The West African nation of Ghana is gradually heading back to normal life after going through a period of partial lockdown and restrictions due to COVID-19.
Despite having recorded over eight thousand coronavirus cases, the president of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo announced lifting the restrictions on religious services for not more than 100 people, while opening schools for final year students to write their exams.
However, sporting activities are still banned alongside events with large gatherings such as political rallies and concerts; Beaches, Night clubs, and pubs are also closed likewise Ghana’s borders.
Basically, what the easing of restriction means is almost everyone can resume work once they adhere to the coronavirus guidelines but with performing at events and concerts being the main source of income for Ghanaian musicians, how are the continued restrictions on events with large crowds affecting them.
Ghanaian celebrities especially musicians have always been portrayed as rich due to their lifestyle and acts in music videos with fans sometimes engaging in petty squabbles debating over the net worth of celebrities.
Despite the glamour of being thought of as rich and famous, the truth is some Ghanaian celebrities are just famous but not rich; most are okay but the rest are broke due to factors such as failed investments, excessive spending, etc.
Most Ghanaian musicians make their revenue through performance platforms (i.e. Concerts, parties, etc. However, One needs to have a hit record or be in the trends to enjoy that privilege), music sales (which have dwindled), streams and benevolence of fans but only after the artists pump in large amounts of money into their craft. Like any investment it is either you profit or take a loss thus Artists bet their livelihood on hope.
Even against those odds Ghanaian musicians have entertained fans with new songs, organized virtual concerts, giveaways through-out the period of COVID-19 but the key question remains ‘how are they gaining back?’.
One of Ghana’s highest-earning talents Shatta Wale has been at the forefront in the fight for better terms of service for artists when it comes to performances but even he has moved to a ‘stream my song’ mentality after COVID-19 brought paid performances to its knees.
There has been an argument that the lockdown brought about an increase in online streams; yes, there has been an increase in the stream of music globally but not enough (locally) for us to negate the fact that stage performances still remain the biggest source of revenue in a country without a proper royalty collection system.
Though the Ghana Music Rights Organization (GHAMRO) is the sole royalty collection agency within Ghana, that represents the rights of music copyright holders, most musicians have complained about the paltry royalties they receive from their works.
Already Ghanaian musicians are split into 2 folds but seeking the same goal – a properly defined and working royalty structure. We have the Alliance for Change led by Reggie N Bollie and the online movement led by rapper Edem, termed by fans as ‘Hungry Nation’.
Now with Government justifiably taking food off the table of musicians by extending the ban on public gatherings of over 100 people, it will be in the right direction to pass the long-overdue creative art bill, which will give creatives more power over their works. The passing of the bill might rally musicians on to fight for the desired royalties collection system which will see musicians earn enough money even when they are not performing.
If structures are not put in place to find a proper method of musicians making money, most of them will literally go hungry and fans will be tasked to appeal for funds for their favorite stars in the future.
In conclusion, it is clearly evident the easing of restrictions isn’t anything a musician should be happy about as it doesn’t help them in any way. If anything, the streaming numbers are about to go down, as people’s work will now keep them company.
Story by Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafoh