Buy Ghanaian music? Does this even sound right in this age where music is ubiquitous and easy to access? This era of free music downloads and streaming on the internet?
We need to purchase Ghanaian music to stop sabotaging our musicians
Buying music today might sound crazy but what are the economic benefits? Join me as I take you through the journey of music sales and the need for every Ghanaian to start buying music.
Well, for well-informed arts people who feel that there is grave labour producing content for consumption, and who understand the intricacies of copyright laws, purchasing is sacred.
But, to hip millennial who enjoys free downloads on the internet, it’s absolutely rubbish.
Research has shown that sales of legitimate cassettes and compact discs (CDs) have declined due to the internet piracy.
A 2004 study on ‘the effect of internet piracy on CD sales’ by Economists, Martin Peitz and Patrick Waelbroeck suggested that sales of CDs, which benefits musicians, saw a major decline between 2000 and 2001 due to internet piracy.
In 2001 alone, there was 10% decline in CD sales worldwide, causing a huge loss to the music industry.
How did it start?
Many musicians around the globe have made huge incomes from the sales of cassettes and CD. In the early 1980s, when cassette patronage was declining, CDs made a timely emergence on the market of music media.
Swedish Pop group ABBA and American singer-songwriter Billy Joel were the first musicians who made money from CD sales after releasing “The Visitors” and “52nd Street” albums respectively.
Let’s bring it down to Ghana. Highlife, Hiplife and Afrobeats musicians in the early 90s enjoyed massive sales boosts when CDs were introduced in the country.
I quite remember when my parents and older brothers used to rush to distribution vans to purchase CDs. CDs from Lumba Brothers (Daddy Lumba and Nana Acheampong), Daasebre Gyamenah, Paa Solo, A.A.A (Akwasi Ampofo Agyei), K.K Kabobo, Amakye Dede, Obuoba J.A. Adofo, Dr Paa Bobo, and other superstars in the 1990s would not pass by without finding their way into sound systems in my household.
Even though cassettes were still selling in the late 1990s and early 2000s, CDs had its way through, putting smiles on musicians’ faces. CDs gave musicians direct cash and value for their midnight toils. Plus, it in the long run also contributed to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
But around 2004-2006, the music business model changed. The music purchasing business switched from distribution vans to online and offline piracy.
More online music blogs that make music available to its subscribers and daily/monthly visitors emerged. Hubs and portals for music piracy grew in numbers, set up by internet savvy, music-loving young Ghanaians who saw it as a niche to explore and exploit in outwitting unemployment.
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Artistes felt the impact in their pockets and bank accounts. Many veteran musicians, who could have made money from direct sales, legal online stores like iTunes and Spotify and other royalty sources, have rather suffered the consequences.
Amina Ibrahim, the wife of late Highlife musician Daasebre Gyamenah, had to beg Ghanaians for financial support to help the musician’s family.
Before the death of Highlife legend Jewel Ackah, he had to rely on former President John Dramani Mahama and a few industry people for financial support. Hiplife star Omanhene Pozo died of a brain tumour because he couldn’t afford a surgery.
These are just a few instances.
There are a bunch of one-time hitmakers who find it very difficult to afford a square meal.
This is happening because free music downloads have taken over from the tradition of music purchasing.
A lot of Ghanaian musicians, including Volta Regime Music Group owner Edem and Zylofon Music/Burniton Music Group artiste Stonebwoy have felt the sting of the download culture.
In 2017, Stonebwoy complained bitterly about some Ghanaian music blogs unlawfully putting musicians’ hard work up for free downloads and making double profits from the venture, which inflicts heavy losses on the artiste.
Stonebwoy admitted that some of though some of the musicians might not be able to take court action, due to how unusual the practice is for such circumstances, they would find other alternatives to teach the culprits lessons.
The way forward
In order to avoid the above crises, we as Ghanaians need to change our mindsets. Our attitudes too.
It’s time we say no to music piracy and subscribe to legal online music stores. We have to subject our music acquisition habits to high standards without compromise.
Some people may argue that people without access to the internet may not be able to purchase Ghanaian music online. The truth is, music distribution vans still exist. CDs are still being sold at concerts and album launches.
If we are ready to support the industry by avoiding piracy, there are so many ways we can have access to the works of the artistes we claim to love.
We can eliminate the excuses if we really, truly care.
In 2013, a piece of research by the Musicians’ Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) showed that the music industry contributes to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Ghana
The research, led by the union’s president, Bice “Obour” Osei Kuffour conducted an extensive and in-depth probe into the music industry's financial strength as well as its relevance to the nation’s wealth.
According to Obour, Ghana music alone contributes less than 1% (representing 190 million per annum) to Ghana’s GDP.
In an interview in 2016, he stated: “With scientific proof, we know music contributes less than 1% to Ghana’s economy but if you put a figure to it it’s about 190 million per year. This is proven by the quantitative study. This is not Obour just saying something, there’s proof to show.
“So now if we are talking to the government, you can state that music employs about 40,000 people. About 20% of these people practice music part-time and 80% do this full time. This is a foundation for development. So if a musician says nothing is being done it’s probably because that musician doesn’t understand what it takes to develop. I think we should all add up and educate our musicians.”
Even though the figures may look disappointing, it’s imperative to know and understand that the more purchases of our music we make, the greater the industry’s propensity to contribute to Ghana’s wealth and development.
Want to see our musicians grow? We must be ready to put our monies where our mouths are. Let’s get to work and do the right thing.
Something has to give.
This is just one of the many steps every Ghanaian can take to make Ghana a better place. Know some more? Email us at
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