Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Penalties for Royalty Defaulters

On December 29, 2009, Lawrence Mbenjere set a new record when he became the first musician to cart home money in excess of over K2.5 million in royalties.
Whether this is the vote of approval of what he is churning out by the consumers or there are other factors that did not pan out truly, is not for me to contend. Based on this, whatever musician radio stations come up with as the best of 2009, but the royalties spoke more with emphasis and at that, Lawrence Mbenjere is the man!
What was also historical was the fact that since the establishment of the Copyright Society of Malawi (COSOMA) 15 or 17 years ago, K2, 523, 459.16 is the biggest money it has dished out to a single musician.
For interest’s sake Lucious Banda carted home K1, 094, 579.10, Thomas Chibade K712, 742.48. Joseph Nkasa who in 2003 got a million got K597, 942.27 this time round.
Explanation by COSOMA Public Relations Officer Rosario Kamanga was that for Mbenjere to get this kind of money, accumulatively he amassed K2.35 million from Mechanical Royalties that an artist receives after they record with a record company.
On the other hand, K103, 000 Mbenjere earned from broadcasting royalties that comes from air play of an artist’s music by a radio or TV station. He also amassed a meagre K66, 000 from Public Performance Royalties unbelievably, this is the money that is earned when the artist’s music is played in public places like bars, hotels etc.
Why I am saying unbelievable is because I doubt COSOMA’s capacity to ably manage the collection of money from all public places where music is played. I remember to have argued on these very pages that no COSOMA official ever visited most bars on how this is done and therefore music played there is never profiting the artists who performed them.
There is no way; a bill for institutions like radio can beat that of public places. This is what I find sticky with the management of the Public Performance Royalties.
Now on Broadcasting Royalties, while acting Executive Director for COSOMA Dora Makwinja decries shameless tendency by MBC, Star Radio and TVM that love to eat their cakes and have them as they play the music free, the pen wants to drum out its disgust as well without stint or limit...
As rightly put by Minister of Tourism and Culture Anna Kachikho, the musicians would have received more money had these institutions paid what is due to Ceaser. For example MBC has around K8 million it owes COSOMA in royalties, imagine if this money had been handed over to who it is due.
Underline the word diligent...This is how COSOMA described Zodiak Broadcasting Station in as far as paying these royalties is concerned which COSOMA acknowledges has offered great support to artists.
It beats all forms of imagination, that big institutions like MBC and TVM which are state owned, meaning they operate using my tax and have room where they make a lot of money through advertising, can play second fiddle to Zodiak...they are not even second fiddle because they do not pay anything.
Going by what Kachikho and Makwinja had said it is clear that there are no measures that can be taken to punish these institutions for their desire to operate at the expense of our local musicians who struggle to make ends meet.
Imagine if the body that represents the musicians bans playing of local music on the radio stations that are defaulting paying their royalties. Would they draw any attention at all?
What this utter disregard for local effort by our musicians as demonstrated by TVM, MBC and Star Radio means is that those at the helm of managing these institutions do not appreciate what is involved to produce music.
While I am to believe if the good man of God at Star Radio or Bright Malopa or Chimwemwe Banda at TVM would tell me they thought the musicians lose nothing to come up with whatever their institutions broadcast [some of which even put in musical chart programmes] I will not hear out Patrick Khoza at MBC.
Patrick Khoza is one of the first people we have to respect highly for establishing a recording studio called Studio K, before Yimbirani Yahweh studio in Balaka. Khoza knows what is involved to have a final product from the musician. It is a surprise therefore that instead of championing the promotion of musicians by honouring their royalties, he is in the forefront destroying them.
Please I thought it is so easy, if you do not have lemons do not desire lemonade, the same with MBC, TVM and Star radio, if you do not have money for royalties please do not play the music!

Feedback: drummingpen@columinist.com

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