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Ababu Namwamba drawn into ‘ugly’ royalties collection war

The Cabinet Secretary for Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts, Ababu Namwamba, has been drawn into the royalties collection war in the Kenyan music industry after businessman Bernard Kioko wrote a letter to the ministry seeking to establish entities tasked with royalties collections in the country, other than the current three collective Management organizations (CMOs).

Kioko, who co-owns copyright with over 50 local artistes, wants Mr Namwamba to take immediate steps to stop the rot. As such he is requesting a meeting with the CS and other music stakeholders to present their proposal on how to address the situation.

“I am writing on my behalf and on behalf of others that are victims to mismanagement of their copyrights through the ineffective system that the government has had in place for years. I am music business owner who owns music copyright in partnership with more than 200 Kenyan artistes and music business people,” Kioko said.

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“Every year the Kenya Copyright Board has been licensing the same organizations to collect our money despite the continued mismanagement. We are now forced to confront this matter to seek an end to this enslavement. You will agree with us that it makes no sense to license CMOs that have continued to impoverish creatives. But this is what your ministry has done through Kecobo,” he further explained.

The businessman is also accusing Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) and Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK) of mismanagement of copyright royalties.

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He said should no longer be business as usual where the three CMOs, which artistes complain about year in year out, are the very same entities that continue to get license to collect royalties on behalf of artistes.

Kioko, who is the sole proprietor of Bernsoft Limited, the content company well known as Skiza Code provider, has said lack of robust structures to collect artiste royalties is what is hurting Kenyan artistes the most.

“In total our catalog of songs spans over 2000 songs. Over the last 10 years some of our songs have been the biggest in the country and have received immense radio and TV play. Despite this, we have not received royalties from the songs,” Kioko said.

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