There’s real money in music if you treat it like a business, BSCAP says

Members of the Belize music industry have an untapped revenue stream, but in order for it to work for them local artists must think of themselves as a businesses, Heather Cunningham, the chief executive officer of the Belizean Society of Composers Authors Publishers (BSCAP) said Tuesday.

Cunningham explained that BSCAP is a Collective Management Organization (CMO) that collects license fees on behalf of music publishers, songwriters and composers. They collect the fees and distribute them as royalties to their members, whose music had been used or exploited in one way or the other.

BSCAP, she explained, looks for where the music has either already been “exploited;” is currently being used in establishments such as restaurants, hotels and radio stations; was featured in a film, for which the filmmaker would need a specific license; or if it has been or is being used online on sites such as YouTube, CDBaby, and more.

“We get any money that are potentially sitting unclaimed and distribute it to the artist,” Cunningham said.

BSCAP’s Chairman Jason Guerrero said that local artist Super G is a recent example of how CMO works, as the musician recently received royalty payments from the Mexican Television Station Univision that used his music in its popular TV show called Sabado Gigante.

Like with Super G, Guerrero said that other local artists may benefit in like manner and more; however, it requires their full cooperation with BSCAP.

“Musicians need to think of themselves as a business; and like with any business, they have to put in the work to structure themselves and document all their songs, written work and performances,” Cunningham said.

She underscored the fact that in order for BSCAP to be able to protect local artists’ interests, the artist must share the requisite information with them, including the name of their songs, where they performed it or where they heard it being played, and any other pertinent details.

Guerrero said that not only the bigger names are invited; BSCAP is also there to work for the not-so-well-known performers, composers and writers, as the youngest BSCAP member is 16 years old.

Cunningham reminded that BSCAP operates in collaboration with other CMOs such as the American Society of Composers, Artists and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), which gives them a more international reach. However, in keeping with the standard policies of the sister CMOs, artist have an average of three years in which they could claim monies for their music that had been used.

“If the artist don’t claim their money in three years, they’ll lose it,” Cunningham said, while reiterating the need for musicians to properly document and share the details of their work with BSCAP.

Using what he calls a “grassroots, door-to-door” campaign, Guerrero said that there are now eight local licensees—companies that have paid BSCAP for the use of music during the normal course of business.

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