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MCSK distributes Sh15m in royalties to artists amid mixed reactions

By Rajab Zawadi September 11th, 2023 2 min read

The Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) recently distributed Sh15 million in royalties to its vast membership, consisting of over 16,000 artists, as confirmed by its CEO, Ezekiel Mutua.

As is often the case, this latest distribution from the Collective Management Organization (CMO) drew mixed reactions from artists, with some expressing disappointment over what they perceive as meager payouts.

Criticism has centered on the sporadic nature of these distributions, which often fall short of artists’ expectations.

In April of this year, renowned Sauti Sol vocalist Bien Aime Baraza used sarcasm to highlight the issue, sharing that he had received Sh14,634, a marked improvement from the Sh2,500 he had received in a previous distribution.

Bien humorously noted, “Your number 1 artist has been paid royalties. I can only imagine what upcoming artists like Khaligraph Jones are getting,” while sharing an M-Pesa screenshot.

Also read: Kenrazy: I earned Sh800,000 in royalties but wasted all of it

Ezekiel Mutua, who assumed his role as MCSK’s CEO in March 2022, defended the recent distribution, describing it as a significant step forward. He acknowledged that the disparity in payouts largely depended on the extent of airplay an artist received.

“Our hope is now, once we streamline things, musicians will make money. We had a choice to make when we got Sh15 million whether to distribute or not. We knew some would be happy while others would not because it depends on the airplay,” Mr Mutua explained.

Notably, during the recent distribution, MCSK faced challenges related to its licensing status.

The organization was embroiled in a dispute with the regulator, Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO), which had refused to renew its license.

Mutua indicated that this issue had contributed to MCSK’s inability to collect a significant amount in royalties.

Regarding the distribution figures, Mutua revealed that the highest earner received Sh330,000, while the lowest earner received Sh637.

However, there have been questions raised about the accuracy of these figures. Comedian and musician Oga Obinna shared a screenshot suggesting that he had received Sh258.

Also read: Lifts, choirs, tuk tuks and boda bodas to pay music royalties in new arrangement