Wednesday, February 22, 2006

This Guy Makes Some Fine Points (Thanks

This letter by a regular dude goes to show just how far hiplife (and the Ghanaiam music industry in general) has to go before people are happy.

[I found this article and lot of other timely, relatively accurate info from, by far the best website about Ghanaian music imaginable. The guys who run it are pretty chill too.]

Right now, no one seems to be happy. Not the musicians, not the producers, not the fans, not even the radio DJs (who are probably making the most money out of the whole movement).

MUSIGA, Ghana's musicians' union, and a few other musician/artist groups, have suffered from power struggles, in-fighting, and corruption, not to mention the lack of a solid plan on how to deal with hiplife. After all, a great many of the union's members are traditional, highlife, gospel, and reggae musicians. Few hiplifers are involved. But this is changing to some extent, as some of the bigger names' managers and producers are connected to the larger network of powers in the industry who makes sure things basically remain the same. There are some less-than-transparent processes involving royalties collection and distribution. Let's just leave it at that for now...

Maybe just one example, if you like.

Payola, which is money paid to DJs to spin your music, is commonly noted as being a central factor crippling the industry. The letter linked above basically gets to the point: there's something serious flawed with the system of how music gets heard in Ghana, and this ultimately affects the quality of the music. If people pay the DJ to play sub-par music, people will get used to the music and eventually create music like it in hopes of also being heard.

Some people in the industry were also complaining that the top stars have become lazy and complacent. They know they can put out a certain level of record and it will "hit," so they rarely attempt to take things further, musically or conceptually. They will usually get paid a pre-determined amount by their executive producer for the rights of the recording outright.

This is clearly happening in some cases. How else to explain the relatively shallow slope of improvement in production over the past years? They should have tons of money from the record CDs they claim to sell and big shows they play outside of Ghana. Hey, I thought all those big guys (Obour, VIP, Tic Tac) were loaded with cash?!

Not the case...More on that soon to come.

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