Digitized Ghanaian Music: Empowering or Imperial?
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In the wake of the digital revolution, the Musicians' Union of Ghana has begun a massive campaign to re-establish its membership base, advocate for enforceable copyright policy changes, and introduce the technology necessary to make its members' music available for sale to digital consumers. However, despite the excitement behind this project, the vision of a professional class of musicians, enabled by the digitization and digital sale of Ghana's new and existing music, is problematic. Recent revenue reports collected from musicians based in the United States suggest that revenue collected from digital sales may not be the silver bullet Ghanaian musicians hope it will be. Analyzing corporate, government, development, and news documents, this study examines the history and the political economy of the current digitization efforts in Ghana to determine who claims to benefit from the project and who stands to bear the costs. Overall, this study recommends the introduction of new forms of cultural protectionism alongside existing copyright protections to avoid the potential exploitation associated with musical success. The empowering and imperial effects of the project are also debated.