Collecting Societies Demand Whopping 170 Million Shillings from Leading Broadcasters in Copyright Infringement Suits

IP Kenya

This blogger has confirmed a recent media report that the two related rights collecting societies: Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) and Performers’ Rights Society of Kenya (PRiSK) have simultaneously taken five broadcasting organisations to court for infringement of copyright. The five identical suits HCCC No. 322, 323, 324, 325 & 326 of 2015 have been filed in the Commercial Division of the High Court against Royal Media Services (RMS), Nation Media Group (NMG), Standard Group (SG), MediaMax Network (MMN) and national broadcaster, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC).

PRiSK and KAMP claim that they are mandated to collect license fees on behalf of the performers and producers of sound recordings and duly notified the five broadcasters that it is under an obligation under Sections 27, 30A, 35(1)(a), 25 and 38(2) and 38(7) of the Copyright Act to pay licensing fees in respect of sound recordings and audio-visual works broadcast to the…

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Talented? Great! So is everybody else.

The Kenyan music industry has grown by leaps and bounds. Having listened to people who have been in this industry for more than 20 years, I am convinced there’s no comparison whatsoever.

It’s a lot easier to make music now, I dare say cheaper too. I once listened to Dr. Pete speak about his experience while getting his first tracks on CD circa ’96. It would cost him 16,000/= to only master and burn tracks on a CD(and no, this was not inclusive of studio fees and such); 2,000/= per track! Considering currency depreciation and inflation, burning CDs was definitely big business. Today with great software, knowing what you are doing, you can master your own music from a makeshift studio in your room and burn copies for distribution almost immediately.

We have witnessed a mushrooming of music academies, schools and a reviving of conservatoires in the recent past. We have super talented tutors in these schools and students with great potential. We have TV shows that bank on musical talent, the most notable being Tusker Project fame. Scores of people turn up for auditions, whether for shows or in schools. The lucky ones make it in, the not so lucky ones go back home and wait for the next time, others refuse to wait for opportunity to come knocking and run to meet it at the bus stop.

We have a lot of talented musicians in this country. All you have to do is show up for Karaoke somewhere or a concert and see. Great voices, great writing, amazing instrumentalists, you name it! I attend concerts and sometimes leave wondering why aren’t these guys the ones on radio??

I could be exaggerating but everyone is talented, they can sing and write, even play an instrument. Everyone can get media coverage. Take TPF for example, National TV for that long, broadcast over satellite to the rest of Africa. Do the math, how many of those contestants do you consistently hear of after the show? TV interviews have almost become common, every TV station is playing music videos….many music videos.

The music industry today is a great sea; most people doing the same thing fighting to get to the top of the charts, my question is, What differentiates you as a musician from everybody else?

The following are pointers that would have you on your way to a great career in music:

 

Sobriety.

 Starting a career in music has got to be more deliberate and calculated than it is emotional. You need to decide from the word go whether you will do music full time or as a side hustle. Decide for how long before you go full time and have pointers and milestones that will signal you when it’s about time.

Plan towards it. Put aside some money and learn some music business. Put together a team that not only identifies with your vision but also understands what they are doing, ins and outs of the industry. Set your foundations right.

The industry is a thankless black hole where money, sweat, blood and tears go at most times, a sober mind on why you got in in the first place will keep you going.

 

Refined Talent.

The quality of your writing, singing, rapping, playing and recording cannot be overemphasized. You don’t only produce quality music but also demand for quality. Branding, photography, videos, concerts you name it.

Talent is still the biggest component of your music career. Artistry, artistry, artistry! The reason for which we have music in the first place. Work hard and be diligent. This will set you apart.

Remain passionate, if you forget anything else in this post, remain passionate about your music. Passion is what will keep you going when your returns are ridiculous; when the fans don’t respond as you would want them to; it will cause you to remain in studio till to get something out of it.

Be consistent. Consistency in quality, values belief systems, relationships the whole nine yards. This will give you credibility, your fans can trust you and better still you catch the attention of the industry. You will in time get influence and the reality is, influence determines music careers success in the long run more often than talent does.

 

Be Shrewd.

This is what I call the ‘Gentle as a dove, Wise as a serpent’ rule. Know what works and what doesn’t. Know when to release an album and when to release a single. Listen to the fans. Know when to attack the systems and introduce something new.

Tact, strategy and the discipline of a soldier. A tough skin too will come in handy.

Get a fan base offline, at least 200 people (you do not know by name) within a 160km radius of your home town. Keep the online platforms active but don’t forget that real people live offline. People who will show up when you play in concerts. Play LIVE as often as you can before your home crowd. At the very least once a month. These are the people who will eventually make your dream to go on tour a reality.

Be real with yourself. This will help you see situations objectively. Don’t call booing fans haters…ok Kenyans rarely boo… don’t call a non responsive crowd haters, go back to the drawing board, reconfigure and bounce back.

Be your greatest promoter. I mean it. Don’t distribute music and start calling radio, TV presenters and DJs asking them whether they played your music. Listen in, tune in, encourage your fans to do the same and thank media personalities rather than pester them.

On the flip side, be your greatest critic, without taking it overboard of course.

