By ISAAC LIRI
IN countries like Australia, USA and UK, music artistes have millions in their bank accounts, cruise in flashy cars and sleep in mansions.
Young kids growing up in the western world are able to have successful careers in music thanks to the systems available for them.
In Papua New Guinea it’s a different story; musicians do not have the same opportunities like those in the west.
Many veteran musicians in the country that have recorded and produced music over the years are well aware of these issues and they want to see change. They want to see better rewards for music artistes.
One of these PNG veteran musicians is Hitsy Golu who I caught up with in September this year while covering a music workshop hosted by the Central Music Association (CMA) in Konedobu (Port Moresby).
Hitsy spoke promisingly of CMA and believes that the association can create a foundation for a national music organisation in the future, and the organisation he visualises is recognised and supported by the Government.
According to CMA interim president Allan Kedea aka AK47, the music association was formed in 2019 and got registered with the Investment Promotion Authority (IPA) last year (2020).
The association is spearheaded by many prominent musicians from Central, including Azzimbah front man Martin Rawali who is CMA vice president.
Speaking on local radio, AK47 said CMA was created to develop the music industry at the provincial level, with hope that other provinces would follow, leading to a vision of creating a national music association in the future.
When he (AK47) returned to PNG from Australia in 2019, he attended a meeting with many other big name PNG musicians, and during that meeting, one main concern was the absence of a formal music body in the country.
In the recent months, CMA has been travelling the length and breadth of Central creating awareness of what the association was all about and at the same time, gathering thoughts from various music artistes both young and old.
Some of the awareness topics discussed during these CMA sessions included royalties, copyright and information technology.
CMA has also been getting support from a lawyer, Oala Moi who was described by AK47 as a person who has been very vocal on issues of copyright.
Interestingly, CMA also got the attention of the Government through the Office of Censorship and the Department of Information Communication and Technology who had officials attending a recent CMA workshop.
Representatives from these bodies were also given the opportunity to speak, and when they did, they commended CMA for its work, and also pledged their support.
In these CMA sessions, music artistes were also urged to work collectively with a recognised body like CMA to develop a structure or system that can take care of them.
AK47 believes that if all music artistes are ‘on the same page’ and work under a recognised body, the outcome would be promising with a better industry.
He used Australia as an example where they have (APRA) Australasian Protected Rights Association, which is understood to be a body that looks after royalties for artists in Australia.
Interestingly, AK47 also mentioned that he put his personal music career on hold to concentrate on driving CMA forward as an agent of change in the music industry.
The vision seems to be something that can be achieved in the long term and CMA is doing it for the future generations to harvest the rewards.
So maybe in 50 years’ time, we will see music artistes in PNG living in mansions, cruising in flashy cars and having millions in their bank accounts.
- Isaac Liri is a freelance writer.