The Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) has pledged to oversee the consolidation of the three entities responsible for collecting royalties on behalf of Kenyan artistes, aiming for increased efficiency and improved sector management.

KECOBO Chairman Joshua Kutuny emphasized that the amalgamation of the three Collective Management Organizations (CMOs) would enhance efficiency and streamline the sector for the collective benefit of all artists.

He highlighted that the operational costs of the three CMOs, namely the Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP), the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), and the Performers Right Society of Kenya (PRISCK), are excessively high, resulting in a significant depletion of artistes’ earnings.

“There is a need to work from one front to be able to reduce the operation costs of CMOs, thus increasing returns to the artists and musicians,” said Kutuny when he met artists and musicians in Murang’a during a sensitisation forum.

Kutuny mentioned that a few years ago, royalty collection amounted to Sh650 million in 2019, but it dwindled to approximately Sh150 million last year.

He noted that effective management of the music industry is essential to ensure that royalties are collected from all music consumers and that the funds are directly allocated to the artistes.

“We are exploring various ways to see that the music industry is well managed, as there is also a proposal that the three bodies be collapsed into one organ so as to handle collections on behalf of the artists to help them celebrate their work,” said Kutuny.

He also explained that the inadequate coordination and management of CMOs have allowed individuals playing or consuming music in different areas to evade paying royalties.

“KECOBO seeks to partner with various entities, including county governments through the Council of Governors and the NTSA, among other bodies which issue licenses to businesses that consume music.

“This will ensure business people, especially those who operate restaurants, eateries, and public service vehicles, get KECOBO permits before they are issued with operating licenses. This will increase earnings for music to more than Sh 1 billion annually,” said the chairman.

Kutuny stated that the funds generated would be distributed among musicians and artists according to their performances.

The chairman also highlighted that KECOBO aims to establish a system where artistes receive payment directly from companies to prevent exploitation through intermediaries.

He described the current plight where certain musicians, despite the widespread playing and listening to their music, find themselves in poverty.

“We are also working towards developing automated systems that ensure artists can know how many subscribers and views they have and how much money they have made. I know of some artistes who have viral songs, but they don’t have anything to show for it. This is because some people are getting their money instead of them,” he said.

Kutuny additionally mentioned that in the past, CMOs faced accusations of employing forceful tactics, including involving the police, in the collection of royalties. He stated that they plan to change these methods to ensure effective royalty payments without resorting to force.

Addressing queries from the press, he explained that the increased income for artistes would enable them to invest in quality equipment and attire, contributing to production of high-quality music that can yield favorable returns.

KECOBO Executive Director Edward Sigei, on his part, urged artists to explore legal avenues to safeguard their work from potential abuse.

“When you sign a contract, make sure you read and understand the contents of the contract and have a copy with you. When in doubt, visit the Kenya Copyright Board offices and get free legal advice. Don’t give away rights to your work unknowingly,” Sigei insisted.

The director urged all artists to register as members of the Kenya Copyright Board, emphasizing that non-members would not receive assistance from the organization.