ECCO MEMBER SPOTLIGHT – A#KEEM

ahkeem3What initially began as an intimate mode of communication—poetry, bars, lyrics and song to express to his love the way she made him fell—soon became his means of life. As A#keem allowed his passion to spill onto paper; his smooth expressive voice resonating in the air around him; more and more, the feeling that this was his destiny began to set in.

Yet the Grenadian born songwriter, artiste and performer says it wasn’t until his three-year stint in Trinidad and Tobago, from 2012 to 2015, to pursue his studies that he knew for sure that his calling was a musical one.

“During that period, being away from home and family, I spent a lot time observing, thinking and soul searching,” A#keem recalls. “It was then, after having learnt a great deal about recording and the music industry that I decided there was no other path for me, but the path to this musical mission.”

He describes his music as “Urban-Reggae,” and says what drives him musically is sharing messages which induce happiness, boosts self-esteem and encourages greater self-worth and individuality. A#Keem is determined to use his talent to affect permanent and positive change the world over. He’s easily inspired by his surroundings; adventures, people, sight, experiences and his observation serve as his musical muse.

Ambitious, resilient and adventurous, A#keem attributes his music success to hard-work and dedication. Sharing the stage with renowned artists like Ashanti, Sizzla, and Ja Rule, are a few of his most treasured memories and by his account, amazing accomplishments to date.

Life in music, seeking to establish a success career, has not come without its challenges for A#Keem.  As Eastern Caribbean-based artiste, A#Keem says rallying support from the general public is perhaps one of the greatest challenges.

“Eastern Caribbean music should be a lot further than it is today, and that can only be possible with the help of the people being proud, acclaiming and sharing their culture, and not just left to the artiste themselves,” he states. Wistfully he adds, “In the region and in my country I hope to see the music industry explode in becoming so great that it brings all the focus to us, to our culture, to our story, to our Caribbean, let the world see our true value.”

Finding a team of dedicated individuals who believe in the mission has been another noteworthy challenge for the Urban-Reggae artist. Yet A#Keem believes that with determination one can find a way around every challenge. He therefore seeks to continuously educate himself in all aspects of the music industry, while taking advantage of the internet and technology find opportunities to grow his career.

“Self-sufficiency is very useful and sometimes necessary in the journey to success,” he advises We certainly agree!

A#keem Tidbits:

ahkeem

ECCO: When you’re not doing music, what are you doing?

A#Keem: When I am not doing music I spend time searching for adventures, knowledge and inspiration so that I can better equip my music for the battle ahead.

ECCO: What are your other passions?

A#Keem: Besides music, I am also very passionate about the current state of the world, the lack of values and the drastic increase in focus on materialistic and cosmetic things, hence the reason why I fuse music with a positively influential message.

ECCO: What makes you laugh?

A#Keem: Almost anything, both good and bad makes me laugh. I’ll laugh at a funny movie, or at someone telling me I “can’t” make it in the music industry.

ECCO: Name one thing about yourself that most people won’t know

A#Keem: One thing about myself that most people won’t know is that I have accomplished 2 out of the 3 life goals I set for myself many years ago, namely;
1. To work as a bartender
2. To sing in with a live band

 

—Written by Christine “Chrycee” Charlemagne

HOW ECCO WORKS: THE FACTS

cropped-ecco-logo-sc.pngA society of writers & publishers, the Eastern Caribbean Collective Organization of Music Rights (ECCO) is a Collective Management Organization (CMO) responsible for the administration of performance rights and the licensing of public use of music. Through reciprocal agreements with CMOs throughout the World, ECCO represents and can license virtually the whole worldwide repertoire of copyright music for public performance, broadcast, cable transmission, online and mobile use.

Essentially, ECCO serves as an intermediary body between writers & publishers and music users, providing a one-stop avenue for music users to license their public use of a world-wide catalogue of music, and in turn a one-stop collection and distribution avenue for ECCO members (writers, composers and publishers) for royalties due to them from the public use of music emanating from a number of sources, worldwide.

Simply put; ECCO licenses users of Copyright Music and pays Writers and Publishers whose music was performed, in the form of royalties.  That is all ECCO exists to do. A role which according to the organization’s audited financial statements, ECCO is becoming better at; producing growth year after year which exceeds national averages.

Membership in ECCO is not a benefit membership whereby due are paid out to members yearly simply as a result of their membership. Rather, members are paid royalties based on performance logs and data from licensed broadcasters and events. Therefore, it should be clearly understood that no performances means no Royalties. Further, considering the role of ECCO, it should be noted that it is the responsibility of the individual songwriter and/or his publisher to seek out usage of his songs in as many ways as possible.10849765_847622648636923_8512688286548424058_n

In fact membership of ECCO is similar to that of a Credit Union, where although you are a member of the Credit Union, you do not get free money given to you. Rather you can only draw out what you put in.  Therefore, in the case of Songwriter members of ECCO, if your music is performed in a licensed venue or by a licensed Broadcaster you will get Royalties from ECCO.  If your works are not performed you will not be entitled to any Royalties.

ECCO will therefore not perform fraud by giving to members what they are not entitled to. In fact giving free money to any member means that the members of ECCO or its Affiliate Societies whose musical works are regularly performed are being disadvantaged. Further, this would serve as a breach of ECCO’s mandate resulting in penalty action from overseeing bodies and affiliate societies.

Despite ECCO’s success in collecting licensing revenue, the organization has seen a lower percentage of national performances across the ECCO territories. It is an undisputed fact, that currently only an average of between 5% and 10% of Music performed locally is written by ECCO members.  Therefore out of every $1M which ECCO distributes, an average of only $50,000 to $100,000 will be due to ECCOs 600 plus members, as their share of distributable revenue.

Considering this, ECCO General Manager, Steve Etienne believes it is essential that focus be placed on establishing other vital areas of the music industry within the Eastern Caribbean. “I have been advocating for years that what we should be concentrating on is building a Music Industry focused on Exports and to promote the Business of Music, other than wanting to tear down the only successful pillar of the nascent Music Industry,” Etienne offers.

He believes that it is important that others take a cue from ECCO and set up other components of the Music industry that can take its place alongside ECCO.  This, Etienne says, can be supported by ECCO, to do all the things which ECCO cannot do.

The formation and establishment of Musicians Associations, Promoters Associations, Artist and Writer development forums, Audio Visual productions entities, and the development of policies which can influence the creation and performance of more local content; are a few examples recommended by Etienne as necessary components need to boost growth of Eastern Caribbean music industry.

“ECCO should not be the only game in town,” Etienne says. “Other entities should use their areas of expertise to create critical mass and bring real benefits to all participants in the Music Industry. For example, in the case of St Lucia, were ECCO is headquartered, we are hopeful that the Government and people of St. Lucia will use the strategy document produced for the country by the European firm, SOUND DIPLOMACY, as a template for building a viable export oriented music industry. ECCO is ready and willing to play its part in this endeavor.”