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Kecobo exposes list of 15 top artistes paid less royalties by MCSK

By Hilary Kimuyu February 21st, 2024 2 min read

The Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) has published a detailed list of royalty distributions, sparking a conversation about fairness and transparency in the creative industry.

The revelation shows significant disparities in payments to artists, highlighting a systemic problem in the management and distribution of royalties.

Under the Copyright Collective Management Organisations (CMO) Regulations, CMOs are required to distribute at least 70% of their collections to rightful copyright owners.

However, KECOBO’s recent findings indicate a significant deviation from this requirement, with many artists receiving a fraction of what they are due.

Also read: List of MCSK’s highest royalty earners in 2024

A detailed analysis provided by KECOBO reveals the disparity between the actual payments received by artists and the amounts they would have received had the 70% distribution rule been strictly adhered to.

For example, artist Rehema Lugose received Sh757,092, but under the 70% rule she would have been entitled to a staggering Sh4,540,000. Similarly, renowned musician Reuben Kigame was paid Sh 122,410 when he should have been paid Sh734,460.

This is not an isolated case. Several other artists from different genres have reported similar underpayments, highlighting a systemic problem in the administration of the CMOs. Notably, regions such as Coast, Nyanza and Central were either under-represented or completely omitted from the distribution list, raising concerns about regional bias and lack of inclusivity in the royalty distribution process.

Here is the list

Kecobo released a list of artistes royalties based on the CMO regulations. PHOTO| NAIROBI NEWS

Note: The column “Payments if 70% Rule Observed” calculates the potential earnings if 70% of the collection were distributed to the artists, as per the Copyright Regulations.

Also read: EXCLUSIVE: Bien: How I spent the 14k MCSK paid me

In 2023, a total of Kshs. 249,687,212.80 was reportedly collected by the three main CMOs in Kenya. However, discrepancies in reporting and allocation have led to a shortfall in expected distributions, with MCSK, KAMP and PRISK reporting different amounts, further complicating the transparency of the distribution process.

The KECOBO report also criticised the high operating costs and underperformance of the CMOs, suggesting that a more efficient, open and transparent management approach could significantly improve the livelihoods of artists. The Board emphasised the need to drastically reduce costs to ensure that artists receive a fair share of royalties.

The KECOBO Board noted that royalties from the first quarter of 2023 have been the only payments made to artists, with subsequent quarters’ collections being withheld despite an improved business environment. This practice has deprived artists of their rightful earnings, affecting their financial stability and ability to create.

In light of these findings, KECOBO has vowed to take the necessary steps to address these discrepancies and ensure fair treatment for all artists. This includes demanding explanations for the under-representation of certain regions and exploring legal options to hold those responsible to account.