Blame game between artistes and airplay collection agency

Monday June 1 2020

Artists Herbert Rock and Mani Martin on stage.

Artists Herbert Rock and Mani Martin on stage. There is a culture of airing artists work, but payments are hard to come by. That is what is informing the discussion with RSAU. PHOTO ~ FILE  

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With the creative industry ravaged by the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Rwandan artists are questioning Rwanda Society Authors’ Union (RSAU)’s presence and its role as collector of artists’ royalties

Clement Ishimwe, an audio producer and manager of Kina Music, an artist management label says the policies and laws are well meant but clearly there is a problem of implementation.

“If an artiste’s airplay is high, so should the royalties collected and delivered, but this isn’t the case,” he adds.

Since its enactment in October 2009, the Intellectual Property and Copyright law has faced with various challenges.

 Established in 2010, in line with the activation of the law, RSAU came into operations in 2013 after reaching into collaboration with RDB and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

It has since then embarked on sensitisation campaigns and collecting royalties.


In November 2019, RSAU distributed approximately RFW10 million ($10,684) of royalties to 84 artists.

Lack of stronger systems to monitor and track content being aired via broadcast media is responsible for the imbalances in the unproportional payment according to Mr Ishimwe.

To Eric Kirenga, an artists events, organizer and entrepreneur, implementation of the Copyright and IP laws is ‘fake hope’, adding that: “We have been fighting for it for the last nine years, but not much we see being done,” he explains.


Yvan Burabyo alias Yvan Buravan, an Afro R&B musician says the law can barely be implemented smoothly unless everybody is on board, “It is something that artists, society and media all need to understand,” he explains, “I’ve heard of RSAU’s e  orts in this, and I think they need to do more,” he urges.

“This period should be a wakeup call to all the creatives and those in charge of the of the Copyright Law’s implementation, so we artists will earn some money from every single use of our works in absence of performances,” says Man Martin, an Afro traditional musician.

Charles Kwitonda, RSAU’s chief executive affirms how there is still a lot of ignorance among some artists on RSAU’s existence and operations.

Mr Kwitonda thinks society hasn’t yet embraced the culture of payment of royalties, but more efforts are being made in awareness, “We are using other platforms like social media, print media and websites, since unlike before, today Rwandans take some e  ort to read news,” he added.