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«Prepared for Caribbean Export Development Agency Barbados April 2001 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION The rapid growth of an intellectual property and ...»

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History of the Recording Industry Recordings of Spouge in the 1960s signalled the birth of the recording industry in Barbados. However, after the decline of Spouge, it was the Merrymen who mostly did recordings and until mid-1970s, there was not much of a local recording industry. The recording industry got its first kick back to life by the dawning of the Crop Over Festival, which encouraged calypsonians to record their music – albeit seasonal. Since then recordings have become a critical aspect of the business, and are generally used by calypsonians to gain media exposure via radio airplay. Today, like in Trinidad and Tobago, many calypsonians produce records and CDs to attain radio airplay that would ultimately sway their chances of getting contracts to perform abroad.

By the 1980s, calypsonians were recording at home, regionally as well as in the USA and Canada. In Barbados, Eddie Grant’s ICE Records and WIRL (now Best Music) were the major producers of records, while within the region, Trinidad and Tobago was considered the mecca of recording and production. By the late 1980s, there were six studios for recording (three of which had hi-tech equipment), and one record production pressing plant in Barbados. Today, the number of recording studios has increased to about ten, majority of which are mini-studios, and as noted in the preceding table, the number of sound recordings being produced now stands at 500 per annum, the second third highest in the region.


Soundcarrier Market While data on the sales of soundcarriers retail or wholesale are not readily available, there is available data on the imports and exports. Total imports have more than tripled between 1995 and 1998. This increase is primarily in CD imports, while there have been some fluctuations in LP and MC imports.

Interestingly, despite the fluctuations, MC imports have remained higher than LP imports during the period under examination. This data reflects a significant shift in consumer tastes from LPs, which had traditionally dominated the retail market, to CDs.

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With respect to the export of soundcarriers, LPs have traditionally dominated the sale of soundcarrier exports but during the period under review, the volume of CD exports has been substantially greater than that of LPs. For instance, in 1995, the value of LP exports totaled BDS $29,685 whereas CD exports were valued at BDS $216,77. By 1997, both CD and LP exports had decreased, however CD exports were still more than double that of LPs.

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Source: Barbados Statistical Service Performances Barbados’ viable tourist sector presents the opportunity for local bands and artists to perform for the tourist market, which is in essence a foreign market.

Consequently, revenue derived from the hospitality sector can be considered export revenue. While the data in the Table below only pertains to institutions in the hospitality sector that obtain performance licenses, it still provides an indication of the potential revenue from the sector. It is important to note that with respect to fees for gigs at hotels and restaurants, the rate has generally remained the same since the 1970s. On industry source indicated that many artists and bands performing at these venues are still BDS $600 per gig. In the disco arena, however, the fee structure is slightly higher and performances are more frequent. In some instances a band or artist may perform twice in one week at the same venue.

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Apart from this potential revenue on the local market, most of the top bands in Barbados have looked to further expand on the foreign markets. Bands such as Coalition, Square One and krosfyah, which play Calypso music, have been showcasing their music to the world during their frequent tours abroad. The influence of Trinidad and Tobago calypso as well as the Trinidad-type carnival celebrations among the Caribbean diaspora have significantly contributed to the growth of overseas performances. Like their Trinidad and Tobago counterparts, top Barbadian bands and artists have been able to earn a good living from performing at these Carnivals. Similarly, earnings from these performances, even though difficult to estimate, are considered substantially larger than the export of recordings. It is estimated, according to industry sources, that a top band may earn as much BDS $351,524.69 annually from overseas performances.

Royalties Collections Currently in Barbados there are two copyright collections agencies – BAMCI and BACAP as well as a local Representative for the Performing Rights Society (PRS).

BAMSI represents the neighbouring rights of performers, record producers and phonograph producers, while BACAP represents the local rights of composers.

BAMCI has often gone beyond its mandate to ‘police’ the music industry. Its most notable action has been to file for a legal injunction over one of the top local nightclubs to prohibit the use of local music for which the nightclub did not have a license. Since this landmark decision, BAMCI has had some facility in the collection of royalties, although this could still be improved upon.

One of the primary concerns is that although royalties are being collected for local rights, there is little documented data to indicate the contribution of royalties to revenue in the music industry. However, data collected on behalf of PRS indicates that payments to foreign societies have generally increased annually, except in 1998 when collections fell to about BDS $379, 461 from about BDS$ 510,665 in 1997.

Royalties on Foreign Music Paid Abroad (BDS $) 386,952.99 451,981.73 502,832.29 510,664.96 379,461.01 Source: Performing Rights Society Notwithstanding the amount of royalties collected on behalf of PRS annually, it appears that there is a substantial amount of regional music played on the local radio stations. Indeed, these figures do not indicate the volume of collections for the local repertoire, but highlights that if collections are consistently done for this region’s music, royalties collections can become a substantial source of revenue.

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Introduction This study examines the structure and operations of the music industry in six Eastern Caribbean states: Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St.

Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines. These states are members of the OECS region, which is the second smallest sub-region in the Caribbean after the Dutch territories. The region has a population of 566,000 spread over eight islands, which makes for a fragmented market space. The largest territory, St. Lucia has a population of 151,000, while Montserrat, the smallest has only 5,000 persons.

