SHOWBUZZ: We pay peanuts because we collect peanuts, MCSK tells Parliament

Organisations that collect royalties for musicians, actors, producers and songwriters have been ordered to submit a cache of their records to the Energy, Information and Communication Committee of the National Assembly.

Saturday February 13 2016

MP Johnston Sakaja (center) together with various artists addresses the media on January 15, 2016 at National Theatre on allegations of fraud at Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK). MCSK pays composers, authors and publishers royalties. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

MP Johnston Sakaja (center) together with various artists addresses the media on January 15, 2016 at National Theatre on allegations of fraud at Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK). MCSK pays composers, authors and publishers royalties. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOSEPHINE MOSONGO
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Organisations that collect royalties for musicians, actors, producers and songwriters have been ordered to submit a cache of their records to the Energy, Information and Communication Committee of the National Assembly.

The committee also ordered the organisations and the Kenya Copyright Board to stop an ongoing process of coming up with laws or amendments to existing laws to do with the entertainment industry.

Committee chairman Jamleck Kamau gave the orders at the end of a ground-breaking meeting between the bodies, jointly referred to as Collective Management Organisations (CMOS), and the artistes they have been fighting with over royalties.

“We would not want to entrust the making of laws to a body that is already entangled in fights with artistes,” said Mr Kamau.

He said the evident problems were a lack of adequate laws and a variety of vested interests.

TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja, who has been handling the matter for about two months, said from his analysis, the industry can generate more than Sh1 billion a month.

“Part of the challenge is that CMOs are private entities, it is very difficult to enforce accountability as we would on a public entity. The role of the CMOs can be played by a government entity,” said Mr Sakaja.

He said that from his analysis, some artistes have been exploited because of their financial and legal illiteracy, some even selling their rights to the songs they will record in the future.

“Those who deserve it are not getting what they should get,” said Mr Sakaja.

He used the Skiza tunes service by Safaricom as one such example, saying the mobile phone service provider gets 85 per cent of the income, with the mass text service provider and the artiste sharing the rest of the 15 per cent.

Foreign artistes however have a better deal as they get 30 per cent of the revenue. Mr Sakaja said he had gotten the President and the Chief Executive of Safaricom to discuss the matter and hoped there would be a solution soon.

CMOs are the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) and the Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK).

The committee asked the organisations to submit documents for the past two years detailing their reports on operations, audited accounts, breakdown of income and payments to each artiste and the formulas used to calculate the payments.

The committee is handling a petition from the artistes arising from their grievances with the CMOs, which they say are collecting royalties from broadcasters and public service vehicles but giving very little to the artistes.

“If there is a way this committee can make it possible for one CMO to collect for everybody, that would work,” said Arthur Kamau, a producer.

Maurice Okoth, the chief executive of MCSK, said the main challenge they face is that they have to collect the licence  fees from public service vehicles themselves and thus end up spending a lot of administration expenses.

He said they collected Sh383 million last year but 50-60 per cent of thus went to expenses. “We pay peanuts because we are collecting peanuts,” he added.