Over the years, there has been raging debate about the system of royalty management by Kenya’s artists. They have been accusing the Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) of screwing them out of their royalties.
This prompted the President to announce changes to the collection structures for content service providers that will require all right holders to register on the National Rights Registry.
The move was meant to flush out middlemen in the collection structures of Viusasa and Skiza Tunes thereby making artists get a bigger cut of their royalties.
“Kenyans are highly talented and the music industry one of the most lucrative in our country. They are getting low returns and we must allow their investments to pay off so that many more can follow them into the industry, and I believe that in this way, we can do exceptionally well.
Regarding Content Service Providers, my intent is to support the sector using a multi-pronged approach. Content Service Providers who work with digital platforms such as SKIZA and Viusasa, will be eliminated. And this is because they sit outside the Collection Management Organisations. My practical direction on this is to have all rights holders register on the National Rights Registry,” said President Uhuru in yesterday’s state of the Nation address.
However, gospel musician Jimmy Gait has grown frustrated with the President’s order. He voiced his dissatisfaction in saying: ” Viusasa has improved my revenue as an artist. I plead with the President to allow every artist to decide where they want their music to be sold. Just like any manufacturer has the right to say where their products will be sold. ”
His fellow gospel artist Ringtone and comedian Jaymo Ule Msee expressed support for Uhuru’s order saying it will solve their problems.
In Kenya, there are collecting societies for music authors (MCSK), producers (KAMP) and performers (PRISK) which are private entities registered as companies limited by guarantee. They are licensed annually and regulated by the Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo).