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Caymanian Musicians to Receive Royalties for Local Airplay

Local News 04 Nov, 2022 Follow News

(L-) Jean-eric Smith (Mr. Notch) and Stuart Wilson bring music royalties to the Cayman Islands.

Musicians in the Cayman Islands will now be paid for their recordings being played on at least one radio station.

The development comes after years of research and work by two local musicians to understand why they were receiving royalties from other jurisdictions around the world where their music was being played except from the Cayman Islands.

Stuart Wilson and Jean-eric Smith, aka ‘Mr. Notch’, began questioning their Performing Rights Societies in an attempt to track where the royalties were ending up and eventually learnt that the only radio station in the Cayman Islands paying the blanket license for the use of copyrighted works was Radio Cayman.

Radio stations, hoteliers and any other business using recorded music should pay a blanket license, as is internationally customary to PRS based on usage, square footage, listenership and several other indicators, which is then pro-rated based on usage and paid to those whose works are being used.

PRS is an international Collection Society based in the United Kingdom with responsibility for the Cayman Islands.

However, instead of the monies being paid for the blanket license making it back to artists, writers and copyright holders locally, the funds were being paid out analogously by the Performing Rights Society (PRS) in England PRS.

This was due to there being no logging of the music being played being submitted by Radio Cayman to PRS, according to its representatives.

After speaking with top level executives at the PRS and putting them in touch with the Director of Radio Cayman, Ms Norma Connolly, this has now been remedied and the recordings of local copyright holders who are registered with PRS or any other Collection Society will be paid for their works that play on the air, provided that they own the rights to the work and are entitled to publishing payments.

Local IP laws fall short in this regard and are not crafted so that local creators can exploit their works, according to Mr. Wilson and Mr. Smith, who call on the Cayman Islands Government to address this oversight.

Currently there is no collection society in the Cayman Islands but PRS has a registered office in Grand Cayman, which they say is not being staffed because the cost of doing so is more than they would ultimately collect from the jurisdiction by way of the blanket licensing fee.

If artists in the Cayman Islands are with other societies such as BMI or ASCAP, it makes no difference, as there are reciprocal agreements in place between the societies and the money would ultimately still make it to those rights holders.

During the research done by Mr. Wilson and Mr. Smith, the men realised that a sizable royalty fee of 6 percent for each local broadcaster was being paid quarterly to Ofreg; the Island’s regulator of broadcasters,

However, of this 6 percent royalty none is making its way back to Caymanian publishers, writers and owners of works being exploited on local Radio or in any other format and was instead likely going into the governments general revenue.

Ofreg has said that the charge, which is referred to as a ‘royalty’ is for the use of their electromagnetic spectrum.

After retaining the services of attorneys of two well known, local Law Firms, they were advised that the money collected by Ofreg in this regard was in the past 6 years in the region of $50 million dollars. (See Caymanian Times, 03 August Edition at - https://www.caymaniantimes.ky/news/caymanian-musicians-get-stipend-royalties-still-important) where Wilson and Smith first mentioned their efforts publicly.

No portion of that amount is being paid toward a blanket license to any Collection Society around the world to pay publishers, writers and owners of works.

“That amount is not precisely representative of what publishers, writers and owners of works should be paid. However, Ofreg should know that the blanket license ought be paid because Radio Cayman is paying it and they are not making it mandatory for others stations in the Cayman Islands who exploit music. In fact, in our discussion with many radio stations, they are reluctant to pay the blanket licensing fee to the Collection Societies because they are paying that 6 per cent fee to Ofreg,” noted Mr. Wilson

He and Mr. Smith say they feel the fact that no local musicians were being paid for the use of their work on radio before the work they started, leading to Radio Cayman now paying is an indictment on the system and that they have since enlisted the services of another firm in London to look further into whether there are damages in tort that can be recovered from Ofreg, Collection Societies and Radio stations in the Cayman Islands.

“It is import for the future of music in these Islands that musicians are paid for their work when it is used in a public forum,” noted Mr. Smith, a past President of the Cayman Music and Entertainment Association.

Additionally, the men are continuing to meet with the Radio stations in the Cayman Islands in an attempt to continue to try to convince them to follow Radio Cayman’s precedent and do their part to pay the blanket license and also submit logs to PRS.

“The revenues generated from copyright are important to the artists and the art form,” added Mr. Smith.

Music and dancing venues in the Cayman Islands should be mandatorily licensed and pay a blanket license, according to international practices in the business of music, and once that happens, artists in the Cayman Islands will be able to submit their performances to their Performing Rights Society and be paid publishing for the performance of their original works, depending on the capacity of a particular venue.

Both Stuart Wilson and Jean-eric Smith are well known recording artists in the local music industry in the Cayman Islands, having had extensive performing careers both at home and abroad; playing some of the biggest shows and festivals, alongside major international recording artists.


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