Kenya’s largest and oldest Collective Management Organization (CMO), the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) has said that it has entered a new era of openness and transparency with the first of five royalty distributions to its members.
According to MCSK, which will distribute Kshs 20 million for the period covering January 1, 2023 – December 31, 2023 in this quarter, long gone are the days of whining and crying among its membership due to low distributions despite heavy airplay by the media, the public transport and hospitality industry.
(TOP: From right to left – MCSK Chairman Lazarus Muli; Kirinyaga County Women Rep Njeri Maina; and a Kamba musician share a joke after presenting him with his royalty cheque).
“In 2024, we are looking forward to greater support from the government, better engagement with members and a new chapter of openness and transparency,” says Dr Ezekiel Mutua, the CEO, MCSK.
This society has further asked for greater collaboration with the Ministry of Interior to enable safer and better collections by its officers to users of its members’ music. According to MCSK, CMOs have the capacity to collect over Kshs 2 billion annually, a situation that can lead to better distribution to its members.
Further, the society expects better collections in the coming months after the introduction of new tariffs and the introduction of the black tape levy also referred to as the Remuneration for Private Copying which came into force in September 2023 and which a legal suit has since commenced. MCSK currently estimates that only about 15 percent of users are compliant.
“If the Minister for Interior gives us Police for enforcement we have billions to be collected out there with the media holding a substantial amount. Now add that to the hospitality and matatu industry and we can promise our members fat checks in the coming months,” says MCSK chairman Lazarus Muli.
Further, MCSK says its members will soon be able to monitor the performance of their works following the deployment of new technology which will also better a more scientific distribution as the society continues to use a combination of general and scientific contributions currently. Currently, the society says it is in the process of evaluation by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) which aims to protect the rights and promote the interests of creators worldwide, as it seeks to rejoin the global body.
In its latest disbursement, the society reports that it has paid its highest-grossing member Kshs 757,092 whilst the lowest paid member will receive an estimate of Kshs 5,000. In a change of tone, MCSK has lamented that international artists continue to gross higher than local artists asking the media and users of their music to play local music.
Members have also been encouraged to continue updating their works and catalogs regularly with the Secretariat as the board extends the current distribution period by two months to March 29, 2024, to enable its members to access their royalties.