Singing the blues over royaltiesLeroy Dzenga
Harare – South Africa and Zimbabwe may be neighbours, but they are worlds apart when it comes to how they handle music copyright issues.
In South Africa, artists are set for a windfall after their revenue collector, the Southern African Music Revenue Organisation, recently penned a contract with video format social network Tik Tok, to ensure that every song played embedded with a video will be paid for.
The deal, which was brokered by the Composers Authors and Publishers Association was announced in a statement by Capasso.
“We are happy to have reached an agreement with TikTok in order to ensure that pan African songwriters are taken care of on the platform,” says Wiseman Ngubo, Capasso’s chief operations officer.
“With the increasing spotlight on African music, more African songwriters are poised to reach global superstar status and TikTok will play a major role in showcasing their talents to the world,” Ngubo added.
For artists to enjoy this facility, they should be affiliated to both entities.
Popular music is used in viral Tik Tok challenges and can sometimes reach more than one million plays as is in the case of Master KG`s monster hit Jerusalem.
Northwards of South Africa, in Zimbabwe, the case is different as artists are at loggerheads with the sole music revenue collector, the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association, over unremitted royalties.
DJ Levels, part of one of the leading music collective Chillspot, says he has not yet received royalties despite venturing into music in 2011 and producing more than 100 popular songs.
“Zimura goes to radio stations, bars, hotels and everyplace which plays local music to collect royalties on behalf of everyone – those who are registered with them and those not registered with them. But when we ask for our money they say you should register with them and they forget they took money without the artist’s permission. They have been doing for the longest time for me it`s from 2011 until now I have not had a single cent,” DJ Levels fumed.
“Zimura did not take the claims lightly arguing that the producer had misrepresented issues.It has come to ZIMURA’s attention that Levels – ChillSpot and the General Public may not be aware of ZIMURA operations and have misconceptions that for one to get their royalties for airplay, they have to be a member of The Zimbabwe Music Rights Association and that is incorrect,” Zimura said in a statement.
The debate has reignited conversation on copyrights in Zimbabwe, with artists crying foul over the revenue collector which is failing to move on with the times in the digital era.
During a recent virtual conversation, Zimura copyright administrator Climate Munikwa failed to clarify how they intend to ensure artists get their sweat`s worth from proliferating online platforms.
This exposed a big gap between Zimura and their South African counterparts.
Zimbabwean sungura star Mark Ngwazi is among the most played Zimbabwean artists on Tik Tok, but because the local revenue collector does not have mechanisms to pursue royalties on his behalf, his fortune will remain an object of theory.