Local musicians and artists told Business Daily that more promotion of copyright information by the Macau Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers (MACA) and cooperation on the issue, could help to improve the local music and arts industry and incentivise more industry participants.
During its general assembly meeting held on February 10, MACA announced that it had collected MOP200,000 (US$25,026) in royalties in 2015 from different affiliated societies, to be distributed to local members, with the association retaining 30 per cent of royalties for administration expenses.
The association currently represents 81 local members and six local publishers, and collects royalties from international associations in locations such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Japan. When questioned by Business Daily, the association said values for 2016 were “still being calculated” and would be presented next year, but that the total amount of royalties “was believed to have increased last year (2016)”.
The group also stated that last year, music performance license agreements had been reached with six entertainment groups, and that activities to raise public awareness of copyright issues in 2017 would be held.
In statements to Business Daily, Vincent Cheang, musician and owner of concert venue Live Music Association (LMA), said that royalties have improved as more companies gain better awareness of copyright issues, something that can “motivate” local artists to see music as a viable professional career and “not just a hobby”.
The total amount of royalties collected by MACA in years prior (2014 and before) was also requested, but no results had been provided when this newspaper went to print.
A balancing act
For singer and composer Josephine Ho Chiu-yi, also known as Josie Ho, it takes a lot of work for a “small association like MACA” to record and mark the total amount of royalties earned by songs played in specific shows, and more cooperation between the industry members is needed to improve this situation.
“It takes a lot of coordination, event organisers have to be very disciplined and submit the full set lists of songs in advance and report it afterwards. The record label afterwards has to submit their info. Our record label is very small, but we do try to record the song lists of all our performers and then submit them to MACA regularly. If we really want to make it a better scene, everyone has to play their part,” Ms. Ho told Business Daily.
The singer and actress believes that awareness of copyright issues is still something new in Macau “as residents and large companies have only realised the importance of respecting copyright” in the last two years.
“In Macau, it is really hard to be a full-time artist and composer. It doesn’t necessarily give you a good living, and – considering the popularity of Macau music – copyright is not a large sum, but it’s a part of it. So by creating more awareness about copyright, having more associations or companies willing to pay for it, it helps the income of all artists,” Ms. Ho told Business Daily.
The singer considers that although there’s been a trend for residents to listen to more local artists, instead of just “Hong Kong, South Korean and Taiwan” artists, the ready accessibility of music online is still a great “challenge”.
“Music can be downloaded online, it’s too accessible and people don’t realise that it has a price. Accessibility is needed and Macau composers need exposure, but we can’t sacrifice our chance to make our music valuable. The industry is still building up, and after building some exposure and fame you have some bargaining power, which is what we’re trying to do by promoting the Macau image and artists outside,” Ms. Ho told Business Daily.
Free for all
For Fortes Pakeong Sequeira, founder and lead vocalist of local rock band Blademark, it’s important for the local music industry to have someone to “curate and sell” the local artists’ material, but he believes that due to the size of the local scene, it is more important to “create the base and a strong platform first” by promoting local artists outside Macau and then focusing on copyright.
“I personally prefer someone copies my music or uses my songs, even if they don’t pay me anything, because it shows me someone likes my product. If someone is singing my song on another stage, I just don’t care, because I’m not a superstar,” Sequeira told Business Daily.