Musicians push for payment of royalties to cushion them against loss of income from suspended physical events

Wednesday January 26 2022

Artistes have been depending on live performances to earn a living. PHOTO | FILE


Artists are waging war against the media to push for payments of royalties in the wake
of a ban on physical events that has left them with no source of income.

The government last month suspended physical events to contain surge in Covid-19 that had threatened the gains the country had made over the past two years.

This, however, has hit the pockets of artists hard, forcing them to turn to other possible ways of earning a living from their sweat. And the artists are not looking far to make ends meet with their eyes trained on the media, which they accused of lavishing from proceeds of their hard work.

Alyn Sano, an Afro R&B and Pop rising musician recently sparked a social media buzz when she wondered how Artists are to survive in absence of physical events.

"Some people think how keeping quiet will protect their names, but this issue affects us all whether you speak or keep quiet, " she told Rwanda Today.

In September 2021, the government had lifted the ban to events since March 2020,
leading a flurry of live events as creative industry once again became vibrant.


"When concerts are gone it doesn't mean that our lives are gone as artists," states
Kivumbi King, a Poet, Afro-Fusion, and Rap Artist.

Although radio and television stations remain the main source of music, artists are concerned that royalties are not being paid like in other countries.

Afro-R&B and fusion artistes Martin Maniruta alias Mani Martin is one of the few artists who have in the past years sparked a campaign urging media houses to pay for royalties. But this set up against influential media houses that decide to punish him by not playing his music. 

“They majorly live o our works, which they don’t admit, ” he stated during the Copyright Friendly Rwanda Conference in December last year.

Kivumbi agrees to this saying, “People tune in to radio and television because of the songs or films they play ,” he states

Kivumbi too has faced a backlash in raising the matter of artists’ royalties too, “I have told by people, even fellow established artists who what I am saying is scary, but why should it be so,” he adds.

"We really ought to think of other ways of making money, beyond what used to be," Sano cautions.

Jean de Dieu Turinimana, the Rwanda Society Authors Union chief executive said media houses are resistant to discussion on royalties. 

“Many media managers are copyright literate,” he said, “We have met with media managers many times, we have been flexible to facilitate media houses on how they can pay copyright royalties, but not much has been attained,” he adds. 

In 2020, Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority, Rwanda Development Board, and RSAU wrote to broadcast media houses reminding them to comply with the law on Intellectual property.