JAMMS hails formation of event promoters association
2019 - 2020 record year for agency
ON SUNDAY, a cross section of entertainment industry stakeholders, many of them event promoters, convened a meeting with the aim of forging a unified front in charting a way forward in these COVID times, and also to strategise on how to regain viability for the sector which has been devastated by the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the Jamaica Music Society (JAMMS), Evon Mullings, is hailing this as a positive move which will serve to foster an even healthier and more viable entertainment ecosystem for all.
He told The Gleaner that over 20,000 entertainment events are staged islandwide each year by hundreds of different promoters; however, there existed no formal body which represents the interests of this vital section of the entertainment landscape. “We have long felt the need for an event promoters association, because through our role as a national licensing body, our engagement with associations results in significantly better outcomes for all parties concerned,” Mullings said. He explained that as a close contact with events promoters on a year-round basis, JAMMS is familiar with the wider set of issues that have challenged the group and the entertainment fraternity in general. He said, “It is important for their sake that they have a body and structure that can serve to advocate, lobby and represent in a meaningful way their issues, in particular, with government level authorities.”
Mullings added, “We are prepared to give our full and practical support to national and sectoral initiatives aimed at bringing the entertainment scene back to life, under the planned phased approaches.”
ROLE OF JAMMS
A collecting society and licensing agency, the role of JAMMS is to manage the broadcasting and public performance rights of its member. It involves the granting of licences to music users, including party organisers and show promoters, for which a fee is collected. With the industry shut down for the last three months, and a ban placed on permits for entertainment events, JAMMS, however, has so far remained in a viable position. “We have been able to remain strong, as, over the years, we have significantly widened our range in respect of licensing activities, beyond events, and so we still have revenues inflows,” Mullings said.
According to the CEO, the collections agency ended the financial year in April 2020 with strong results. “In fact, 2019 leading into 2020 was a record year for our income growth and as a result we were able to carry out a third royalty distribution to our members in April 2020, on top of our usual two distributions made in July 2019 and December 2019,” he said.
Mullings is assuring the agency’s several hundred members that despite the adverse impact on overall income JAMMS will be able to continue making its usual royalty distributions during the year. “What we must highlight, however, is that with incomes from licence fees still slowing down, and our projections revised downwards, our royalty distributions will be impacted. In short, while we will continue to carry out our usual royalty distributions the distributable amounts will be lower, at least for the foreseeable periods ahead,” he said.
CONCESSIONS TO EVENT PROMOTERS
But that, he said, doesn’t mean that the income gap caused by dried-up flow of permit fees from events has not dealt a meaningful blow to JAMMS’ overall income. “Each year, there are over 20,000 events held in Jamaica, most of which require a copyright permit from JAMMS. Despite our still sound financial footing, we are nevertheless concerned about the periods ahead. We have had to make downward adjustments to our revenue projections, from not only the events market but also for revenues flows from other sectors, which invariably will feel a pass-through effect from the general slowdown in economic activities,” Mullings outlined.
Mullings stated that the protracted uncertainty means that JAMMS has had to be curtailing costs and adjusting revenue projections downwards.
“One of our immediate responses has been to craft a policy that will enable us to be a practical and meaningful partner to the music-user community, which ultimately is the source of the revenues which we pay to members as royalties. In the first instance, we will be able to provide some concessions to event promoters, by way of permit fee discounts, so as to encourage and facilitate the re-emergence of the entertainment scene. Deferred payment and payment arrangements for multi-year licensees such as clubs, restaurants and bars, are also being facilitated. Suppliers of goods and services, across the board, may have to do the same so as to help rebuild the sector into one of viability as it comes back on stream in phases,” he said.
Mullings concluded that his company views music and entertainment as operating in a virtuous circle and therefore “we are extremely mindful of the health and viability of the entertainment ecosystem. We want to support and facilitate as best as possible because if the businesses do not do well, we will not do well.”