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HomeOpinionCommentary‘Let us do it right’: ECCO Chairman reports at AGM

‘Let us do it right’: ECCO Chairman reports at AGM

  • David Jordan, Chairman, of the Eastern Caribbean Collective Rights Organisation for Music Rights (ECCO), at the 13th Annual General Meeting March 23, 2024.

Having charted a course under the theme, “Let us do it right,” The Eastern Caribbean Collective Organisation for Music Rights Inc., (ECCO) has survived another year.

The organization encountered many challenges both within and without in the quest for its stabilization. ECCO has not succumbed to defeat but rather, in weathering the many storms, it has grown to become more resilient.

The accomplishments under the tenure of the board 2022-2024, have been fewer than we had hoped for. Among other things, ECCO has experienced staff changes as well as delays in the implementation of critical activities inclusive of the UN WIPO Connect.

Many of these delays may be considered as being beyond the organisation’s control. It is also worth noting that, while the COVID-19 pandemic is well behind us, some things have not yet returned to normal and others have been stabilised at a “new normal.”

Governance

When the board assumed office and I, as its chair, at the end of December 2021, we inherited a backlog of (i) Corporate Registrar filings in all territories – to the exception of Saint Lucia, and (ii) Annual Audited Financial Statements dating back to 2020.

(iii) Board Minutes. Steps were taken immediately by the board, to address the backlog. At this time, the board is in a position to announce at and inform the 13th AGM that the corporate filings are up to date; (ii) the distribution of 2019 royalties was made in January 2023 and the annual audit for 2023 is completed. We all agree that keeping the financial reporting up to date, as you will imagine, is greatly important for an organization such as ECCO in keeping with its fiduciary responsibility.

Management

Notwithstanding the challenges and disappointments, notable progress has been made, in several areas. With respect to internal operations, in particular, human resource management – an important milestone was achieved, with the appointment of a chief executive officer to fill a post which remained vacant for some time.

This allowed for more stable day-to-day management of the ECCO office ever since May 2023 and hopefully, for greater attention to be paid to strategic planning, programming, budgeting and capacity building within ECCO and for the benefit of the membership.

The board also recently approved appointments, with a new OM, ADO and an accounts clerk. The absence of the latter had long been identified, in successive annual audits – as a gap to be filled in order to ensure the separation of the accounting duties. The areas of licensing and membership functions will now need to be addressed in accordance with ECCO’s mandate.

At this time, and on behalf of the board, I wish to thank the members of staff and the board members, who kept the office afloat, in the absence of a CEO and who held various acting positions while steps were being taken to stabilise the operations of the organisation

EGM 2023

Members you will recall that, at the last extraordinary general meeting held in October 2023. We approved the audit services of Grant Thornton for another three years; and also approved the need for a Legislative and Regulatory Agenda for ECCO.

The EGM received and approved an Engineer’s Report on the status and options, for the ECCO building at Sans Souci. The building has been experiencing severe cracking to the extent that there was fear for the safety of staff members. Fortunately, the office has been safely relocated to another building in Sans Souci effective January 2024, and steps are being taken to address the issues at our building; even while options are being considered for the medium-to-long term.

ECCO, AGM 2024

Financial status

As previously indicated, the financial reporting is now up to date and this has provided a clearer picture of the financial status of the organisation. Due to the total absence of licensable performances arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 turned out to be a year of financial loss for the organisation. However, in 2021, 2022 and 2023, ECCO recorded net surpluses and, as a result, the organisation has found itself in a position where it can issue royalty payments for those years. Indeed, I am pleased to announce that these payments will start to be issued promptly and continue in accordance with our mandate.

In the last several months, the board of directors sought to work with management, to adopt a more strategic and long-term approach to ECCO’s growth and development.

This is critical in a world where even the methods of accessing and consuming music are changing dramatically. When ECCO started its operations, Compact Discs (CDs) were still popular. Today, streaming is the norm; and silent fetes are becoming increasingly popular and more than 60 percent of the consumption of music by users is internet-driven.

A new theme

Some of the key considerations for a strategic vision for ECCO under the new theme “The Future of Intellectual Property Rights and Culture Supporting and Empowering Creators,” are in my view, ought to be:

  1. Increasing licensing and revenue collection to realize greater benefits for our members, while addressing the new forms of music consumption and for us to improve the monitoring and compliance measures. It will also be critical that all ECCO territories generate revenue at a level that ensures some degree of equity between them for the interest of members in the respective territories.
  2. Enhancing internal operations of ECCO so as to improve, our system, among others, in areas of Accountability, Efficiency, Marketing, Policies and Transparency, for the benefit of members and to place ECCO on par or with or even better than the other Copyright Management Organisations (CMOs) in the region.
  3. Continuing to work on advancing the Legislative Agenda and Regulatory framework which embody the mandate of ECCO and address the areas in the music industry which are identified for future development thus making our organisation more relevant in a modern day to serve the membership more meaningfully. Work has started on this but has not progressed far enough.
  4. Enhancing the engagement, outreach and collaboration with the membership – the music creators, music users and key stakeholders, including the Governments and Broadcasting Corporations, of the sub-region; in support of the aforementioned objectives. This ensures that all concerned are sufficiently well informed, educated and the collective scope of the mindsets broadened to enable greater monetary rewards and empowerment of our membership.

ECCO has grown in many ways over the years and will continue to do so if properly nurtured. To realise the greatest success, we as music creators, publishers, agents, office staff and the Board of Directors must all work towards a common goal and aim.

I implore, therefore, that the membership not only ensures our intellectual property is protected and that while fervently guarding the collection and distribution of our royalty payments, that we, also work towards improving our standing as a CMO in the sub-region.

It is my hope that, by the next ECCO Annual General Meeting, our treasured organisation will be well on the way to becoming the model Copyright Management Organisation (CMO) in the Caribbean.  

ECCO chairman appeals to membership: ‘Attend to the affairs of the organization’

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