of their song on YouTube, but the correct information is not being put in there, they won’t see any monies,” said Lubin. “I can help them from that point onwards, but I can’t help them from what’s already happened. What’s happened in the past, you’ll never see a penny for.
“I think what has sadly happened from this COVID-19 situation is that it has made artistes aware that they weren’t receiving money from those sources and now they are going to start focusing on it. When they were touring and everything was hunky dory, they were focusing on that.”
But even in live performances, the more profitable avenue for revenue generation, Lubin expressed concern that many are leaving “thousands” on the table for failing to submit their music to the rights collection agency.
He said: “We have artistes that go to New York, Toronto, Atlanta and perform in front of ten thousand people. Well, if they registered the ten songs that they played that night, I am positive they would see an equal amount as to what they received for the actual performance as they would through the reciprocal system where the [performing rights organisations] PROs around the world then send the money to the Copyright Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Incorporated [COSCAP].
“Even here locally, when somebody plays down in St Lawrence Gap, they should submit the songs that they play that night to COSCAP because where they’re playing in St Lawrence Gap, the people are paying a licence to COSCAP for having entertainment, so therefore part of that licence fee would go toward the artistes who perform. But if you don’t claim that you did those songs at a venue in St Lawrence Gap, the money goes straight to COSCAP and they have nowhere to disperse it to.”
Executive Producer and Intellectual Property Rights advocate Derek Wilkie, one of the programme’s organisers, revealed that the artistes’ genres range from hip hop to rock, to soca and reggae.
“Everybody is trying new things to try to find out what is the right medium. Do I produce a song with a TikTok [social media video] component to it, for example? So we have some experts here who will be explaining those things over the next couple days,” Wilkie told Barbados TODAY.
“I think the real rationale here is that institutions such as BIDC, the Cultural Innovative Fund and IDB see the creative industries as a good, sustainable opportunity for the future and it’s great that they have agreed to put this event on.” [email protected]