Time To Play More Ghanaian Music

If you have had the chance of travelling around the world, one thing you may have observed is that, content from Ghana’s arts and creative industry is not really in demand. Especially with movies and music, Ghana is not really up there yet.

My observation, makes me feel like we are not pushing hard enough. Outside the country, Ghanaian music do not make rotations on radio, television and even their clubs compared to how foreign songs get high rotations in Ghana. With foreign music, I’m not talking about only Nigerian but songs coming outside Ghana and by non-Ghanaians.

There is definitely nothing worth celebrating when a DJ in Nigeria plays about 20 Nigerian songs and then breaks with a Ghanaian song before continuing from where he or she left off.  Most often, the  only time they will play a Ghanaian song is when it features a Nigerian musician.

You cannot blame them; the system is what we all should blame. And if there is any system at all in Ghana, then it’s not working at all. It needs servicing to work like other places.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) prioritises more local content that reflects the diversity of South African cultures. SABC in May this year, met with various stakeholders to commit itself to playing 90 percent local music across their 18 radio stations.

That decision was arrived at after extensive engagements between the SABC and some music representatives. It was also mentioned that, music to be played should be across all the genres with specific focus on Kwaito, Jazz, Reggae and Gospel.

“The SABC has taken a radical decision about its local content offering across all its radio, television and digital platforms. It is in this context that the decision on local music will ensure that the SABC fully reflects the various styles of local music on offer.

“Our respective radio stations will not be confined to playing local music which is language specific. We want to come to a point where any of our 18 radio stations can become a home for all South Africans.

“ This cross-pollination of music is very important for the public service broadcaster, because part of our mandate is to reflect the South African story and music is an important part in ensuring that the SABC achieves this mandate” said Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC’s Chief Operations Officer (COO).”

The above sums up SABC’s commitment to the South African people. Although I do not know of any regulation concerning the percentage of Nigerian music that should be played as against other countries in Nigeria,  I can confirm Nigerian DJs do not play more foreign songs. Never!

Currently in Ghana, I understand there is a regulation that 70 percent of Ghanaian songs should be played on air. But we can all concur that foreign songs gets more rotations on Ghanaian airwaves. Could it be that nobody follows the directives?

Sarkodie, Edem, Hammer, Kwaw Kese, Obrafour and Tinny

Sarkodie, Edem, Hammer, Kwaw Kese, Obrafour and Tinny

“If you go to Nigeria, you would not even hear Ghanaian songs on regular basics but here in Ghana, it’s the vice-versa. We are not saying don’t play Nigerian songs oo, but at least give more airtime to playing Ghanaian songs, please DJs play our songs also small,” Kwaw Kese said at the Ghana DJ Awards.

“Ghanaian music is being controlled by DJs. When some musicians are given big platforms like what you have given me, they don’t voice out their problems and they rather complain behind doors. One of the biggest problems is that all the radio stations in Ghana play Nigerian songs.

“We need the support of the DJs because going to the studio to do music make up about 10 per cent and the rest lie with the DJs and the fans out there. So, if the DJs do not play your music, how are your fans going to hear your music?” Nana Quame said on Accra FM’s Entertainment Capital.

“This is just common sense. If you play foreign songs on radio stations and you are to pay royalties, it means you are paying for foreign songs. It’s a matter of you looking inward to develop your economy. The more Ghanaian music is played, the more the money remains in Ghana; the more you  entrench your culture.”

Live 91.9 FM recently announced  they will play only Ghanaian songs on Wednesdays. “Setting aside a day for only Ghanaian music on air is our way of supporting and promoting the growth of the Ghanaian music industry as we’ve done in the past. We are stepping up our support game a little more. We are featuring the best of Ghanaian music only for 24 solid hours” Antoine Mensah, Programmes Manager said.

While something is being done about this, it is woefully inadequate. A day is set aside during the Ghana Music Week Festival for solely Ghanaian songs to be played. Whether the radio stations follow that directive is another thing to worry about.

Ghanaian music needs more than a day in a year to get the needed rotation on radio. Thus, if common sense cannot force Ghanaian DJs to play more Ghanaian songs, maybe a law should compel them to do so. And the time to act is now because the current trend is not funny anymore.

Few days ago, entertainment personality and artiste manager, George Mensah Britton, kicked off a campaign to ensure Ghana songs gets 80 percent rotation on both radio and television.

I do not know how far that campaign will go since it’s not backed by any law but I think it’s a project worth supporting. Yes, we cannot ban foreign music but let’s not play them at the expense of ours.

By Ebenezer Anangfio

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