ECCO: A Look Back at 2015

Without a doubt, 2015 has been a year of accomplishment for the Eastern Caribbean Collective Organization for Music Rights (ECCO) Inc, capping the year off with a 15% increase in membership and a 30% increase in licensing revenue (un-audited) compared to 2014.

The year was ushered in with an offering of two developmental opportunities to the general ECCO Membership; participation in the Calypso in Berlin Project, and free registration at the Caribbean Music Summit in Barbados.

Held in Berlin, Germany, from January 13th to 19th, the Calypso in Berlin project was a collaborative effort between the Copyright Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (COSCAP) in Barbados, ECCO and Lord Mouse and the Kalypso Katz–an international group of musicians based in Berlin. Calypso in Berlin was initiated to take advantage of the EU-Cariforum Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and Cultural Protocol to enter new markets and build collaborative ties. This initiative was aimed at introducing calypso and soca music into mainstream Germany, and by extension Europe, and promoting collaborations between Caribbean and German creators. The project provided Barbadian and OECS based songwriters–which included ECCO Members, Sherwinn Brice and Lennon Prospere– with an opportunity to network and form collaborative relationships with musicians in Germany; receive insight and information from Piranha Arts record label and GEMA, the collective management organization in Germany; perform and gain music exposure in Berlin.

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[Photo caption: ECCO Member Lennon Prospere rehearsing for the live show in Berlin]

The Calypso in Berlin project is expected to continue in 2016 with a calypso festival in Berlin and subsequent songwriting collaborations.

stever and ecco member jemmot anthony at music summitMeanwhile in early February, members of ECCO staff team, board of directors and member body were provided with free registration to attend the first ever Caribbean Music Summit in Barbados. The Caribbean music summit was an educational experience with panels of music industry experts from around the world offering insight into various avenues which artists and songwriters can pursue in order to move their careers further. It also provided the opportunity for individuals to network directly with music professionals in order to foster new relationships.

[Photo Caption {above}: ECCO General Manager Steve Etienne, with ECCO Member Jemmot Anthony from St Vincent, at the Caribbean Music Summit]
[Photo Caption {below}: ECCO Members Chrycee & The Mecca, from St Lucia with Barbadian songwriter and producer Young D Johnson]

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Another proud achievement for 2015 was the decision tomecca and I bring back the company’s weekly radio program “Musically Speaking,” with two new young, exciting and dynamic hosts, The Mecca & Chrycee. Through the new and revamped Musically Speaking program, ECCO has been able to reach a diverse and growing audience; to continuously empower members and the general public with information related to music rights and to highlight the accomplishments of members throughout the Eastern Caribbean.

Catch the Dynamic Duo, The Mecca & Chrycee when Musically Speaking returns in the new year on Saturday January 9, 2016 from 11:00am on RSL 97, http://www.rslonline.com.

In July 2015, ECCO in partnership with PRS for Music in the United Kingdom, and fellow Association of Caribbean Copyright Societies (ACCS) members (BSCAP in Belize, COSCAP in Barbados, COTT in Trinidad & Tobago and JACAP in Jamaica) signed a license agreement with iTunes for the Caribbean. Following a service agreement signed with PRS for Music, royalties from the iTunes agreement is expected to begin flowing from April 2016.

Kudos should definitely be extended to the management, staff and agents of ECCO for significant growth in general licensing throughout the EC territory. At present almost all leading hotels in St Lucia are currently licensed by ECCO save for two major non-compliant users, which the music rights society is currently addressing through the litigation process. Further, for the year ECCO boasts licensing successes such as the St Kitts Marriott, and the Four Seasons Hotel in St Kitts and Nevis; Sandals La Source in Grenada; Grand Pinapple, Curtain Bluff, Sandals. CTV – Cable Network, Vibz FM and Caribbean Radio Lighthouse in Antigua & Barbuda; Kairi FM, Fort Young Hotel, Digicel Stores, Digicel SAT, Courts, First Caribbean Bank and LIME Stores in Dominica and Unicomer SVG Ltd. (Courts), Splash Sports Bar, Club Heights and Mario’s Ranch in St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

Unfortunately, while the major music festivals and events across the OECS are licensed by ECCO, the company suffered an unexpected drop in revenue from music festivals over 2014 as a result of Tropical Storm Erika which reeked severe damage to the island of Dominica, resulting in the cancellation of one of the island’s biggest festivals, the Dominica World Creole Music Festival.

Yet ever conscious of the livelihoods and well-being of its members, ECCO reached out to colleagues in Dominica by making a donation of $5,000 towards the assistance of five ECCO members in Dominica who suffered loss as a result of the storm

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[Photo Caption: ECCO Chairman McCarthy Marie presents ECCO Members affected by Tropical Storm Erika with monetary donation on behalf of ECCO]

Lastly, ECCO brought the year to a close, with the hosting of Corporate Governance workshop for its directors, through its umbrella organization, ACCS. This Board Module and Training Program is a special initiative aimed at improving the governance, leadership and accountability of Collective Management Organizations (CMO)s in Caribbean economies. The rationale behind the development and hosting of this board training module steamed from the fact that as CMOs in the Caribbean grow and their membership and services expand, they are increasingly required to be accountable for their activities and to address long standing and emerging issues faced by stakeholders in the industry including knowledge of Intellectual Property Rights (IP), digitalization, piracy, business climates and practices unsupportive of copyright and related rights management, etc. As such, recognizing, an urgent need to strengthen IP knowledge and governance especially at the level of the Board in order to build capacity to carry out their duties effectively.

This training initiative was being conducted jointly between the Association of Caribbean Copyright Societies (ACCS) and the TAG of Excellence initiative of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) who jointly funded the project. The main beneficiaries of the Workshop were the CMOs and RROs (Reprographic Rights Organizations) within the Caribbean region, specifically those in small vulnerable economies such as Barbados, the OECS, Jamaica, and Trinidad & Tobago.

With a successful year drawing to an end, ECCO is geared up and ready to foster further growth, development and change for its members and the wider music community in 2016. A few of the planned changes and initiatives which members and the public can expect and look forward to in 2016, include:

  • The continuation of the Calypso in Berlin project with plans are being made for a Summer Festival to be held in Berlin, Germany, in partnership with COSCAP (Barbados) and Piranha Arts (Germany).
  • Moving to a regionally sourced web based Licensing system for agents and Head Office Staff in February 2016.
  • Closer working relationship with COSCAP with joint processes aimed at improving efficiency (reducing operating expenditure and increasing royalties to members).
  • Increased distributions – ECCO will be making 4 royalty payments in 2016
    o March 2016 – Jingles and Foreign Royalties
    o July 2016 – Broadcasting and General for performance period Jan-December 2015)
    o October 2016 – Carnival, Live and Foreign Royalties
    o December 2016 – Broadcasting & General for performance period Jan-June 2016)
  • The hosting of the 1st ever ECCO Music Awards in November 2016 in St Lucia
  • Training programs for Directors and Members.
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