Nairobi News

ChillaxGeneralMust ReadNewsWhat's Hot

Ezekiel Mutua, Angela Ndambuki say CMOs can’t pay musicians deserved royalties

By Sinda Matiko December 6th, 2023 2 min read

For more than a decade, Kenyan musicians have faced persistent challenges in receiving fair and timely royalty distributions from their collective management organizations (CMOs) – Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK), and Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP).

Recent forensic audit reports from 2020 to 2023 have revealed the embezzlement of tens of millions in royalties by officials within these CMOs, causing a loss of trust among Kenyan artists.

Although the reports are now in the hands of the Director of Criminal Investigation, implicated officials still occupy positions on the boards of these CMOs. The heads of these organizations claim they are unable to distribute 70 percent of the total royalties collected, citing operational bills as a significant hindrance.

Also read: Ezekiel Mutua flirting with TV presenter leaves tongues wagging

MCSK CEO Dr Ezekiel Mutua recently spoke at a forum convened by the new Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) chairman, Joshua Kutuny.

Mutua highlighted a lack of police support as a major challenge for more than three years, affecting the CMOs’ ability to collect funds.

The police escort to CMOs was withdrawn by the state in 2021, and Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki has declined requests for reinstatement.

CS Kindiki stated that the decision to withdraw the service was due to a breakdown in the rules of engagement by the CMOs.

The organizations were accused of going rogue with police service at their disposal. Mutua emphasized that compliance issues with sectors like broadcasters, the matatu industry, and entertainment places contribute to low collections.

According to Mutua, MCSK alone collected Sh650 million in 2015 when they had police escort. Currently, the three CMOs collectively collect less than Ksh200 million per year, making it challenging to meet the 70:30 royalties’ distribution threshold.

This violates CMO regulations 2020, which stipulate that administrative costs should not exceed thirty percent of royalties collected, and royalties should be regularly and properly distributed using approved distribution rules.

Also read: Ssaru claps back at Ezekiel Mutua for criticizing ‘Kaskie Vibaya’ hit song

With KECOBO heavily underfunded by the government, receiving a budgetary allocation of about Ksh100 million, holding the CMOs accountable has proven difficult, leaving artists without their rightful earnings. The situation raises questions about the need for regulatory reforms to protect the interests of Kenyan musicians.