Royalties dispute: Relief for artistes as Parliamentary committee intervenes
Kenyan artistes have been reassured that their grievances on collection and distribution of royalties by the Parliamentary Committee on Sports and Culture
The assurances came following a daylong roundtable discussion between the committee and other key stakeholders in the industry.
During the meeting, the committee, under leadership of Webuye West MP Dan Wanyama, also deliberated on controversial withdrawal of a case where musicians lost Sh63 million.
The discussions, which followed a meeting petitioned by Kirinyaga Woman Representative Jane Njeri, brought together Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo), Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) and representatives of the artistes.
During the entire session, Kecobo CEO Edward Sigei was at pains to explain the circumstances under which the case was withdrawn, and in whose interests.
Mr Sigei was also blamed for being the stumbling block to MCSK’s role of collecting royalties on behalf of the artistes.
One of the key resolution that was reached by the committee was an order directing the regulator to issue licenses CMOs, which collects royalties on behalf of MCSK.
“The challenges that CMOs and artistes are going through are created by the regulator. We have given the regulator firm instructions to create a very conducive environment for CMOs and artistes to operate, and particularly giving CMOs licenses to collecting also enabling them enforcement officers to ensure that what is due for CMOs to go to the artistes is done,” Wanyama said.
The committee also asked Kecobo to refund Sh5.4 million to MCSK, which was paid for license which never materialised.
Mr Sigei said the fund was nonrefundable but agreed to heed the directives of the committee.
The copyright board was also directed to ensure that CMOs are enabled to collects royalties from media houses, matatus and hotels.
“We’ve given instructions to Mr Sigei to make sure that by next week, the CMOs that had not been given their royalties,” Wanyama said.
The MP said the Kenya Kwanza administration is committed to ensuring artistes to get their dues.
Also, Mr Wanyama acknowledged that the the copyright board needs changes, which will be engaged later.
“Mr Sigei has overstayed in the industry and has done more harm than good since his inception… there is every reason for either honourably for Sigei to ask for early retirement or basically for us to embark on the route to have him removed,” Wanyama said.
The records presented to the committee show that before Mr Sigei came to office in 2017, CMOs were collecting more that Sh350 million per year, compared to now where they hardly collect Sh50 million.
The committee members who spoke to journalists, including Yatta MP Robert Ngui and Matungulu MP Stephen Mule, assured artistes that their grievances will be addressed.
They also said Sh100 million that was given to cushion musicians last year by former President Uhuru Kenyatta will be probed.
MCSK Chief Executive Officer Dr Ezekiel Mutua called for the removal of Mr Sigei in order for artistes to benefit more.