Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Derailed Illusions

Common knowledge in the entertainment industry in Ghana is that consumers do not pay entertainers their due. We do not pay royalties. Radio stations, TV stations, the websites, in fact, almost nobody pays royalties in Ghana.

This means common knowledge number two is that we know our artists and actors are generally relatively broke. Please, do not make an example of one artist or actor who has made it. The catch phrase here is “generally relatively broke.”

This piece has been inspired by a number of factors with the most annoying one being entertainers who overrate themselves. Those who just think that so far as their faces and voices are popular, they have to earn a lot of money, from, say, one musical appearance. I have had a lot of annoyance concerning musicians especially and their so-called managers who demand amounts for shows, irrespective of the audience of the show and the rate and venue. They just feel that so far as they have been called for a show, they have to be paid, say, GHC3,000. The show, whether it is to be staged at the Dome of the Conference Center with all the security apparatus that comes with it and an entrance fee of GHC50 per head or whether it is to be staged on the relatively small compound of a junior or senior high school with no entrance fee at all or whether it is to be staged in a small night club or a university hall with an entrance fee of GHC5, these managers feel their rate should be the same. It gets me to shake my head because, for one thing, even one brand of a manufactured consumable commodity is sold at different prices at different places. Managers, I am bidding you to learn about price discrimination. It will go a long way to project your artist’s image and scope.

The second inspiration stems from artists who simply overrate themselves. I mean, come on, you have two or three albums out, none got a single hit. You have this current album with one song that has a catchy chorus which the public hold on to and you start to think event organizers must pay you amounts which, come to think of it, seems like you sometimes want to cover your entire cost of production from your previous album or two from the pocket of the event organizers. Meanwhile, what will you be doing on stage? Will it not be miming? You will start off by singing some excerpts from some other tracks which the audience will seriously not like, then you will do your popular track, get two girls to wine their waist and leave the stage after eight minutes. Mind you, the cheers you get are usually for the girls who inevitably face the audience with their asses.

The third reason is actually a plea. When an artist is called upon to perform on a platform, aside been paid to entertain, I think it will help them a lot if they start to actually realize that it is probably the most effective way for them to know how well the public really appreciate them and their music and to use those platforms to work on their subsequent acts. Aside that, it is also a way for them to build on their fan base. Stop threatening event organizers with “if you do not pay GHCX amount, my artist will not perform.” Ask questions. Ask for venue, entrance fee, time of program and even other artists on the bill. Go in there and win hearts. Build your fan base. Listen to the cheers but do not let it get to your head and if the boos come through, walk off as quickly as you can.

My friend, Nana Kojo Duah of Oxygen once wrote on facebook that if your badly painted photograph is nowhere visible in the city, then your celebrity status is in your head. Well, there is some truth in there, isn’t it?

As we all appreciate that royalties are not paid in Ghana, relatively, and as we can only hope that MUSIGHA is working feverishly on getting this anomaly corrected, may I suggest again, that these artists and musicians should think of other ways of making money aside demanding annoying payments and getting on stage to mime. If business will affect their creativity, as is usually the case, they should get other persons to run their businesses for them. With their status, getting even one shop somewhere and stocking it with perfume or shoes or clothes and telling the public about it via the social networks will definitely ensure a good source of income for them. Jay Z’s riches is not just from music, is it?

We have had a number of popular persons who have made so much money in one point in time but have been so broke that some have died pitiful shameful deaths with less than a dollar in their name at the time of death. There are others who have had to sell off their possessions and have come out, rather courageously to tell the public that indeed they are broke. With all these forerunners of riches to rags performers, the younger ones now should take cue and realize that the truth is –entertainment alone in Ghana can ruin you. Mind you, there is the pressure of the public expecting you to appear in good clothes, cars and what have you. Meanwhile, this same public is not paying you your due.

People, come on. . . this truth is common sense. You will go broke if you should depend on arts alone in Ghana. It will kill you. When you are able to make some money from your one moment hit singles, save, invest, and make more money.

Unfortunately for you, your trade has barriers. As you age, you will be called upon less and less for performances. You need to plan for your future. Above all, the public will never forgive you if you mess up.

Reason folks. Knowledge is easy to acquire now. Do not be fooled by the plenty coins you are making today. They can wither!

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