Promoters’ fee concern

Party promoters fear that the increase in events this summer will mean they will be paying more to Copyright Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Incorporated (COSCAP) because of a recent fee increase to that organisation.

However, the collective management organisation defended its position, while indicating that the increase wouldn’t affect all events.

President of the Entertainment Association of Barbados (EAB), Rudy Maloney, recently shared some of the promoters’ concerns.

“There are a lot more events this year in comparison to last year. However, there are a number of things that must be looked at in the industry at this time.

“One of the things we have to look at from a business side is whether we have enough service providers to service all of these events.

“And some of the concerns that have been raised by event producers are the cost of airline tickets and the price that they are paying to COSCAP,” Maloney said.

He told a Nation team that even before the increase this year, they were seeking more clarity on the funds they were required to pay.

Chief executive officer at COSCAP, Dr Erica Smith, confirmed that there was a price hike introduced a few months ago, in response to rising operational costs.

“COSCAP, although a not-for-profit company, is still a business which must sustain its operations and to the extent possible, grow. In terms of price increases, COSCAP has, as with any other business, to cope with the increasing cost to operate [and] the decision was made to increase tariffs by five per cent starting April 1,” Smith said.

“In this regard, communication was sent to clients well in advance. There was therefore ample opportunity to reach out to COSCAP about the communication. Only a few persons contacted COSCAP with queries.

“However, the increase was not across the board so there was no change in the tariff for events which are licensed based on a percentage of gate receipts, such as live concerts,” she added.

She cited two studies from 2012 and again in 2020 which found that the tariffs charged in the region, including in Barbados, were generally low and despite this, and COSCAP’s offer to negotiate, promoters don’t always hold up their end of the arrangements.

While pointing out how the costs are allocated, she gave an example of how they were affected during COVID-19.

Smith explained COSCAP charged promoters a deposit in advance of the event based on a calculation done on the information provided by the promoter, recognising they would not know in advance exact audience sizes. She said after the event, promoters should submit a reconciliation.

“Most often the promoters do not return until their next event and so COSCAP faces a long period of receivables and what happened during the COVID-19 pandemic was that COSCAP then had to write off a significant amount of receivables,” she said.

In some instances, where promoters have multiple events annually, she said they have met with COSCAP and negotiated multi-year licence agreements with various groups but “there has never been any direct communication with any association representing promoters”, she said.

COSCAP represents more than 2 500 rights holders in Barbados and more than 50 sister organisations internationally and all genres of music. It manages the rights of songwriters, music publishers, performers and producers of sound recordings, whether these rights are those of local members or international affiliates.

While the issue presented was about promoters, Smith noted that generally music users appeared not to fully appreciate the rights of the copyright owners.

“Unfortunately, after more than 20 years, COSCAP continues to face resistance from music users who seem not to appreciate the fact that copyright is a property right and as such the owners of copyright have the right to benefit from the use of their rights by others. Even when there is a claim that the rights of copyright holders are respected, there is the further issue of the value assigned to these rights,” she added.

Some of the events will be held amidst the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup, but the last lap of the Crop Over Festival is still packed.

On the August 2 to 4 weekend, at least 30 events including national events such as the Pic-O-De-Crop finals, Foreday Morning, private-sector-organised jouvert fetes, breakfast parties and other events are scheduled to be held.

Although the increase was promising, Maloney said the industry would have to take stock of the cost and available resources.

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