Collecting societies and their role in the music industry

After the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) elections in 2015, mainstream musicians were left uncertain as to the future of the industry. This uncertainty was made evident of social media as seen by Nonini’s Facebook post which reads in part:

“It’s sad that we have the numbers to change things but when it comes time to vote urban artistes are too busy to come out. Thanking everyone who came out yesterday and proud of Lady B for trying to stand up for change. Congratulations to Walimu wa Jane, our new director Nairobi region”

Since the elections MCSK has been at the centre of legal battles, controversies and even allegations. One of the most recent of these legal battles occurred of the 16th of July 2016. Albert Gacheru, of the famous Mwendwa Wakwa Mariru, has been in court since 2004 over a copyright infringement case – he alleged that his colleagues pirated his work.

The High Court‘s Justice Isaac Lenaola has allowed Gacheru to privately prosecute his colleagues – Elija Mira, Muhiko Nebstar, his wife Joyce Muthoni and producer James Maina Munene.

This comes after a decision made by the magistrates court denying Gacheru, initally, to prosecute the musicians. This denial was unconstitutional.

As Gacheru did not show sufficient reason that would suggest an interference with the private prosecution he is allowed to be a witness in the case.

It is rare if not unheard of to have colleagues (from a company of MCSK’s stature) suing each other. It also decreases the public’s faith in the company to see that colleagues themselves do not respect each other nor their work.

MCSK was also being accused of not paying loyalties to their artists by the Kenyan group Elani. One of the tasks the music body is meant to oversee is the distribution of royalties for the airplay their music receives.

Last month they (MCSK) to reinforce the role they play in the Kenyan music industry by staging a peaceful demonstration alongside the Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) and Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK). The demonstration was held to deal with the exact issue being brought up by Elani – corruption in the industry.

The parties involved (MCSK, PRISK, KAMP) were pushing government officials to create a bill that would protect artists’ rights as well as their work from piracy.

It is evident that, even with all the recent allegations, MCSK is attempting to make a positive impact on the industry.





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