Safaricom has released Kshs 152 million to Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) and Premium Rate Service Providers (PRSPs), for payment to artistes whose music is sold through the company’s music platform – Skiza Tunes.
Thousands of artistes are expected to benefit from the royalties, which have been accumulating since July 2015.
The money was released following the conclusion of a court case filed at a Malindi court, with CMOs receiving Kshs 141.675 million while the PRSPs received Kshs 10.3 million.
Each of the three CMOs has received about Kshs 47.225 million, which will be distributed to singers, songwriters, sound engineers, performers and music producers who have earned royalties from Skiza tunes.
“Last month we said that we were ready and willing to pay the money owed to the artists as soon as we received the go-ahead from the court, and that is exactly what we have done,” said Stephen Chege, the Director of Corporate Affairs at Safaricom.
“We are committed to supporting local music talent and giving musicians a platform to sell their music to the millions of subscribers registered on the Safaricom network, and in that way transform the lives of our artistes by providing another avenue for them to generate an income from their work,” he added.
Skiza Tunes was designed to provide structures that would ensure that artists, composers and music producers among others are compensated for their work, and today supports over 5,000 artistes who have registered 11,000 songs on the platform.
In August 2015 Safaricom entered into an agreement with the three CMOs – Music Copyright Society of Kenya, Kenya Association of Music Producers and Performers’ Rights Society of Kenya – allowing for payment of royalties to the artistes through their respective CMOs, as opposed to the funds first being channeled through the PRSPS.
However, soon after that, a section of artistes filed a case at the High Court in Nairobi seeking to compel Safaricom to pay them through the PRSPs and not the CMOS, causing the funds to be held until the determination of the case.
In January 2016, Safaricom brought the stakeholders together in an effort to resolve the stalemate, but before the agreed payments could be disbursed another case was filed at the Malindi Law Courts barring Safaricom from paying any royalties to artistes either directly or through the PRSPs or CMOs.
“Our interest is in supporting Kenya’s music industry, and we are ready to work with various stakeholders to do this so that those who have chosen a career in music can make an honest living from it,” said Chege. “Our wish is to see more transparency and accountability in the industry because this is the only way it can grow, and the only way it can produce and attract more talent.”
The partnership agreement between Safaricom, CMOs and PRSPs was signed in accordance with the Copyrights Act 2012, which requires content providers to pay artists through registered CMOs who are mandated by the law to collect license fees and distribute royalties.