Sauti Sol band

Members of the Sauti Sol band entertain guests at a Sol Fest concert in November.

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Big win for artistes in Sh8bn Skiza pay row

What you need to know:

  • Bill seeks to have artistes and creatives allotted 52 per cent of all revenue generated from ring-back tunes.
  • Currently, only 16 per cent of the proceeds go to artistes, while 25 per cent and 51 per cent go to KRA.

Only President Uhuru Kenyatta now stands in the way of performing artistes and creatives earning 52 per cent of proceeds generated from the ring-back tunes of their songs, after MPs passed the Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2021. 

The Bill, sponsored by Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga, sailed through the third reading on Wednesday evening, giving hope of better earnings to artistes should President Kenyatta sign it into law.

Supported by MPs from across the political divide, the Bill seeks to have artistes and creatives allotted 52 per cent of all revenue generated from ring-back tunes popularly known as Skiza tunes.

Currently, only 16 per cent of the proceeds go to artistes, while 25 per cent and 51 per cent go to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and mobile phone operators, respectively.

The annual gross revenue from the tunes is Sh7.58 billion. Artistes are now set to earn more than half of this amount. 

Further, the government issued a 10 per cent excise tax exemption on Skiza. Safaricom recently increased the Skiza tune charges from Sh1 to Sh1.50 a day.

Content infringement

The Bill also prohibits service providers from unveiling personal information on subscribers thought to be engaging in content infringement.

The Bill tends to cure this through establishing an online national portal for registration of copyright works. Once they register their works on the platform, artistes will receive proceeds from any persons who sample their works.

Ms Wanga yesterday thanked her colleagues for staying late throughout the debate of the Bill to ensure that artistes get a decent pay from their sweat.

“The paradox is whether our artistes get to earn what they deserve and this is what the Copyright Amendment Bill seeks to deal with. We need to put our artistes where they belong. This is going to be revolutionary for the creative industry and our artistes. Amendments like these will change the lives of our artistes,” Ms Wanga said.

“One of the major resources we have as a country is the creative industry. Our artiste spends a lot of time and energy to produce music that has won awards even on the international stage, but the paradox is whether our artiste earns from the music or creatives that they put outside there,” Ms Wanga added.

From hand to mouth

She pointed out that while an artiste projects a celebrity image while performing, many live from hand to mouth.

“There are those who claim outside there that they care for the common people, but they have not brought any legislation here. I want to thank President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga for standing with the artistes,” Ms Wanga said.

During public participation on the Bill, artistes who appeared before the committee supported the proposals, saying they have been frustrated in getting their payments from premium rate service providers.

Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo challenged allies of the Deputy President to also bring a Bill that supports the welfare of the common person.

“Why can’t they bring their own Bill if they indeed care for their hustlers? It is on the floor of the House where issues of hustlers are dealt with, not in rallies,” Ms Odhiambo said.

“The poor we represent are now going to get 52 per cent, courtesy of this Azimio Bill. That is what people who are pro-poor do. Not just coming to defeat government Bills then walk out,” she added.

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