Accra, Dec. 9, GNA - Artspage International, an online portal for the wholesale of music to international internet magnates in collaboration with Afrofile, its subsidiary in West Africa based in Ghana, is in talks with Nokia Africa to supply 100,000 third generation cell phones with Ghanaian music as ring tones.
When the deal is finalised, Nokia Africa would provide an initial amount of 500,000 dollars for the promotion of Ghanaian music through concerts, training programmes for musicians among other promotional activities.
Mr Francis Mensah Twum, Director of Afrofile, told the Ghana News Agency that additionally, Afrofile would start negotiations with local cell phone service providers to also put Ghanaian music onto their networks for their customers to download with prepaid cards and use as ring tones.
He said the move was part of a package designed to wholesale Ghanaian music on the Afrofile online portal for Internet Service Providers, phone service providers, media houses and entertainment centres to ensure that Ghanaian musicians received their deserved royalties for the use of their works.
"Afrofile and its mother portal, Artpage, are automatically linked to 200 international networks including yahoo, hotmail, Microsoft, I-tunes of Apple McIntosh and other reliable, legitimate and world acclaimed online music distributors."
Mr Twum, also the General Secretary of Ghana Association of Phonographic Industries (GAPI), noted that Artspage already operated in Europe, United States, China and South Africa, saying that Afrofile was intended to specifically serve the West African market, with Ghana as the hub.
Explaining how Afrofile worked, he said individual musicians and their publishers, where necessary, would have to enter their works directly by providing enough data regarding the ownership of the work they wanted to enter to prevent any litigation.
He said once works were loaded unto it, the Afrofile page had a number of in-built software to monitor and automatically record the number of prepaid downloads per minute with credit cards only and also the number of airplays by media houses and entertainment centres for the purposes of royalties payment.
Mr Twum said the individual musician would also be given a special secret code to monitor the sales of his or her works on the page in order to keep track of how much money was accrued to him or her. He said currently each single download would cost between 65 cents to 68 cents per minute, adding that for each download Afrofile would keep 30 per cent of the money and the copyright owner or owners of the work would be given the 70 per cent.
Mr Twum noted that Afrofile would from its initial stages of operation target the Chinese market for African music, saying that the project would begin with highlife music because it was more creative and uniquely Ghanaian, unlike hip-life and gospel music, which had some foreign features.
"But we will later on bring hip-life, gospel and other forms of Ghanaian music onboard," he said.
He said the Afrofile portal was still under construction and when it is completed, it would be officially introduced to Ghanaian musicians with a major concert next February.
Desks would be opened at various points across the country for musicians to register their works on Afrofile.
Artspage is a Norwegian-based online music wholesale portal jointly owned by Norwegian state-owned and private television stations, European Network of Independent Record Labels, South African Music Organisations, Mr Dagfinn Bach, CEO of Artspage and Mr Ray Phiri, a renowned South African Musician.
Mr Bernard Bosompra, Copyright Administrator, confirmed to the GNA that his office was aware of the existence of Afrofile and the services it proposed to offer, but pointed out that there was a need to iron out the modalities well to ensure mutual benefit to the service provider and the copyright owners.
He noted that the computer world was a virtual one, which looked all good on face value but could pose lots of challenges, especially in this case where most copyright owners and musicians in Ghana were not computer literate.
"In due time I would sit with the Afrofile people to talk and ensure that their dealings with copyright owners was within the provisions of the law."
Mr Bosompra said with regard to the Nokia deal, Artspage and Afrofile alone could not negotiate such a deal without the consent and direct involvement of the legal representatives of copyright owners, which was the Copyright Society of Ghana (COSGA).