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The State of Ghanaian Music Today // “Play More GH”

Vibrant, slightly cramped, with an air of danger and a gust of hope. The music industry in Ghana is struggling to support the musicians that comprise it- despite an immense wealth of talent. Apart from some commonly recognized names, such as Davido, Shatta Wale, MzVee, and Sarkodie- the sales of upcoming artists are practically zero. In 2007 in the UK, the entertainment industry contributed as much to the overall GDP as their finance sector. In the US, we have a similar case (contributing roughly $500 billion per year). In Nigeria in 2015, the physical music sales (CDs) alone contributed $61 million dollars to their GDP. As well, South Africa’s physical sales contributed $56 million. Looking at these figures alone, it is hard to believe that Ghana’s abundance of original music only contributes 0.20% to their overall GDP.

At my internship with MUSIGA, the musician’s union in Ghana, I am working on developing a campaign that helps increase Ghanaian music’s socio-economic impact in the heart of Accra. To accomplish this, I am playing a part in the “Play More GH” campaign as a video and documentary producer. The objectives of this campaign are to 1) get radio and television stations to play 70-80% Ghanaian music, as they are primarily playing music from outside of the country. This would directly benefit the musicians, as they would gain more circulation in the community, as well as increase the patriotism connected with Ghanaian music (and royalties would help the artists financially). Secondly, we intend to influence policy-makers to aid in accomplishing the first objective. In South Africa, the SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation) passed a policy where 90% local music is played and only 10% of music from the rest of the world is played. In enforcing this, the local music saw great advances. Similarly, in Kenya, the “National Music Policy” legislated 70% circulation of Kenyan music.

My first step in helping to accomplish these goals was to film six short PSA’s from upcoming local artists. In the process of filming this, I was told that I would have access to at least three lights and two reflectors. I was excited because this was more than enough lighting equipment to create a perfect shot. When I arrived to set up the day before, I set all these things in their right place for the shoot. I arrived to shoot the following day, only to notice that the photographer who owned the lighting equipment had moved everything out of the studio except for one harsh spotlight and one reflector. Why they hadn’t told me that he also had a shoot during this time slot, at another location- is beyond me. Despite these miscommunications, I did what I could to create the mood I originally had intended to convey. I wanted the eyes to be the main focal point, conveying the artist’s emotion on the subject, and highlighting what they had to say. Through this, I learned a great deal about how to adapt to changing settings and circumstances. Here is how they turned out so far…