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    MUSIGA cannot hold music awards to ransom

    by Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
    posted Friday, 13 February 2009 19:16| 0 Comments
    As if by design, the annual Ghana Music Awards organized by Charterhouse is dogged by one controversy or the other since its inception 10 years ago. From the uproar that generated Daddy Lumba’s critically acclaimed ‘Aben wo ha’ that won the top prize at the 1999 GMA after being banned to the withdrawal of sultry songstress Mzbel from the 2008 awards – one can be overly confident and sure-footed that every edition of the Music Awards cannot pass without any controversy.

    Personally, I was not flustered when I heard that the Musicians Union of Ghana, MUSIGA, arguably the most recognized musicians association in Ghana and the Ghana Association of Phonographic Industry, GAPI sent strong indications of wanting to boycott the event - but I am indeed bewildered and yet to come to terms with the complaints of the two associations.

    From reliable sources, MUSIGA and GAPI are clamouring for some compensation, something they referred to as remuneration in their respective letters to Charterhouse. Remuneration or compensation for what?

    The reasons for MUSIGA and GAPI wanting to opt out of this year’s awards is nothing but laughable; one is that, they are stakeholders within the industry that ought to make an input in the awards show, they represent the musicians and must seek their welfare in all dealings and the most outrageous of all the reasons is that the awards have garnered enormous recognition worldwide so they must play a part.

    Stakeholders? MUSIGA was around way before Charterhouse registered their company. How come MUSIGA did not get the foresight to organize a glamorous event like the Ghana Music Awards? Why did they wait for some one with love for the industry and an impeccable business savvy to come along and make hay whiles the sun shone?
    In seeking the welfare of musicians, Charterhouse paid heed to all the admonitions and pressure and secured sponsorship that presented award winners with not only plaques but also with mouth-watering prize money. So if such a laudable gesture is being done, what do MUSIGA want again? Money for the executives, copyright benefits from the organization of the awards or shares in the event or what?
    Do the executives of MUSIGA and GAPI have any clue as to how the Ghana Music Awards attained such high-class standard? Do they have any shred of proof as to how the Awards attained worldwide recognition and prominence?

    Another claim by some executives of the associations is that Charterhouse are making money and getting gargantuan sponsorship for the event. Yes, there are sponsors for the events, but do they have any idea of how torrid it is to land sponsorship? Even if there are sponsors, have they thought to configure what pays for the organization of the awards, sometimes festivals? Have they thought of money to pay for the venues to host committee meetings and the award ceremony, the money to design the plagues, the money to pay for the coming of special guests, the money to lay the red carpets, the money to pay for live telecasts, the money to pay for the performing artistes and the winners? I don’t think so!

    Most importantly, MUSIGA is not an umbrella-body for all musicians but just one of many unions that seek the welfare of only its members, so if it claims it has stakes in the organization of the event, then other associations and unions should all ask for a chunk of the cake. It was incredulous to hear an executive of GAPI assert after last year’s awards show that, the organizers were able to give out money to winners so they (executive producers) also deserve cash prizes. How?

    And then there are the others who argue as to why a private firm like Charterhouse should use the name GHANA to brand their awards? This argument is a non-starter and trivial. Charterhouse is a registered company in Ghana and operates in Ghana and can use the name Ghana, the same way we have Musicians Union of Ghana, Professional Musicians Association of Ghana, Ghana Association of Phonographic Industry and what have you.

    Interestingly, the American Music Awards (AMA) that carries the name America and awards predominantly American artistes was initiated by entertainer Dick Clark and his Dick Clark Productions, a privately-owned company that also organizes the Golden Globes and Country Music Awards respectively.

    The British Industry Trust Awards, BRITS, the top music awards in Britain is organized by the British Phonographic Industry, one of the many unions of the British music industry but a more classical example comes from Nigeria. The Nigeria Music Awards, arguably the most prestigious awards organized in West Africa commenced in 1999 by the Perfoming Musicans Association of Nigeria, PNAM, under the stewardship of the then President Tony Okoroji and therefore all copyright due and rights to organizing the awards lie with PNAM, which means that other unions and associations in Nigeria like the Nigerian Union of Musicians and the Nigerian Union of Professional Musicians are free to initiate awards shows and call it whatever they want.

    So it is refreshing to hear that MUSIGA and GAPI are in talks of coming out with their own kind of awards tentatively dubbed, the Ghana Entertainment Awards. That is a good thing, afterall, we have the Grammys, the American Music Awards, the American Country Awards, all competing for attention. In due time, we would also boast of Ghana Music Awards, the revamped ACRAG Awards and a new Ghana Entertainment Awards.

    Instead of MUSIGA and cohorts making noise and trying to hold Charterhouse to ransom, they better start putting plans and a team together in order to acquire sponsorship to hold a glamorous event. Besides, without the succour of MUSIGA and GAPI, I cannot envisage the power behind the Music Awards dwindling.

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