 

 

I read a post last week: Why Won’t Africa Listen to Us? The author approached it from the media point of view. All the Western and South African music being played forcing Kenyan artists to adopt their beats due to pressure for airplay and in turn drowning the Kenyan style of music. I agree with him but artistes have a role to play too. Could it be we haven’t really worked on a Kenyan sound? I know we have an idea of what we currently call the Kenyan sound but is that the best we can do? You grab attention buy being different, a different kind of thinking and way doing things. Perhaps it’s time we changed some things.

The Kenyan audience is unfortunately not a hard one to please, you can judge by a good number of hit songs today. I advice to you though is to keep at it, show the Kenyan audience something different, then they can demand better. Give them reason to hunt you down and buy your music. I know that Kenyans don’t buy music but most times all that is needed is something different.

 

Again I ask: What differentiates you as a musician from everybody else? 

Exponential Potential Listening Party.

On 22nd April, 2014, the GoDown Arts Centre Nairobi was bustling with energy!! This was the venue chosen for Juliani’s Listening Party and the rustic feel of the place did his brand justice. All kinds of people were in attendance: Government Officials, Media Personalities, Artistes, Business People, Fans you name it. Yet again any doubts of Juliani’s influence were settled.

The programme started at around 1915hrs, with Dave Ojay, the MC. He started by calling one of the fans on stage who happened to be @iamsospaceship, a hiphop artiste!! He did a Juliani song from a previous album and walked away with a t-shirt and two tickets t the album launch (right here people is where you speak to him nicely).

Up next was Juliani who welcomed everyone. He talked a little bit about the inspiration behind this album. A going back to Adam, a restoration of who he and the greater human race was before sin came into the earth. A restoration of basic humanity. The purpose of the listening party was to give his fans a glimpse of the album and to celebrate his 30th birthday. You only turn 30 once! He also mentioned that the album would be available in Orange Shops from 5th June, 2014 with a discount if you buy using orange money. He then invited people to listen to the first six songs of his album. [I will try not turn this into an album review. 🙂 ]

First off was One Day, Jehovah, Master Piece, Do Me That For, Move and Morio and Juliet. At this point people listened; bopped their heads a little; laughed at clever wordplay a bit too late sometimes; scribbled a little; took selfies and cheered, clapped, screamed…the works.

Juliani was back on stage! This time he spoke about his journey and products under his brand and you could tell that he knows what he is about, what he wants out of life and where he wants to go. He invited us once more to listen to the remaining four songs. Exponential Potential actually has fourteen songs and we were left wondering ‘if this is what ten songs already sound like, what surprises were left in store for us?’

Butterfly, MH370, Pararira and Samaki followed in succession. The crowd was impressed!

Juliani stepped on stage at the end of that session. He gave his vote of thanks and while at it received a surprise call from his grandmother, those aaaw type of calls. He said his agenda has been to figure how he can give more than he receives and how he can give more than expected. He said that he believes he’s the luckiest artist and himself and his music is all he has to give. He acknowledged key people in his life and Jefro of Madlove led the closing prayer.

Soon after there was cake and a lot of photos and loud music and a very happy crowd. Master Piece, Jehovah, One Day and Morio and Juliet got a lot of love from the crowd. I think Pararira is one of those anthem songs and Master Piece will be a big song.

The listening party was organized by Mary Njoki of Glasshouse.

I look forward to getting the album!

 

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Heaven Scooped Up A Saint…

You used to make us laugh all the time acting crazy you always spoke your mind
I know that you’re with Christ and i feel you left early, everybody has their time
I never will forget your smile the freestyle and the gifts that you possessed
God was tired of waiting to bring you home so He came to relieve you of your strength

(Cam, Heaven Scooped Up a Saint, off the album, The Platform)

Continue reading “Heaven Scooped Up A Saint…”

Songwriters’ Lounge: 2nd Edition: The Review!

I attended my first Songwriters’ Lounge this past Saturday at the Creatives Garage, GreenHouse Mall. They opened the doors at 1830hrs and was meant to start at 1900hrs but kicked off at 1931hrs because of some of us who didn’t keep time(I got there at around 1920hrs). Continue reading “Songwriters’ Lounge: 2nd Edition: The Review!”

Demystifying iTunes, Waabeh and Mdundo: The Musician.

Three weeks ago I did a post for the listener where I tried to make digital music shopping simpler. Today I do one for the musician. Every time you release a record, it is advisable to make it available online either as a free download or on sale. A Youtube video with the song art as the background is not enough in my opinion. I’ll begin with the less complicated option and eventually the more complicated ones.

Continue reading “Demystifying iTunes, Waabeh and Mdundo: The Musician.”

Demystifying iTunes, Waabeh and Mdundo: The Listener.

Last week I went on a rant about music piracy in Kenya and partly attributed it to inaccessibility. The next two posts will seek to help the listener know where and how to easily purchase music and help the musician know how to make their music accessible. Continue reading “Demystifying iTunes, Waabeh and Mdundo: The Listener.”

Record Sales In Kenya: A Goldmine or a Landfill?

I came across an article the other day. A prominent Kenyan musician was being interviewed and the question, when we should expect an album from him was asked. His answer was one I’m sure many Kenyan artists can relate to. He said he’d release an album the day the government did something about piracy. He made it clear that an album was not in his near future plans. Honestly, I was not shocked. Putting together an album in the industry’s current state is not something I often advise artists to do. Continue reading “Record Sales In Kenya: A Goldmine or a Landfill?”