Safaricom has this week paid out a total of Kshs. 152 million to Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) and Premium Rate Service Providers (PRSPs). The payment was finally made after several court cases were concluded.

The first court case was filed at the High Court in Nairobi by artistes in August last year soon after Safaricom had entered into an agreement with the three CMOs that is Music Copyright Society of Kenya, Kenya Association of Music Producers and Performers Rights Society of Kenya. This agreement would have allowed for the payment of royalties to artistes through their respective CMOs as opposed to the earlier practice of the funds first being channeled through the PRSPs.

In January 2016 Safaricom made an effort to bring all the stakeholders together in an effort to resolve the stalemate. However, before the agreed funds could be disbursed, another court case was filed at the Malindi Law Courts barring Safaricom from paying the artistes either through PRSPs or CMOs.

With the release of the funds, thousands of artistes are expected to benefit from the royalties which have been accumulating since July 2015. Of the monies paid CMOs received Kshs.141.675 million while PRSPs received Kshs.10.3 million. Each of the three CMOs has received about Kshs.47.225 million to be distributed to singers, songwriters, sound engineers, performers and music producers.

Stephen Chege, the Director of Corporate Affairs at Safaricom had this to say, “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.”

Skiza Tunes from which the artistes earn royalties 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.

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.

It is our hope that the issues raised by artistes about the CMOs earlier in the year were finally resolved so as to ensure the growth of an industry which has a lot of potential.