SHOULD THE GHANAIAN ARTISTE HAVE A SECOND JOB?

By Nana Quesy
By Nana Quesy

5/26/2012 1:11:09 AM -

We at flex newspaper are very much concerned about the apparent disrespect shown by many in our culture to those who pursue artistic endeavours (especially from our politicians). One recent survey showed a surprising number of Ghanaians who believe that artists should have a second job to support themselves – as they should not expect to be paid for their art! We must educate the public and eradicate these extremely destructive beliefs.

At a point we agree because the mess has already being created and our musicians and industrial players especially in the music fraternity are not making any effort to get rid of the mess created. Today in Ghana we still have some of our musicians playing shows for free, others being paid small amount of money all because they themselves have not created any artistic and business missions for their career and some of the events companies seem to be doing them favour instead of professional business with the musician. We have some Nigerian and South African artistes coming in to take huge sum of money for shows, making low budgets for our locally based artistes. And then because they also don't have business missions, they jump at the “monte-callo chicken money” forgetting the risk they are making in their career as musicians. By the way how much did they pay Kapo Snoop and that South African Artiste who didn't know what to do on our just ended Vodafone Ghana Music Awards stage?Anyway....

As the creators of intellectual property, it should be within a copyright holder's rights to dictate exactly where and how their creation is used. Should they decide to sell, it is not our place (or yours) to tell them otherwise. Though honestly, we may question their sanity and try to gently suggest an alternate price and convince them that they're losing sales opportunities by keeping their content off or limiting it. But that being said, what they say goes. But in contrast to this black & white opinion regarding the protections afforded a copyright holder as it relates to the sale, use, and distribution of their work, live music seems like a somewhat different beast. Anyway do our musicians know they have these rights at all?

I certainly agree that good art should be rewarded. But in a society where EVERYONE can easily create art (Azonto), should everyone be paid for it? Is there enough money to go around? Should the riches be reserved for the true masters? Who determines who those masters are?

Maybe if we all, performers and listeners, conceived of art as a profession (one that requires the development of skills, a deep knowledge of history, a certain level of competency, and a bit of that magic factor: creativity, innovation, inspiration, exploration) instead of a worthwhile self-obsession, we'd live in that perfect world and our musicians wouldn't be worrying their heads trying to get or the public asking them to get second or have to work a second job, because we will have them making millions of cedis from their music business. But just because it is a profession doesn't mean you necessarily should be earning money right out of the gates. Perhaps music-making should require a certain kind of apprenticeship (what used to be called “paying your dues”) before artists can assume a posture of financial entitlement.

Running full-speed through the gauntlet of a music scene can be exhausting. This crucible of apprenticeship might (might!) weed out the slackers, the unworthy, the untalented, and the ones who are in it for all the wrong reasons. All the while, the decent musician who perseveres will keep getting BETTER, rising to that level of appeal and skill where they should get paid. This will certainly make life better for our musicians, making them get the needed “respect” they need from the public and event's organisers. If we have them go through these measures, do you think there will be a need for a second job? Music is a very big business, very very big, it high time we see it as such.