Dexter Mitchell: “We have to get it right”

Local promoter, Dexter Mitchell has warned of possible legal action against an organisation responsible for collecting and paying royalty due to artistes for their work. In a letter dated April 18, 2016, Mitchell warned the General Manager of ECCO, Steve Etienne that his outfit might be forced to seek legal redress if ECCO fails to hand over payments due to local artistes for their work.

Dexter Mitchell -seems serious about taking court action

Dexter Mitchell -seems serious about taking court action

“Artistes are anxious to collect what is due to them”, he said in the letter.

“Payments to Artistes remain a grave concern and even though ECCO collected EC$62,000 in 2014 and EC$49,000 in 2015, to date no Grenadian Artistes has received any payments from ECCO”, Mitchell stated in the letter.

THE NEW TODAY understands that a number of promoters said they handed over thousands of dollars to ECCO in the past two years in the form of royalty.

However, several calypsonians and other music producers have alleged that they have never been paid by ECCO.

Following is the full text of Mitchell’s letter:

General Manager

Dear Mr. Etienne,

On September 23rd, 2015 I wrote an email to your Licensing Agent here in Grenada, Linda Straker. That email prompted a response from ECCO in the form of a meeting to address concerns of the music fraternity here in Grenada and the operations of ECCO. You attended and essentially chaired that meeting.

I was able to get a wide cross-section of industry personnel to attend the meeting. Several promises were made at the meeting, including payments to ECCO members here in Grenada and the attempt to get local radio stations to pay for the use of music.

As a follow to that meeting and the continued concerns of ECCO’s operations, I wrote to the Grenada Director of ECCO here in Grenada, Wayne Green, on March 06th, 2016. That letter prompted another visit by you to Grenada. This time ECCO announced the signing of two radio stations. The press release about that signing stated that two radio stations had obtained ‘copyright clearance’.

Upon further inquiries one was able to determine that the clearance referred to in the release meant that the two stations would not have to pay for the use of music for 12 months.

Interestingly, one of the stations is now carrying an ECCO-produced weekly program, at no cost to ECCO.

During your visit, ECCO arranged a ‘closed-door’ meeting with the local membership. Of the 37 local Artistes signed to ECCO less than ten attended the meeting.

Payments to Artistes remain a grave concern and even though ECCO collected EC$62,000 in 2014 and EC$49,000 in 2015, to date no Grenadian Artistes have received any payments from ECCO.

Let me reiterate the concerns, previously mentioned to your Director and Licensing Agent.

(i) Lack of Accountability

(ii) Lack of PR

(iii)Lack of Membership

(iv) The unprofessional approach by the representatives of ECCO

Interestingly, while your visit might have been made to counter, what you deemed one or two persons who don’t want to pay , the visit provided even more evidence of what is wrong with the operations of ECCO here in Grenada.

Mr. Etienne, it is not one or two persons looking to make mischief. The entire future of what could be a very lucrative and dynamic industry is at stake here. Grenada gave the world the phenomenon that is Soca Riddims and we also gave the world Jab Music. Our creativity is undisputed, what has plagued us is the principles of business that are needed to propel that creativity.

The emergence of ECCO was a breath of fresh air to the local industry. However, the industry is now deflated because of the consistent list of concerns expressed about ECCO’s operations.

As promised in the letter to Mr. Green we will be seeking legal redress against ECCO if there is no improvement. That deadline is quickly approaching and to date we have seen nothing indicative of improvements.

Let me reiterate, Mr. Etienne, no one is against paying for the use of music, Artistes are anxious to collect what is due to them, what remains of concern is the operations of ECCO and its Agents.
There has to be more to Artistes not getting paid, than just a simple, ‘Artistes are not filling out their forms correctly’.

I remain hopeful that the issues are correctly addressed and those, to whom the benefits are due, can receive those benefits. We have to get it right even if it means the replacement of ECCO by another Collection Agency.

Dexter Mitchell

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