Kenya: Music Society to track Broadcasters via new software

Regulation & Policy

The Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) has installed software that will track all songs played by broadcasters as it seeks to boost earnings of top artistes in a process that will hurt the income of upcoming musicians.

The move to implement the electronic log was reached by MCSK board members last week and will replace the use of manual logs submitted by the broadcasters ending the payment of a flat rate to musicians.

The move will see musicians paid royalties depending on the amount of air play they have received from the broadcasters, dealing a blow to artistes who are yet to establish themselves in a market where consumers tend to buy songs as mobile phone ringtones.

"There have been complaints from our members of unfair distribution of the collections and that is why we have invested in the software for accuracy purposes and changed the manner of distributing collections from broadcasters," said Mr Maurice Okoth, the MCSK chief executive.

"Only a third of our registered members get their music played on broadcasting stations.

It will be fair to pay these people from the collections although it is going to raise a storm, but that is the way forward."

MCSK collects royalties on behalf of 5,000 musicians who have been receiving Sh10,000 annually. But under the new regime only about 1,600 artistes will shares in the Sh20 million that the society targets from broadcasters.

Breach of regulations

However, top artistes earn an average of Sh100,000 monthly in royalties when other sources of collections such as fees generated from music played in matatus, entertainment spots, saloons, concert promoters, taxis, ring tones and cyber cafés is considered.

In the year to June 2010, they raised Sh13 million from broadcasting stations, up from Sh5 million in the previous year. The society charges broadcasters Sh216,000 per year on each radio frequency and televisions stations Sh72,000.

MCSK's total revenue stood at Sh185 million in the year to June 2010, up from Sh118 million a year earlier, while it's running expenses stood at Sh137 million -- a pointer that it paid musicians 25 per cent of its collections or Sh48 million, a figure that has invited the ire of artistes.

The high operating expenses are in breach of government regulations that allow it to limit operating costs to 30 per cent of the total collected revenue -- a failing that saw the state law office revoke MCSK collection license.