The formation of the nation's first ever music rights is helping musicians in Ghana to earn more value for their work.

There are strong indications that Ghanaian Musicians are earning more income from their works, following the formation of the Ghana Music Rights Organization (GHAMRO) to supervise the collection of rights due music makers in Ghana.

Some of the musicians who are now receiving various payments as rights from entities such as restaurants, radio stations and drinking bars which make use of their work have expressed their gratitude to Metro TV, an Accra based station for the advocacy role played to ensure the establishment of GHAMRO.

The Board Chairman of GHAMRO, Mr. Carlos Sekyi pointed out that Metro TV's advocacy action paved the way for a better protection of Ghana's music industry, as it led to the formation of GHAMRO, the first music rights collection body in Ghana.

"This new music rights organization works to ensure that musicians get paid by entities who make use of their works. Media houses, bars, restaurants and other entities who make regular use of music pay a certain amount as rights into the coffers of GHAMRO. These amounts are collated and shared among musicians on an annual basis. This system ensures that musicians earn value for their intellectual property," Mr. Sekyi stated.

Mr. Sekyi further pointed out that GHAMRO is currently embarking on a nationwide campaign to sensitize all stakeholders and the general public to support the rights collection programme and desist from piracy, as such illegitimate practices discourage investors from investing in the music industry.

Mr. Sekyi also noted that the successful advocacy action of Metro TV also enabled musicians to make inputs into the controversial Copyright Act 690, 2005 for the good of Ghana's music industry.

"In collaboration with concerned Ghanaian artistes, the Metro TV advocacy action was able to delay Presidential assent to the controversial Copyright Act 690, 2005, until certain amendments were made to the bill in favour of Ghana's music industry," Mr. Simons remarked.

Metro TV's successful advocacy action also played a significant role in attracting government support to address the needs of Ghana's music industry.

Mr. Sekyi further affirmed that using 14 episodes of TV discussion programmes, the advocacy action highlighted the concerns of Ghana's music industry, prompting the then government to start paying attention to the industry by making budgetary allocations to the creative sector for the first time in the 2012 fiscal budget.

Mr. Sekyi further observed that as result of the advocacy action, many Ghanaian musicians now have an improved awareness of their rights, as the advocacy action led to the education of artistes on what to expect from entities who use their music.

Beyond the formation of GHAMRO, Metro TV's successful advocacy action also paved the way to the formation of other intellectual rights collection societies to cater for rights related to book publishers, movie makers, etc in Ghana.

For many years, the music industry in Ghana was plagued by several challenges which discouraged potential investors from investing within the industry. Notable among these challenges was the lack of effective laws and regulations to protect the industry and low level of awareness on intellectual property rights among musicians. In order to address these challenges, Metro TV Ltd. sought support from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund to enable musicians to advocate the enactment and enforcement of effective regulations to protect the intellectual works of musicians within the country.

Being a pro-private sector programme, the BUSAC Fund, with the support of its Development Partners, DANIDA, USAID and the EU, provided an advocacy grant to the leadership of Metro TV Ltd to enable them advocate the enactment and enforcement of laws and regulations to protect the Ghana's music industry. As part of the advocacy action, Metro TV, in collaboration with musicians and key stakeholders produced and telecast 14 episodes of TV discussion programmes which educated relevant duty bearers and musicians about the needs and concerns of Ghana's music industry.

By Ebenezer Kpentey