By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
The Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA) is indisputably the biggest music awards in Ghana and one of the biggest in Africa but unfortunately, it lacks that basic element that pegs the scheme as an international award scheme.
After 21 years, the scheme obviously lacks Basic Guidelines – directives that guide the proceedings of the awards.
The unavailability of the Basic Guidelines is what has, over the years, instigated the level of confusion that has shrouded the scheme. This has, to some extent, posed a PR nightmare to the organizers.
The recent brouhaha over the nomination of a foreigner for the ‘Best Producer of the Year’ category among others have exposed such a flaw in the scheme.
What Are Basic Guidelines?
The Guidelines are the basic rules and regulations that guide the mechanism of the scheme. Such guidelines which are supposed to be presented in a document would have the following; the eligibility year, who qualifies to participate in the awards and what categories, how and where songs should be released, who gets a plaque and who gets a certificate, how the Board and Academy are selected and their functions in the scheme and others.
If there are monetary rewards or otherwise, the Guidelines are supposed to indicate that, so, before we enter the activities for the current edition of the awards, every stakeholder is privy of the guidelines that direct that edition.
These guidelines can be revised as the trends of the industry changes and are different from Category Definitions.
Who Qualifies To Be Part of the Awards?
The nomination of Chris Rich for ‘Producer of the Year’ raised some questions on the eligibility procedures for the VGMA. As a PR move, essentially employed every year, the VGMA Board asserted that, the category definition allows him to be part.
The PR Machinery were also buoyed by the fact the late Bodo Staiger has won the category some years past, but what the entire organization failed to realize was the fact that, in 2016, they had unjustly disqualified Mr. Eazi from the scheme, with the reason that he was not a Ghanaian and that, he was on eligible to compete for the ‘African Act of the Year’ category.
Mr. Eazi’s decision gave the impression that, non-Ghanaians would not be nominated, except for the international categories, only for us to have the Chris Rich faux pas.
The flip flopping by the VGMA is all due to the fact that, there are no guidelines that stipulates who qualifies to be in the scheme, which song, released in Ghana or not, can qualify and which categories are open for international acts etc.
“Knee Jerk Reaction”
This year, the VGMA Board unceremoniously introduced what they called, ‘New Categories’ to the scheme and what piqued interest was the literature that supported the ‘Vodafone Most Popular Song’ category.
In this category, it’s been the norm to select only one popular song from an Artiste, even if the Artiste should have multiple hit songs. This year however, the VGMA Board agreed to allow the category to feature all hit songs, irrespective of whether they are from same artiste or not.
Wait! Norm? Where? When?
The Board says it’s the norm to select only one popular song from an Artiste, even if the Artiste should have multiple hit songs. A norm that was initiated into the awards at what time? Where is this norm stated in the directives of the scheme? Who knows about this norm?
Clearly, there is no Basic Guidelines to have this norm, reason this same Board, some years ago, via their PR machinery stated that, the Board decides to use the infamous parlance, ‘Best Foot Forward’ in not nominating multiple songs from one artiste.
During the projection of their ‘Best Foot Forward’ nonsense, they forgot that the same scheme had nominated 2 songs for Sarkodie in the ‘Best Collaboration of the Year’ category in 2012.
Who Gets What?
Just like some other categories, the Board and the organizers have not been consistent with who gets what plaque? From ‘Best Collaboration of the Year’ to ‘Video of the Year’ – the plaques have been presented to one person to multiple persons over the period, depicting the lack of consistency that pertains with the awards.
There are no basic guidelines that tell who is eligible for a plaque and who is eligible for a certificate etc.
On issues to do with monetary rewards, the organizers and the Board failed to issue any communication to the effect that, VGMA had stopped offering money to winners of various categories except the Lifetime Achievement Award.
It had to take a radio interview for the PRO of Charterhouse to tell the nation that, that decision to offer money to winners has been cancelled.
Make Decisions Public
Nobody disputes the powers of the VGMA Board. Together with the organizers, Charterhouse, organizers of the scheme, they make decisions that affect the proceedings of the scheme. However, over the period, the Board makes alterations to the scheme and does not find it convenient to share it with the general public until a matter arises.
The award scheme is not for the Board, it is for everybody else including the general populace who are also stakeholders, and so, it is germane that when the Board makes a decision, they duly inform other stakeholders in an organized manner.
That organized manner is basic guidelines that ought to be revised when necessary. We do not need the PR to be flippantly defending and clarifying matters only when issues come up.