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Party pooper

Spice & Co. band member concerned about COSCAP’s fees

A charge tonight that the Copyright Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (COSCAP), which was set up to promote and safeguard the interests of Barbadian artistes, is helping to destroy live entertainment on the island.

The charge is coming from well-known musician Dean Straker, guitarist and vocalist with popular 80s-90s group Spice & Company. He is calling on the intellectual property organization to review its fee structure related to the staging of live shows.

Speaking exclusively to Barbados TODAY, Straker said COSCAP currently charged promoters four per cent of gate receipts for live entertainment, and an additional four per cent if a deejay is on the show. In addition, promoters have to pay the Government’s 17.5 per cent VAT on ticket sales.

As a COSCAP member, Straker said he supported the organization’s goals and objectives. He added, however, that he could not support COSCAP impositions, which made it prohibitive for promoters and owners of entertainment establishments to hire live local entertainment.

“When it gets to the point where it is not going to be a benefit to the artiste, I think we seriously need to relook the whole fee structure for COSCAP if a promoter has to pay eight per cent –  four for recorded music and four for live entertainment –  to put on an event, plus the VAT,” he said.

The Spice & Co member contended that having to pay these fees was simply too much for any promoter “because you cannot count your gate receipts before they materialize, so you are alway taking risk.”

“It is one of the highest risk industries that there is. You have to hire your artistes, pay them a guaranteed amount unless you have a special arrangement with the artiste. You are paying all of the infrastructure, the lighting, the staging and the production,” he explained.

He added: “You are paying all the advertising and promotion. You are paying all of the additional things like security, clean up, fencing, washroom facilities etc. and then you are going to pay these fees to COSCAP and you are going to pay the VAT,”

Straker stressed that promoters were forking out as much as $20,000 in production fees alone, asking “what are you left with, after paying all of these fees?”

Straker argued that COSCAP’s fees when Barbadian artistes are performing at live shows should be subjected to a different fee structure than the one applied when foreign artistes are in the lineup.

While on this subject, he commended the Hilton Hotel for hiring local entertainers to perform at the Rhythm and Spice Hilton Beach Party scheduled to take place next Saturday.

“They are hiring all local artistes and, for doing that, there should be some incentive. They could easily have said ‘we are going to bring in international artistes and forget about the local artistes’. What’s to stop them or any promoter from doing that because the fee structure is the same?” he said.

On a historical note, Straker said live shows were once an integral aspect of Barbados’ entertainment industry, especially in the 80’s, but this was no longer the case.

“For many reasons, all of which I don’t know, our live entertainment has really taken a hit. Today, you can hardly go out a night in Barbados and find a live band performing to hundreds of people, which used to be the case in the 80’s, when people came here and commented on our vibrant night life,” Straker said, seriously questioning why this was no longer the case.

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