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For the Fame…Think Again!

During my brief stint working at the Music Copyright Society of Kenya in the licensing department, I got a glimpse on why it is a tad bit difficult to get some of the major music consumers i.e broadcasters to pay royalties.

As famous as BeyonceI had the opportunity to speak and interact with a few administration staff in some of these broadcasting stations. Now, one thing that I discovered and found shocking is how artists are quick to sign away their creative rights. I got a whiff that an artist submitting a new single would be presented with a release form which states that the artist gives permission for their song to air for free in exchange for exposure. Why on earth do you want to do this to yourself? Fame is not that important if you are really in it because you have the talent and that you are passionate. Maybe I will not be judged harshly for noting how in such instances the swahili proverb “Kizuri cha jiuza kibaya cha jitembeza” applies. – A good thing needs not to parade itself.

Now Ms./ Mr. Artist why did you sign that release form? You do know it is a contract, right? A legally binding document. And guess what, you cannot plead ignorance. It may be bliss but it sure is not a defence in any court of law. When you realise that you just gave your cherished creation away on a silver platter, how do you plan to seek legal recourse? How do you dare claim that you have been robbed yet you are the one who robbed yourself? No gun was held to your head while you signed this alleged document, or was there? Yet, come time to collect royalties you want to see a cheque in your name!

I am yet to see a copy of this document myself but I believe I was given this information by accident because my efforts to get this document have been futile. So if you are reading this and you are party to such an agreement, please do contact me and come with a copy of this so called contract. However, I will say this, this document is viewed as a safety net by such guilty music users to refrain from paying royalties that they should as directed by MCSK. Through a document of this nature, you relinquished any rights you had to your creative works, and whom do you have to blame?

Once again, I am using the D word. Do not be desperate msanii (artist). You are throwing your talent and wasting yourself. Next time be advised before you sign a release form- that is what they call it- with a broadcasting station to gain quick fame and die hungry. Perhaps you do not know this. Broadcasters are in business because of you, because of your music. Why are you throwing it away for useless fame and an empty stomach? Ha! Free marketing and exposure? What bollocks!

Excuse my French but I need to be harsh. Like I said, the entertainment industry needs a revolution. For the musicians especially the upcoming ones, seek legal advice before you put a signature on anything. Seek legal consult before jeopardising your sweat. Take a copy of any document that purports to ‘protect’ your creative works or ‘market’ it. It will not hurt to ask that you sit on the document for your review before handing over your music.
How do you want to be helped if you relinquish your rights because you were desperate for fame? If it’s all for the fame…think again. Will you?


  • Charity

    Good Article! our artiste unfortunately operate i think on extra grace of Ignorance!! talent over fame… you are right… down right bollocks!.. shame on MCSK and shame on the Artists!

    January 24, 2013 at 11:27 am
  • Cate irungu

    good stuff .I hope artists are more enlightened now

    January 24, 2013 at 12:16 pm
  • mmnjug

    I think MCSK needs to start having outreach programmes to the artists……we can readily blame them for signing these contracts, but lack of information/advice and or ignorance graces the other side of this coin.

    Hope some will read this and spread it to their compatriots.

    January 25, 2013 at 9:18 am
  • Asali.

    I am definitely more enlightened and will share this with my fellow artists.
    Thank you for posting this Liz.

    January 26, 2013 at 10:30 am
  • Lusi393

    Just came across your blog and I must very interesting read, these are, and yes just like a [wise] land owner/buyer seeks counsel/advise from a conveyancer before disposing of/acquiring land, so should an artist seek legal advise before disposing of their intangible assets under this unscrupulous arrangements.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:19 pm