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Protect your property — Stephens

By Simone Morgan-Lindo
Observer staff reporter

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Reggae singer Richie Stephens, who recently picked up two honours for Song of the Year and Top Digital Song at the ASCAP music awards in London, England, is calling on his fellow artistes to protect their intellectual property.

Speaking with the Jamaica Observer from Europe, where he is currently on tour with his Ska Nation Band, Stephens saidi t is extremely important for artistes to be educated and informed about their about rights, publishing and royalties.

“We all should lead the charge to collect on our intellectual properties. Not only artistes, but everyone who is involved in music needs to monetise their work. There is so much money out there to be collected from these agencies. I am still learning as there are several new ones. We all need to seek knowledge and have proper people representing us so we can get what is owed to us, as there are still artistes out there who are not aware of the cash that is owed to them,” he said.

Stephens said he is also imploring musicans to keep and own their master tapes as failure to do so may result in them losing their profit should their work become big.

“Don't sell out yourself as you dont know what can happen years from now. If you are not the owner of the masters, you can be cut out of something big,” he said.

The awards were presented to Stephens for his contribution to Rihanna's popular track Work which was among the top ASCAP songs on the 2016 year-end charts.This is the second time that Stephens will be honoured by ASCAP. In April of this year he received a pop award at the ASCAP Pop Music Awards in Hollywood.

ASCAP is an American not-for-profit performance rights organisation that protects its members' musical copyright by monitoring public performances of their music and seeking compensation.

For Stephens, these latest accolades showcase his different dimensions as an artiste and as an individual.

“I am known mostly as a singer but I have been into production for a long time, and it's fair to say that I have helped to create this mixture between dancehall and R&B years ago with She's a Maniac. These accolades are really good as it helps people to see that there is another side to Richie Stephens,” he said.

Stephens said he dedicated a lot of time and energy when he made the Sail Away rhythm 19 years ago which was 'sampled' for the Rihanna track.

“I put my soul into the rhythm. I changed the one chord to several chords so that it was suitable for a singer and not just a deejay. This rhythm, as well as others, were done in the 1990s, but is just coming to the forefront internationally,” he said.

Stephens also credited his short stint at the School of Music years ago for his success as a producer/musician.

“I did private piano lessons with a teacher there so I didn't graduate or anything, but I got the confidence I needed to play perfectly on the rhythms that I was building at that time,” he said.