Artists are complaining of being mistreated and shortchanged by events organisers whom they describe variously as disrespectful and non-committal on contracts.
At the recent Rwanda Rebirth Celebration Concert, for example, Kenny Sol went away complaining of his contract not being honoured.
In a statement released by the artist through his management label Spectacular, he pointed an accusing finger at the event’s organisers, East Gold Company Ltd.
Unfortunate as it is, this is not new to Kenny Sol. On June 25, he performed at the Chop Life Concert organised by Intore Entertainment but he was not paid until after an outcry.
Rapper Ish Kevin recently bowed out of the Nyega Nyega Fest, a music event that took place in Musanze District, saying – without divulging further details - the organisers had failed to honour the contract.
Juno Kizigenza, an artist under Huha Record Management, says artists are exploited. But Bernard Niyibizi alias Nando, Huha Record’s managing director, throws the ball back to the artists: “It’s up to the musician’s team to negotiate,” he adds.
“Most upcoming musicians are desperate and will take any offer without much thought since Rwanda still has very few events,” Martin Kasirye, an MC, and radio host explains, adding “Musicians should deal with their management, not event organizers, to avoid any confusion.”
“Most artists barely know how to handle or negotiate contracts, so they need a legal mediator who holds their interests at heart,” urges Patrick Mivumbi, a cultural entrepreneur.
According to Collin Mugabo, manager of Spectacular, a series of events has seen Rwandan artists disrespected.
“They are not treated as well as guest artists,” he said, adding that international musicians are kept out of reach of local performers.
“It should be an open networking opportunity to also benefit our musicians too,” he urges.
Bruce Intore of Intore Entertainment admits event organisers can do better.
“The industry is growing and challenges such as finances are huge,” said Intore.
“The sector should realise we are one and ought to work together,” advises Judo Kanobana, an administrator at Positive Production, an event organising and production Company.
“If a fellow event organiser fails, this affects me too since trust in all of us is lost, so we need to focus on even correcting the little faults,” he adds.
But Prudence Uwabakurikiza, the Rwanda Art Council (RAC) executive director is rooting for professionalism and the right channels.
“Queries would easily be addressed if they were presented to the Rwanda Music Federation, which oversees musician’s a airs,” she said.
According to Uwabakurikiza, some of these challenges would be history but “most artists faced by these issues aren’t yet registered as members under their respective federations of unions,” he adds.
According to the 2014 Artists Mapping report by the then Rwanda Academy of Languages and Culture, Rwanda had12,000 registered artists, 3,500 of whom were musicians.