Elani versus MCSK: Ways artists can ensure they get their money


By now, I believe you must have watched the video doing rounds on social media about the feud that ensued between celebrated band, Elani, and the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK). Following the release of the video on YouTube where the band complains about getting dues that do not match their success in 2014, other artists have come out to question the transparency and accountability of MCSK. Rufftone yesterday came out to talk about MCSK and how artists are being exploited.

Elani says music is a career like any other and that’s where the members get their income. Although many artists are seen to lead flashy lives, the unfortunate reality is that some have sunk in debts to remain afloat musically. The grievances aired by Elani points to the unfair treatment artists get at MCSK. Musicians who have registered with MCSK are entitled to dues collected as a result of the airplay their music get from media houses, clubs, events among other areas.

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Despite all these challenges, there are avenues musicians can ensure they get the money they have worked hard for. Some of these ways are listed below.

Get a lawyer

Many musicians are not aware of the finer details of copyright laws, what record label they should be signed to and the people who will be in charge of their music distribution and how to handle feuds. A lawyer talks on behalf of the musicians in case of breaching a contract and all other legal matters. But you can still find out this information from the internet or books if you can’t afford a lawyer, because how many people can afford lawyer’s fees?

Have a supportive record label

A record label does more than just sign an artist. The artist should take time to learn of the successes of the record label that offers them a contract. This label should be able to promote the artists’ work, push the music to the fans and not fleece the artists of their fair share of income.

Avail music where it can make money

Technological advancement has given to artists platforms where they can be able to sell their music directly or make money from advertising. One of these platforms is YouTube where artists can avail their music for their fans. Although this avenue doesn’t generate 100% income for the artists, adverts placed on their YouTube channel generate income part of which is paid to the musicians. There are sites where artists can sell their music and get proceeds directly without going through MCSK.

Have more live performances

It can be frustrating for musicians when bodies such as MCSK are not transparent and the musicians are unable follow up on the airplay their music got. A guaranteed way of getting better dues is by staging live performances where fans pay to attend. The organizers then pay for the performances.

Register your music

When an artist comes up with a song, they hold the belief that it’s going to be accepted by the fans and become a hit. At that point of thought, the artist should ensure their music is registered with a copyright office so as to get royalties on that song. For instance, this music could be used as a track in a film and the artist should get his due.

This is not an exhaustive list on what they artists can do to have a fair share of their royalties. There is loads of information and as an artist, take time to learn how copyright works. Organizations like G0-Down arts center are always having trainings for artists on copyright, royalties and how artists can make the most of their talents.

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I am an upcoming creative writer and pencil artist who has passion for anything art. I like travelling and meeting new people. I am currently pursuing commerce, finance major at the university of Nairobi. Through my writing, I hope to impact in the lives of people. I run my blog at www.mwauramswati.wordpress.com