COTT moves to educate public on its function

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

COTT President Curtis Jordan –

Educating members on how to navigate the music industry is a top priority for the Copyright Music Organisation of TT (COTT).

Curtis Jordan, the organisation’s president, addressed the media on Tuesday at a briefing at its Port of Spain head office, emphasising the significance of the briefing in clarifying misconceptions about COTT’s operations. While Jordan did not delve into specific claims, he underscored the importance of dispelling misinformation.

“There is a lot of ignorance around when it comes to the purpose of COTT and who we are. COTT is the only copyright music organisation that has fulfilled the criteria to become a member of an international umbrella body for both copyright and neighbouring rights.

“COTT has signed over 65 reciprocal agreements with international copyright music organisations and is the sole authority sanctioned by TT International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) to sue on behalf of master rights.”

Jordan highlighted COTT’s membership of over 4,200 individuals, spanning various genres. He said the organisation’s is committed to upholding statutory requirements and providing annual reports to its members.

Jordan spoke about COTT’s ongoing digitisation efforts aimed at creating a close-knit relationship with members in a digital age and ensuring accessibility to necessary resources. He said the initiative included a website, contact numbers and various touch points that reinforced the connection between COTT, its members and their music careers.

Jordan lamented the current state of music business education and COTT’s efforts to bridge this gap, citing monthly webinars and previous open days where members interacted one-on-one. He said those events provided comprehensive education, which empowered members to thrive in an evolving music landscape.

Former COTT president John Arnold emphasised that COTT was a non-profit organisation, calling its structure comprehensive, which includes a board of elected directors with departments for membership, distribution and finance. He said members were paid quarterly, and he reinforced the organisation’s role as a major Caribbean copyright entity.

Arnold stressed the need to raise awareness and visibility, acknowledging the extensive network that gives COTT a comparative and competitive advantage.

In response to questions, Jordan discussed ongoing educational initiatives, including webinars and collaborations with ISRC. He also outlined a project focused on creating a digital home for members, offering accessibility and data manipulation without physical presence. On a meeting request from the TT Collection Organisation in April, Arnold said “We actually had meetings with Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and World Intellectual Property (WIPO), who tried to solve the problem.

“That did not bear fruit. They have now worked on the collective management organisation regulatory framework, which is for the entire Caribbean. My understanding is that this kind of legislation will allow transparency, accountability and good governance.”

He said COTT board members were hoping that, between the IPO and WIPO, the legislative framework could be solved within the next year.

“We meet on a regular basis every month and we continue to seek the interest of members. Our job is to collect royalties to get more money for members, which includes digital platforms, the normal, traditional, and making sure that the events we want to work on are collaborative.”

COTT CEO Ayanna Belgrave-Lewis said the organisation had already collected over $10 million for the year and an administrative rate of 36 per cent.

Belgrave-Lewis said the organisation was using social media to engage members.

The organisation’s AGM is scheduled for 4 pm on December 12 at its Port of Spain head office.