Music producers and performers including guitarists, drummists and dancers will start getting equal remuneration from television and radio royalties, if proposed changes in the copyright laws are passed.
This will be the first time that dancers, guitarists and other instrumentalists will start earning royalties from their talents and from the works that they participate in.
While proposing the new laws, Attorney-General Githu Muigai has factored in the rise of public performances and use of video recordings by local musicians and producers without remunerating back-up artistes.
Previously, the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) collected royalties on behalf of composers and singers and left out the bulk of producers and acoustic players.
“(The new law will) put Kenya at par with international best practice and introduce this right which I would say is an advantage to all users of music as they can now play what they want to play without any restrictions as before,” says Angela Ndambuki, the chief executive officer at the Performers Rights Society of Kenya.
The proposed amendments will now provide the producers and performers with a legal backing to engage their respective management organisations — the Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) and the performers’ society — to collect royalties on their behalf.
“The equitable remuneration right is actually not about KAMP and the performers society but about the producers and performers as a whole,” said Ms Ndambuki.
Previously, producers and performers have not been benefiting from the royalties collected from radio or TV stations due to lack of a legal backing and disagreement among the associations charged with the collections.
Prof Muigai has proposed amendments to the Kenya Copyright Act 2001 (No 12 of 2001) by inserting a new clause (30A) which now gives music producers the right to claim and equitably share remuneration for sound recordings and visual works among themselves.
This means that radio and television stations or any other music users — such as restaurants and bars — will now have to pay producers or performers of a particular music separately and on an agreed equitable ration.
“If a sound recording is published for commercial purposes or a reproduction of such recording is used directly for broadcast or other communication to the public performed, a single equitable remuneration for the performer and the producer of the sound recording shall be paid by the user through their respective collecting management organisation,” said Prof Muigai in the latest Kenya Gazette Supplement.
The move is also set to eliminate the need by broadcasters to seek permission - as has been the case - before using the music on CDs.
Ms Ndambuki said the broadcasting tariffs will depend on what classification the broadcaster falls under.
There are different rates for community broadcasters, private and public entities based on whether the music is used for commercial or non-commercial purposes. The rates range from Sh15,000 to Sh 150,000 per month.
Other than KAMP and the performers society, the Copyright Act section 46 has also given MCSK the right to collect copyright royalties on behalf of music composers from radio and television stations among other users.
MCSK that has been active in collecting the royalties but Ms Ndambuki said KAMP and PRSK have now signed a Memorandum of Understanding between themselves that will see them jointly collect the royalties.
“We had signed an agreement with MCSK to jointly collect the royalties but there was a disagreement; now we will be doing it jointly with KAMP to eliminate sending three different categories of invoices to the music users,” said Ms Ndambuki.
In 2011, MCSK unveiled a software that tracks all songs played by broadcasters in a move it said was aimed at boosting earnings of top artistes although there was a risk that this would hurt the income of upcoming musicians.
The electronic log replaced the use of manual logs submitted by broadcasters, ending the payment of a flat rate to musicians.
Under the electronic system, musicians are paid royalties depending on the amount of air play they have received from broadcasters, dealing a blow to artistes who are yet to establish themselves in a market where consumers rarely buy songs.
MCSK collects royalties on behalf of 6,000 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.