The chairman of the Ghana Music Rights Organisation (GHAMRO), Rex Omar, has explained that churches would be required to pay royalties on music they use for events and concerts they organise and not for what they use for their praises and worship in church.
The GHAMRO chairman said in an interview with Showbiz that there have been some misconceptions since his outfit made statements about churches and royalties and it was necessary to clear the air on the issue.
“Churches are increasingly organising concerts and other events and it is only right that they pay royalties. If a church organises a gospel event on their church premises or at any public venue, the fact that it is being organised by a church does not absolve them from paying royalties just like any other event organiser,” he said.
“If a church invites an artiste to its premises and pays the artiste to perform, at that moment the church is not holding a church service. It’s holding an event and that is what royalties must be paid for,” he explained.
Talking about the backlash he has received from the public and some gospel artistes since this directive was made public, Rex Omar said the reaction was to be expected and that it was borne out of ignorance.
“I am not surprised about the reaction because people fight against things they do not understand instead of asking for further clarification. The gospel artistes who have come out against this cannot eat their cake and have it.
“On one hand, they want GHAMRO to pay them royalties but on the other hand, they are fighting us when we try to collect money,” he stated. Rex Omar said before the new directive is implemented, ample education would be carried out to ensure all parties adequately understood what GHAMRO was trying to do.
“We are already engaging the leadership of churches and Christian associations as well as our membership on this issue. We are not going to back out of this because people don’t understand what we want to do. I believe churches would gladly come on board when they adequately understand what we are trying to do,” he said.
Rex Omar also denied reports that GHAMRO will collect royalties from individuals who use music in their cars or for private purposes.
“When you buy music, it is for your personal use and you can use it in your car, home or wherever for private purposes. However, when you play the music at other people’s parties and collect money like the spinners do, then you are crossing into a different area.
“If you play the music in public transport like an aeroplane, bus or taxi, for which you have collected money from passengers, then you have to pay royalties,” the GHAMRO chairman pointed out.