It was a revelation that got Ghana’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Paapa Owusu Ankomah, screaming.
Reggae Dancehall Musician, Stonebwoy, had visited him ahead of his performance at the Yam Carnival, a brand new Afrobeat music festival from the creators of Afro Nation.
At that meeting, he said, “the amount I have ever gotten as music royalties in Ghana is ¢2,000. I am being honest, and I swear on the grave of my mother. They do not pay us, and I am stating this on camera. The conversation is big in Ghana, and everybody knows.”
He further stated, “the cheque I have ever received from GHAMRO is ¢2,000. It is not by force to go on a tour and perform that is not obligatory. But as musicians, we do not make money from our intellectual property.”
But Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Music Rights Organisation (GHAMRO), Abraham Adjetey, reacting to Stonebwoys comment on the payment, said the Putuu hitmaker has not updated his records at the royalties collection agency.
“We sent Stonebwoy a thousand, and another thousand, that is why he spoke about ¢2,000. Now he is to follow up and update his records. If you have money for Stonebwoy today, if I do not have his bank account details, where do I send the money to? If there is money for Stonebwoy, the money will be here in GHAMRO’s accounts,” he said.
According to the royalties collection agency’s website, it is a non-profit corporate body (limited by guarantee), and, therefore, all fees collected are distributed among the right owners whose works have been used, in this instance, composers, authors and producers, publishers in proportion to the use made of their works.
Mr Adjetey said his team recently had a meeting with Stonebwoy and his team and advised him to update his records, but all efforts to get him to do the needful have proven futile.
“Recently we had a meeting with him and he indicated to us that he will send somebody. In fact, we took some pictures outside, but to date, nobody has come back.
“We have done some follow-ups, that is not to say because he has not done anything, but it is important for him to do his part so we can also send whatever money we have for him,” he said.
M Adjetey believes since musicians and content creators want to reap from their intellectual property, they should also recognise that the economy is not
fully developed like other Western countries.
He said digitisation will help address the current challenges, but a slow progression is also important. He said under the law, GHAMRO is limited to only 30%.
“We cannot take the money we want, if we collect ¢100,000, GHAMRO is limited to only 30% used for lights, pay staff, operate and also do everything. It is an inhibition, but that does not mean we shouldn’t work.”
He admits there are challenges but of the strong conviction that GHAMRO will surmount all the hurdles impeding its work with all hands on deck.
“We must admit GHAMRO has not done everything right. Our communication has not been very good, our relationship with members have not been one hundred per cent. So we are sorry we have not been up 100%.”
The royalties collection is expected to announce major policies this week. Mr Adjetey said that will bring a paradigm shift and change all musicians, composers and content creators are yearning for.