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Should Cameroonian artistes reject bonuses and allowances cut proposals from their record label due to Coronavirus?

The Coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak has affected the way Cameroonians enjoy music and general entertainment in public spaces. It has also greatly affected the various avenues by which record labels get their money to take care of artistes, lodging & accommodation, bonuses and salaries.

I was recently approached by USA based Cameroonian owned record label who operate here in Douala, housing two artistes. The CEO explained to me that 70% of the money that he uses to run his label comes from his regular job over there in the USA and since the outbreak of the Coronavirus, he hasn’t been able to make enough money to keep the label alive.

He explained that money he gets from his regular job and the little that comes from artiste’s shows/concerts and music sales is used to pay artiste’s studio sessions, pay house artiste’s rents and bills, artiste allowances and bonuses, auxiliary staff salaries.

He continued that he recently had a conference call with his artiste’s and their personal managers trying to explain to them that the current crisis plaguing the world is affecting their business greatly and together with the other partners have decided to approach the artistes and propose to them implementing cost-cutting measures in a bid to stay afloat during the difficult times.

He also explained to them that he will be laying off some of auxiliary staff temporarily to better manage the difficult times and stay liquid to at least manage rents and other bills which are inevitable.

However, to his greatest dismay, the artistes ultimately rejected that proposal, citing that this is the moment that their fans need them most and they too have obligations towards the society with their plans to assist the health authorities and make charitable visits. The artistes also pointed out that it’s too soon for them to receive pay cuts, given we are just over 1 month into the crisis.

So, there we go, end of story.

I decided to pen down this situation in the form of an article because I know how delicate this is and looking at recent times, rash decisions to destroy relationships or put people in tight positions that will be difficult to come back from.

My initial thoughts about this whole scenario is that, it’s indeed true that it’s too soon for a record label to approach artistes for pay or bonus cuts. It’s almost as thought they had no plans for rainy days such as what we are facing now.

Again, this exposes how bad the Cameroonian music ecosystem can be given record labels still have a problem getting returns on their investment. If in 2020, record labels still invest without getting anything in return, then we need to return to the drawing boards and work out better strategies to make money from music.

During this time of crisis and quarantine, if people are not going out or traveling much, they must be doing something to entertain themselves. People must be staying at home and listening to music more. Thus, surely an increase in online music consumption. Record labels should take advantage of this and work out strategies to get some money off it.

For this article, I had to keep the identity of the artistes or the record labels confidential given I will not want to attract negative or maybe positive traffic to any of the parties in particular. Like I mentioned above, this is a critical scenario and so our opinions and advise to them on this matter will surely help them on the decisions they make and how to move forward.

What are your thoughts on this situation?




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