NO MORE MIDDLEMEN

Artistes welcome Uhuru's call to centralise royalties

President said move is to ensure their investments pay off

In Summary

• Content Service Providers will channel all payment of royalties through Kecobo

President Uhuru Kenyatta
President Uhuru Kenyatta
Image: FILE

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday shook up the music industry by declaring content service providers will channel all payment of royalties through the Kenya Copyright Board.

He sought to weed out middlemen in the collection structures of Viusasa and Skiza Tunes, a move he said was intended to help artistes making little money from a lucrative industry to prosper.

 
 

"Kenyans are highly talented and the music industry one of the most lucrative in our country," he said, addressing the nation in Mombasa.

"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."

Word Is reached out to various celebrities whose content is on various digital platforms.

Comedian Jaymo Ule Msee said, "As a content creator, I think there have been so many middlemen on the ground. When we get government support on how we are supposed to go about it, it becomes good because there will be a policy. I hope Kecobo will give us the strategy. Once we understand that, we are good to go."

Adding, "The good thing is there is political support, especially when it is coming from the President as a directive. It's a good step and the President has noted that content creators are being short-changed and are not getting value for their money. We also want to know our contact person in the government just in case things don't go as planned."

Singer Jimmy Gait said he is content with the platforms he uses to sell his music. "Viusasa has improved my revenue as an artitse. 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," he said.

 
 

Controversial gospel artiste Ringtone Apoko seconded President Uhuru's message. 

"Those companies act as middlemen between artistes and service providers and take a big percentage of our money. As an artiste, I'm happy that the President has solved 80 per cent of our problems," he said in a phone interview with the Star.

"The only challenge we have now is the Kenya Copyright Board. He has to streamline the board because some of the employees there have been working with cartels."

Royal Media Services production manager Stanley Ngige told Word Is on Tuesday, "We were not consulted before the move. We're trying to discuss as a company and see what the way forward. We saw the announcement on TV just like everyone else."

In his speech, Uhuru said his intention was to support the sector using multi-pronged approaches.

"One, the current sector structure, which comprises content service providers who work with digital platforms such as Skiza and Viusasa, will be eliminatedAnd this is because they sit outside the content management organisations," he said.

"My practical direction on this is to have all right holders registered on the national rights registry. To receive royalties, content service providers will be required to channel all payments of royalties through a single centrally-managed account at the Kenya Copyright Board. And this will enable oversight by the regulator and ensure the collection and distribution accounts are easily auditable."

Adding, "Following numerous complaints and in-depth discussions in the industry, I direct the ICT ministry to work with stakeholders to resolve the legacy issues that have plagued the rights holders for decades in this country."