The big showbiz news of the week came from a rather unexpected source. Afropop group Elani released a video explaining their rather low profile in 2016. The group had had a superb 2014 consisting of a well-received debut album boasting a string of singles that got tonnes of airplay. However, after their year-end mega-concert, Elani began 2015 deep in debt. It was in this state of survival that the group decided to scrutinize the paltry Kshs. 31,000 they had received as royalties from the MCSK.
Elani further revealed that MCSK suspiciously paid them Kshs. 300,000 as “compensation” after the group confronted them with evidence contradicting the MCSK’s claim that some broadcast stations did not pay royalties as required. This has led to more questions than answers from the trio about the transparency and accountability standards of the collective management organization (CMO).
[one_third]“If what it takes for me to get ten times the amount of money that you gave me is for me to scare you in an office… if 300,000 is what you’re giving me after five days, tell me, how much is available? ”[/one_third][two_third_last]This, of course, is not the first time the MCSK has been held to task. Almost throughout it’s inception 25 years ago, the CMO has been characterized by all sorts of wrangles and artists’ complaints about royalties either not being payed at all or not coming close to the net revenue earned by the organization. The MCSK’s latest hurdle has been the freezing of their bank accounts pending a court case surrounding its handling of royalties. [/two_third_last]
Can the mounting pressure on the MCSK that has been re-invigorated by Elani’s video lead to a final push to solve the fundamental problems behind MCSK and other CMOs? Assessing the effectiveness of their music monitoring system, regular provision of log sheets to members, and examining whether the Kenya Copyright Board is adequately playing its role of supervising CMOs and other mechanisms of transparency and accountability are the most urgent issues that need addressing. On the other hand, are we slowly heading towards the worse option, another de-registration of the organization?
Gospel artist Rufftone has also added his voice to the debate with his own video.
Akothee Duets With Diamond
While #ElaniSpeaks gives an indication of how difficult it can be to break even, let alone make a profit as a musical artist in Kenya, it does not seem to be a problem Akothee will be dealing with anytime soon. She may or may not be the richest musical artist in Kenya at the moment and she may or may not be opinionated about nearly everything, but one thing is certain: she does not spare a penny when it comes to her music videos.
Her latest release, My Sweet Love featuring Tanzanian crooner Diamond, is firmly in Akothee territory. She plays an alpha female working two almost impossible jobs (for a blind person) and dating the perfect gentleman. Wouldn’t have expected anything less, really.