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The Breeze That’s Changing Entertainment in Ghana

After giving the world highlife music and treating her people to very good local TV drama series in the past, Ghana’s entertainment industry has evolved over the years and continues to do so today. And so has the marketing of the arts evolved too. I will, in this article discuss how the internet is changing entertainment in Ghana. As Internet speed gets faster and the price of smartphones and devices tumble, the communication technology is opening up possibilities for entertainment production and distribution, and how it’s consumed.

Streaming: Streaming audio and video has gained popularity in the Ghanaian entertainment industry. It is very much easier to watch a music video or a movie or listen to a song via streaming. This has reduced the sales of discs which was the major source of income for entertainers in the past.

However, streaming could be more beneficiary and lucrative, considering the advantages the internet offers. Entertainers can now tap into markets they couldn’t have, if discs were sold. The interesting part of streaming entertainment materials is that, how much an artiste earns depends on the number of views his/her work has. This factor has drawn a relationship between the artist and the quality of their works.

With sites like YouTube that allows fans to leave comments on materials viewed, one would decide to read the peoples comments or reviews first before streaming the video with his data. If the reviews are positive and speak well of the material, the artist would probably gain views and earn revenue. Otherwise the artiste may be losing a view and certainly revenue. On the internet, every view counts.

That is just with music. Now, to movies. Streaming is still tyro to the Ghanaian film industry. I’ve discovered in my research that only one movie production enterprise, that is, Sparrow Productions streams its movie online (at sparrowstation.com). Occasionally, you will find some other movies on YouTube, but these movies are old movies. Very old. You may find snippets of new episodes or full movies that have been uploaded by users.

Ghanaian movie producers must see the internet as a tool for their operations rather than stick to the same old disc medium of putting their creativity across; discs which you might even struggle to get and buy. When this is done, they will be able to rig in some more revenue, create a healthy competition in the industry and also produce better quality films since artistes and producers’ revenues depends on views and views depend on the quality of work.

Online sales: Since the emergence of commerce on the internet, players in show business in the advanced countries have waded in deeply to the surprise and convenience of patrons. Some entertainers in Ghana and their management have also dived in and making good money and tapping into foreign markets.

With online sales of creative stuff, artists are able to sell to the entire world, far more than they could think of in their home country alone. How much one is able to sell depends on how well they market themselves and brand as artistes. Artistes do sell whole albums online and make huge amounts of money.

Sales online has not totally eliminated discs though, but its patronage has grown and the benefits it offers artists are enormous than discs. The story is however different with our movie industry. I didn’t know of any online outlet that sells movies until I found one when I was doing my research for this article.

I personally think this could give our producers more revenue than compact discs, dvds and premiers, and better opportunities to be known whiles they add to the foreign exchange the arts attracts into the local economy.

Social media: Entertainment is show business (SHOWBIZ) and show business thrives on large following of fans. How well an entertainer relates to his fans determines the success or otherwise of his brand. Social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have created the platform for fans of entertainers to have direct and more intimate relationship with their favourite performers.

The presence of these performers on social media platforms alone puts them in a better position to market themselves. An entertainer who retweets tweets of  fans, responds to comments on Facebook and likes pictures of fans on Instagram, is most likely to gain and retain fans to his brand.

John Dumelo and a few other Ghanaian celebrities have over a million following on Facebook. Do you have any idea how much good this will do for them? Entertainment fans worldwide are always interested in the daily lives of their favourite performers and social media is a means used by entertainers to satisfy their fans.

They can also use their influence on these platforms to lead campaigns on social issues which affects us all. Yvonne Nelson in recent history used her social media influence to lead a march in Accra, in protest of worsening power crises. With turnout in the thousands, the power of social media was at full display.

Beside the beauty of social media earlier talked about, it can get ugly too. Just like the Kim Khardashian and Amber Rose feud that kept social media buzzing, fans talking and entertainment media selling, performers in Ghana pick on each other every once a while to sell and make news.

The latest feud between Promzy and celebrated grandpapa of hiplife Reggie Rockstone got the refined VVIP quite some hype with their new single Skolom. Feud between Yvonne Nelson and John Dumelo got a lot of fans disappointed but as they say, there is no bad publicity. Their rage got them a few headlines.

Free Downloads: There are two sides to the showbiz coin. One side is the artistes and producers’ demanding what is due them for the time and effort put into the creation of the music and movies and the other is the consumer who thinks it is too expensive, the price is not worth the work or just to have it for free.

Just as people in the arts some years back did what they did for fame, I can bet my last cedi that, artist of the internet age made music and dumped them on music portals for free downloads expecting their royalties from airplay without knowing they were letting go of fortunes until they realized royalties could be earned from the internet too. Regardless how damaging free downloads can be, musicians still dump music on portals for free so they could win some fans.

Free downloads change the entire distribution chain of music since the end user can sit behind a computer or his smart device and own whatever music he wants without anybody receiving CDs in bulk and distributing it to a retailer before he goes to buy. Amazing thing is, it is free.

Movies on the other hand still have their distribution channels intact but I think it’s a matter of time for innovative distribution powered by the internet to rock the industry.  It would be best if producers can anticipate and prepare for it so they don’t loose track of the market.

Sparrow productions for instance, have already started by renting its movies online at sparrowstation.com, so you hardly see a sparrow movie disk on sale at the market. They rent an episode at a price of $1.30 and the rental period lasts from 48hrs to 30 days depending on the content.

I can bet a mansion you’ll not find a latest production movie to buy and watch unless you rent from sparrowstation.com. I think it is a smart move to make money and protect copyrights, if you ask my opinion. But it might cause them a few fans who may not be able to afford it, but there can be a way out where they pay less for less rental days.

The Internet of today is the breeze that’s changing entertainment in Ghana.

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