GHAMRO’s Attempt To Make Blogs Pay Royalties Is Bias

GHAMRO (Ghana Music Rights Organization) is attempting to get all music Blogs Licensed and make them pay royalties for songs they share on those blogs.

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Hello, It’s me Mr. Aborga once again… The only organization we have in Ghana responsible for collecting royalties for music artistes, have come up with a new initiative targeting blogs/websites to forcibly get them licensed and make them pay royalties for songs uploaded on those blogs. I think it is a good initiative but with the wrong approach.

The whole initiative sound bias because the only reason they want this to happen is because, websites have google Adsense and they make money through that. Excuse my words but this is just a polite way of saying “We are not happy you are making money from your blog”

I will try as much as I can to make this very short and straight to the point. Most of these blogs you see sharing songs are personal blogs. To add to this, a Blog is a platform where writers share their opinion about something regarding their area of topic. Hence, Mr Aborga being a music blogger, shares his opinion on songs and the entire production process.

This means, I (Mr. Aborga) can write about a song without necessarily sharing the mp3 file for free download unless of course, everything shows I have the right or I’m allowed to share for free download if needed. The confusing part of GHAMRO’s initiative is, even if you embed a SoundCloud link or YouTube link, you are eligible to pay royalties. That is ridiculous…

I have every reason to believe that, when this whole plan was drawn, they only had the top artistes in mind who are already having huge hits on YouTube or SoundCloud and totally forgotten about the young artistes who have no idea about where to register their song and how GHAMRO track their royalties. 99% of up and coming artistes only know GHAMRO is responsible for royalties but how and where to make them know their songs are released and need to be registered is an endless maze.

Dear GHAMRO, when artistes upload their songs on SoundCloud, Limewire, Hulkshare and all those FREE services, they are very aware that, they won’t get paid for that. And a poor Ghanaian blogger EMBEDDING those free services have to pay royalties? That’s laughable… This is one reason why I said the initiative is bias… It’s either you want to dissolve all blogs or websites which has contributed highly to music promo in Ghana or you simply want to make money from them. (No disrespect)

Oh… And do you know even YouTube, aside showing ads on the main website, the artiste have to decide whether they want to monetize it or not? And when the artiste decide to monetize it, YouTube pays the artiste depending on how many times an ad shows ON the video? Meaning the artiste makes money depending on how many Ad views they have on their video and not the ads showing on the main website… If people skip those ads and watch the video, they don’t make any money… (Those ads on the video shows when website embed them and the money still goes to the artiste via YouTube)

A website like CDBaby.com responsible for distributing songs to streaming websites and music stores like iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, etc; they give options if the artiste want to allow free download on other websites too. It’s up to the artiste to decide to have paid and free platforms combined…

The sad part is, even if a blog puts up a song for download illegally, the owner of that site has a grace period to delete that post or disable the free download. There is nothing like instant justice. So instead of putting so much energy and resources counting how many illegal downloads a blog has, I will suggest you put in some rules your members must follow and invest in making sure the public is educated on intellectual property.

These are things you should look at… Making a by-law targeting blogs who put their jingles in songs. You go to a national event like the Ghana Music awards and you hear website jingles while the artiste is performing. Very appalling and unprofessional! Secondly those who rip songs from YouTube videos and share them as MP3 download.

Members should instruct blogs whether they want their songs to go out for free download or not. If you want blogs to get a License to operate as an approved website to download songs for free, that’s fair; but asking them to pay royalties is way out of line. If you can track sites offering unauthorized free downloads, that’s fine as well but don’t attack websites the artistes themselves gave songs to for download. The artiste have the right to sell a song and at the same time, make it available for download. This does not mean you can’t track other royalties.

If you want blogs to pay royalties, then allow us to edit songs and put adverts in between so that the number of plays determine how much as artiste gets as royalties. Just like how Spotify does it. Spotify gives an option to the user to subscribe (That money is what they use to pay royalties and not the adverts on the app) OR free users will listen to adverts after every song plays. (That is also used to pay royalties and not the ad showing on the app or website)…

The internet is a free platform and no blogger needs a license to share opinions unless they want to. The money made from Google adsense isn’t 100% theirs. Google take their share and the banks in Ghana take theirs as well. So in a way, they pay tax. According to tax laws in most countries you need to earn up to a certain amount in a year to pay tax. To add to this not all bloggers make the same money each month. Some make only 70 dollars in 3 months!

I can go on and on to explain why this whole initiative isn’t having the right approach. I know most of you are legends in the music scene and know more about what is right and what is not in regards to sharing songs on a website. Please call some of the “big” bloggers and discuss with them and let them put their suggestions on the table as well. This is how the industry grow and no one will bully the other. If you need my contribution to this initiative, I’m always available. Thank You.

Yours Friendly

Alfred Brain Aborga.

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