Telecommunication Companies “Rip Off” Musicians
The operations of Telecommunication companies have positive affected the economic fortunes of the country and provided employment for hundreds of persons. For close to a decade these telecommunication companies have embarked on several social projects and have helped many deprived in the society. They have also variously supported music development through sponsorship of programmes and projects like the Ghana Music Awards, Music Music, Allo, Tigo, Legend Nights and several other programmes. They have directly supported and promoted their music ambassadors. In fact, these companies have contributed tremendously to National Development.
However, what is not understandable is their dealings with artistes in terms of Ringtones, WAP services and other associated deals. It is a known fact that these telecommunication companies are set out to make profits but making profits and ripping off are two different things. Our argument will be limited to the Ring tone and Caller Ring back Services provided by Tigo and MTN.
Prior to the introduction of the ringtone and call back services, artistes had no direct sale source of finance besides album sale which has been sour over some years now. The introduction of these services has made the lot of the artistes much better. These Telecommunication companies do not directly provide these services, their modus operandi is to give rights to a few agents they work with to contract artistes for their songs. Working through agents is not in its self a problem as it is believed to afford the telecommunications the opportunity to concentrate on their core business.
Here is the Rip off: these telecommunications take a fixed percentage for the use of their platform. That in it self is not a problem but they take as much as 50% for MTN and 65% for Tigo leaving 50% and 35% respectively. Now watch this: MTN – 50%, Tigo – 65%. The Agent then shares the remaining 50% or 35% with the musician whose intellectual property is on sale. How far can this be? Is it anything less than a rip-off. These agents also take half or more of the remaining percentage. Some like Music Mosaic will from time to time depending on the artistes and negotiating abilities give 65% of the remaining 35% or 50% to the artistes.
The idea of taking 50 – 65% of what is generated from these ringtone and call back services is simply a rip off and the various music associations must stand up and start doing something about it. The myriad of divisions and new associations and collection societies are not doing anything to ensure that these rip offs are done away with. These Telecommunication companies have no business in that line if artistes refuse to give their works to them.
This problem needs urgent attention; the artistes must make more money. It is simply unacceptable for the artistes to end up with 25% or 17.5% of his/her own work. It is a total rip off. The Telecommunication companies and their agents should start taking another look at the scenario before the artistes become enlightens and if they think that will never happen they should think again. There is a wind of change, a revolutionary wind blowing across Ghana a far as music is concerned and failure to do anything about this might get them out of business. Do not forget there are other Telecommunication companies feverishly working on similar platforms with better rates to artistes.