The region has an economic profile that places it in the lower end of the middle income bracket of developing countries ranging from a high of US $6,990.00 in Antigua to a low of $2,603.00 in Grenada. The regional economy is largely dependent on two major export sectors: agricultural commodities like bananas and sugar and tourism. Traditional agricultural exports have been in decline and are under severe pressure due to trade liberalization. Tourism, which has become the key foreign exchange earning sector, is also faced with issues such as competition from the cruise ship industry and limited domestic value-added from all-inclusive hotels. The region attracted tourist arrivals of 908,000 in 1999, which creates an additional music market with purchasing power. The top three tourist destinations are Antigua, St. Lucia and Grenada.

The music industry in the OECS is a sector that has only recently begun to gain some recognition in governmental policy. This is because of the increasing contribution of the sector to the various national economies through its impact on the hospitality sector (e.g. entertainment at hotels, nightclubs and restaurants) and tourist arrivals and expenditures from the many Carnivals and music festivals. However, the economic impact of the music industry remains undocumented.

The Music and Recording Industry

The music industry in the OECS region has experienced some expansion in export capabilities in the last decade. The Eastern Caribbean has developed into a regional music production center, especially in the genre of calypso or soca. These territories currently contribute to the year round supply of calypso and soca in addition to that coming from the two largest production areas, Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados. In addition, there has been a steady stream of innovations in the calypso genre coming from the Eastern Caribbean. Some examples are the Dominican cadence-lypso, which was pioneered by Exile One and has influenced related styles like zouk (Henderson), the Jam-band soca music from bands like Antigua’s Burning Flames, and the jab-jab rhythms from Grenadian artist Tallpree and the band Riddum Mix.

There has also been a proliferation of other genres such as cadence, bouyon and zouk, which are to be found principally in Dominica and to a lesser extent in St. Lucia. Dominica is a special case because of the strong influence of the creole (kweyol) language, which Dominica shares with its nearest neighbours, the two French departments, Martinique and Guadeloupe, along with Haiti (Guilbault, 1993; Rabess, 2000). Reggae, jazz and gospel are also produced but in much smaller quantities.

There has been an increase in the number of recording artists in the Eastern Caribbean, however, there is no definitive data on the number of people or firms employed in the sector. The most authoritative source is based on the membership with the Performing Rights Society of the UK, which was the only copyright organization in the OECS region until 1999.

Table 1 gives some indication of the size of the sector (in terms of number of composers, artists, producers, compositions and sound recordings) in each of the territories that were represented by PRS. Dominica would be under-represented in this data because a large share of authors, composers and publishers are members of the French copyright society SACEM.

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The music industry in the OECS region has had some commercial successes in the last two decades. There are several artists who have had hit songs and have become well known in the regional, diasporic and international markets. The most famous case is that of calypsonian Arrow who hails from Monserratt. Arrow’s hit song “Hot, Hot, Hot” is the largest selling soca song with sales in excess of 4 million units. Other notable export successes are artists and bands like Beckett and Blaksand from St.

Vincent, Tallpree from Grenada, Swallow, Burning Flames and Ela Kru from Antigua, Exile One, Ophelia Marie and WCK from Dominica, Boo Hinkson and Luther Franscois from St. Lucia.

Most artists are not able to live as full-time professionals. Even those who have achieved some regional and international fame are required to earn a living overseas in North America. Many of the resident artists are very reliant on the performance income from the carnival season, especially from the calypso competitions. In this context sound recordings are essentially viewed as promotional material more so than merchandise for sale. This scenario has a far reaching impact on the recording industry.

The recording industry sub-sector is in its infancy. Most territories have seen the recent introduction of a number of small recording studios as a result of the new digital technologies. In many ways, the emergence of these studios has eliminated the need for artists to travel to the larger Caribbean territories like Trinidad, Barbados, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Jamaica or to go to New York, Miami and Toronto to access recording studios. This has resulted in an increase in sound recordings in the OECS sub-region. However, in each of the territories there are only two or three studios that are close to the requirements of the marketplace in terms of quality recording facilities and sound engineering.

Investment in this sub-sector is constrained by the small size of the market. This problem is not just a function of small population size. The problem of small size is exacerbated by the high level of copyright infringement, including piracy, and the weak intra-regional distribution mechanisms. Record producers and artists who invest in record productions are hard-pressed to secure a reasonable return on investment.

Consequently, the number of record companies and labels that are actively and profitably engaged in the industry are too few to achieve the required market penetration. As a result most artists are directly involved in marketing and distributing their products. This scenario has proven to be sub-optimal in meeting the demands of timely delivery of product, quality of packaging, and effective promotions and marketing.

The manufacturing of soundcarriers is another area that has proven to be problematic. There is no CD replication facilities or cassette manufacturers.

However, there is one CD duplication facility in Dominica, West Indies Communications Enterprise, which has the capacity to service the region.

Given the advances in technology such a facility can produce price and quality competitive soundcarriers. In several of the other territories recordable CD technology (CD burning) is available and services the demand for small orders. This largely meets the quality demands of local clientele but is not adequate for export marketing. Most CDs are imported from extra-regional sources. These imports enjoy duty-free concessions in most territories. However, the industry’s export capability is stymied because of the double duties in some cases as well as the double freight costs.

A major challenge for the recording industry is the high level of piracy and other forms of copyright infringement. The pirate market is highly developed as is the case in other Caribbean territories. One of the main contributing factors to the piracy is the role of radio DJs. Throughout the region record producers accuse radio personnel of passing on their music to pirates even before the record producer has had an opportunity to put the music on the market. CD burning technology is also used by the pirates to service the local market for compilations of the seasonal hits.

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