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Aug 15, 2017

Artists rally as Shyne renews challenge to BSCAP

There are more details available tonight on the state of finances of the Belizean Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Last week, Shyne Barrow resigned abruptly when it became known that his predecessor Heather Cunningham and current Chair of BSCAP, was charging more than half a million dollars in fees for 2010 to 2013, even as artists were collecting a pittance of twelve dollars.  A copy of the financials showed that the money claimed was for salaries, satellite office and travel. Today, Shyne surrounded by artists, told the media that he does not know who approved expenditures. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Protecting the musical copyrights of its membership by keeping a keen eye on public performances of their works, through broadcast or live performance, is the primary charter of the Belizean Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.  Established in 2004, BSCAP has been in existence for well over a decade, regrettably with very little to show for the financial security of its participants.  Famed dancehall/reggae artist Tanya Carter has been a member of the nonprofit performance rights organization for several years.

 

Tanya Carter, Belizean Artist

Tanya Carter

“I’m one of the members of BSCAP and I’ve been a member for quite some time and to be honest with you, about maybe five or six years ago we received a check for twenty dollars and I didn’t cash it because I think it was a pittance and I left it right there.  From since then, with that CEO and the team that they had, there was no work being done.  BSCAP was not “cool”, if I could say that, right.”

 

Perhaps the reason for its apparent lack of popularity among the many talents it sought to represent is the fact that the wellbeing of its membership may not have been BSCAP’s first priority.  The organization existed for years without collecting licensing fees from users of music created by BSCAP affiliates, nor did it distribute them back to its members in the form of royalties.  That’s because copyright compliance did not come into effect until after acclaimed hip hop artist turnedBelize’s Music Ambassador, Shyne, took the helm of BSCAP as its chief executive officer in 2016.

 

Shyne Barrow

Shyne Barrow, Former CEO, BSCAP

“My mindset was to use BSCAP as I’ve used the Office of the Music Ambassador to empower the artist, to assist the artist, to help the artist.  So certainly I wouldn’t burden BSCAP as an organization with any hefty salary or any hefty expenses or anything that would prevent the artist from getting maximum payout, especially knowing that it’s an uphill battle to get people to be copyright compliant.  We don’t know when monies of any significance would come in and certainly I don’t want to be the hurdle to artists setting maximum payout.”

 

But after a year in the driver’s seat, Shyne has chosen to step down from the post, amid controversy within BSCAP at the board level.  During his brief tenure, all efforts were made to move towards copyright compliance, an initiative which would ensure that Belizean artists are duly compensated for the use of their work.

 

Shyne Barrow

“I put my credibility on the line.  For the work that I have done with the Office of the Music Ambassador, I believe I have earned the respect of the nation, certainly of the music community and I use that capital to go and try to work on behalf of the artist, the members, not the CEO past, not the board, not BSCAP as an organization.”

 

To gain some insight into the wrangling of BSCAP, we have been furnished with its financial statements.  These records show that former CEO Heather Cunningham, who presided over the operation of the organization for three years, was authorized to collect a five-digit salary starting at fifty thousand dollars per annum, with ten thousand dollars added to that sum on a yearly basis.

 

Shyne Barrow

“Cunningham became CEO in 2010.  I don’t know who approved that she would get fifty thousand in 2010, sixty thousand in 2011 and seventy thousand in 2012 and eighty thousand in 2013.  I don’t know who approved her expenses of eighty-two thousand dollars in 2010 because an AGM is supposed to take place every year to avoid this type of financial irresponsibility and mismanagement.  I don’t know who approved the one hundred and fifteen thousand dollars in 2011, the eighty-five thousand dollars in 2012, the hundred and five thousand dollars in 2013.  I don’t know.  For 2016, I spent ten thousand dollars, the most.”

 

That’s a significant decrease in operational expenditure, notwithstanding the struggle to achieve copyright compliance.  During that time there was also a campaign to salvage the image of BSCAP by growing its membership.  Popular Belizean performer TR Shine was being courted to join the association.

 

TR Shine, Belizean Artist

TR Shine

“Shyne actually asked me about a couple months ago to be an ambassador member of BSCAP.  I was with it but then now with all these discrepancies coming up, I could say that safely, I’m not going to be a part of it anytime soon until they straighten up what it is to be straightened up.”

 

For rising Bruk Dong artist Cocono Bwai that means BSCAP getting its finances in order.

 

Cocono Bwai

Cocono Bwai, Belizean Artist

“I feel that doing a cultural music aside from any next music, same way too yoh need fi get paid.  I mean, me as di artist, when we work, we di work, we noh di pay social, so dis wahn be something weh yoh know down di road we could seh bwai all ah di work weh we put een wi could lay back and seh well dis da weh ah di geh paid fu mi music.”

 

Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.

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