Hope for artistes as new deal on royalties is signed

RSAU representatives, Charles Kwitonda (from left), Tonzi, Epaphrodite Binamungu and Intore Tuyisenge with MTN CEO, Mitwa Kaemba Ng’ambi after signing the partnership. / Courtesy photos.

For nearly two decades, the music industry has grappled the idea of royalties.

Even with the copyright law stipulating that intellectual property must be given value already in place, implementation has been a challenge for artistes, that some have even gone as far as suing media outlets for using their products.

 

Artistes are now optimistic that their efforts to ensure that they get paid royalties whenever their products are used are starting to pay off. 

 

Partnership

 

The Rwanda Society of Authors on June 24 signed a partnership with telecommunications company, MTN Rwanda for payment of royalties to Rwandan artistes.

The partnership entails paying artistes every time their song is played on their MTN caller tune.

According to gospel singer Clementine Uwitonze, akaTonzi, who was among the representatives that signed the contract, the partnership is not only a good sign that the monetisation process for artiste’s products is clear, but will set an example for people to value their work.

MTN Rwanda’s CEO‭, ‬Mitwa Kaemba Ng’ambi and RSAU’S Kwitonda‭ (‬left‭) ‬signed a deal to pay artistes their roy-alties for caller tunes‭.‬

“People were not aware how royalty for the artistes’ works. With the partnership, every artiste with a song will be able to send it to MTN to be played and their royalties will be paid. Our sector is growing but artistes have been getting private partnerships with companies and some artistes are left out, with this step all artistes will get to benefit from their music in terms of monetisation but also promoting their songs,” she said.

Teta Mpyisi, who represented MTN Rwanda, said the partnership came as a way to support the creative industry.

“As a telecommunications company, it is our responsibility to support and improve opportunities with talented artistes as well as empower them to be better,” she said.

Creative industry hit

On his part, the CEO of RSAU, Charles Kwitonda, the partnership is timely as many artistes continue to grapple with the effects of Covid-19.

Artistes have been hit hard as most of them were earning mostly from premises like bars and concerts. It is only fair that companies support them in these difficult times,” he said.

He also added that although recording artistes are the only ones benefiting from this partnership, he is hopeful that other members like visual artists will also get a chance at other companies as they continue to push for the intellectual property rights law to be implemented.

“We started with musicians because many of them have had claims for a long time. As we continue to sensitise about the law and the need for artist’s work to be valued, other artists will eventually benefit,” Kwitonda said.

Enforcing the law

The journey to implementation is long as artistes and media houses also debate about whether royalties apply to them. He is, however, optimistic that if the concerned institutions continue to push, perhaps the law will be enforced.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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