How new platform will help artistes earn from their work, grow fan base

For many artistes in developing countries, the biggest dilemma remains earning from their work or intellectual property.

With payment on royalties and copyright on usage of intellectual property still a pipeline dream, most artistes look to concerts on special events to earn directly from their work.


However, a new initiative that is taking shape in Rwanda will see artistes continuously earn from their work through quarterly awards where the best voted artistes will be walking away with accolades and a cash prize of Rwf2m.


The platform, Muzika Nyarwanda Ipande (MNI) has come up with a concept to award winners after every three months. The most recent MNI award ceremony for the second quarter of 2020 took place over the weekend in an event which happened live on Rwanda TV.


The platform enables local musicians to earn from their music as fans vote for their favourite songs. The more an artist is voted, the more money they earn.

The MNI Selection Awards are given to the top three songs on the MNI Selection Music Chart every 3 months.

The second quarter of MNI was won by gospel singer Clementine ‘Tonzi’ Uwitonze, after her song “Hejuru Ya Byose” became the most voted.

Marie-Claire Uwineza emerged the second runner-up for her song, “Umunyenga w’intsinzi”, and Dady Niyigena, alias Bryan Lead scooped 3rd place with his song, “Open my Eyes”. The winners walk away with awards and were given dummy cheques and other goodies.

Tonzi (pictured) took home the cash prize of Rwf2m, Mutimawurugo Rwf700,000 and Brian Lead Rwf300,000, while each of them received Tecno Camon Spark 5, courtesy of Tecno Rwanda.

Bernard Gatabazi, the representative of Rwanda Academy of Language and Culture (RALC), commended the founders of the MNI platform, pointing out that RALC accepted to support the initiative because they realised it works in the interest of the music industry.

Jean-Christian Ndikubwayo, Scott Gaga Butera and Denis Rwema, who are the brains behind MNI, say that the initiative has become possible through the sponsorship of RALC and Tecno Mobile Rwanda who have continuously shown their support for the arts industry.

How does it work?

“MNI Selection rates songs based on how music fans vote for them at a cost of only Rwf50, charged by mobile money or credit or debit card, and 60 percent of that goes to the owner of the song after the collection fee and withholding tax. A fan can vote as many times as possible. So far, this is the only platform in Rwanda that allows fans to support their artists directly,” said Butera.

“The MNI mission is to create opportunities for Rwandan artists by providing them with adequate income (royalties), promote their artistic works and brands and enhance the quality of their artistic works. MNI is launching two more internet services called MNI Broadcast and MNI Fund,” states Butera.

He explained that MNI Broadcast is a playlist program that entertains visitors to the MNI website and keeps them connected to Rwandan music. Every day has a particular playlist and people will post how they feel about the playlist and answer some general skills questions asked to win different prizes,” he added.

Ndikubwayo added that the MNI Fund is a crowdfunding technology that enables Music Stakeholders to raise money for their activities, such as concerts, music production, and other general-purpose funding, once they face challenges in raising funds to do so.

Both services will be available beginning July 1, 2020 with the renovated website which is more user friendly, he says.

On his part, Rwema, who has been in the showbiz industry, stresses that MNI has over 100 signed up musicians since it began operations on October 7, 2019, and is opening gates to other Music stakeholders to have their profiles on the new website where anyone who wants to know their activities can reach out to them through the website.

The first quarter of MNI music awards started in October last year, and winners were awarded in January this year.

Tonzi, Q2 first MNI Selection Award winner on RTV.

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