Nashville: Beacon for Africa’s creative industries
Sunday, February 22, 2009
The rich history of Nashville, Tennessee, shows the way to economic empowerment for people in Africa's creative industries.
Creative industries (music, film, literature, etc.) contribute substantially to the economies of the world’s wealthiest countries (on some measures accounting for more than 10% of GDP). By contrast, in Africa their economic contribution is minimal.
A major part of the problem is piracy, which is both pernicious and widespread in all African countries. But piracy is only a symptom of a wider problem: state control of collective rights agencies, and a lack of copyright enforcement. As a result, recording companies underpay musicians and renege on agreements; meanwhile, musicians get little if anything from public broadcasts of their tunes.
To put it bluntly, musicians in Africa get a raw deal – which is why most commercial African music is produced in London and Paris.
How might African countries overcome these problems? A new IPN study finds inspiration in a unique place: Nashville, Tennessee. The authors, Mark Schultz (Southern Illinois U. School of Law) and Alec van Gelder (IPN), find that the music industry developed in and around Nashville because of its combination of a rich music culture and a legal framework conducive to entrepreneurship, in which copyright, contracts and other legal rights could readily be defined, enforced and transferred. Read more:
- Nashville in Africa: Culture, Institutions, Entrepreneurship and Development
- Unreliable laws have made African musicians poor (review of study by Daily Times, Malawi)
- Unchain Africa’s Melodies (Daily Mail, Ghana)
- African music needs to listen to early Nashville (Business Day, South Africa)
- A version of “Nashville in Africa” has been published by the Kentucky Law Journal (Vol.97, No.1).