The Achilles heel for local musicians has been payment of royalties for their music. We are used to perennial complains by musicians that they are not earning enough from their craft. Safaricom has been one of the major contributors of royalties for local musicians through their Skiza ringback service. By dialing *811#, a Safaricom subscriber is able to both search and download their favorite songs straight to their Safaricom lines. Callers are then able to listen to this music when making calls to these subscribers.
Safaricom which introduced the service in 2008, charges 75 cents for the Skiza tunes daily. Safaricom then pays royalties to the musicians based on how many times their music has been used for the ring back service.
For having their music used on the service, Safaricom for the longest time paid the musicians 7.5% in royalties. The telco announced last year it was increasing royalties to 15%, then 17% in 2016 and 20% in 2017. The review followed an agreement between Safaricom and various bodies such as Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK.), Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK) and Kenya Association of Music Producers (Kamp).
With the new deal, Safaricom would pay the royalties monthly unlike previously when they paid every three months. The royalties were also to be paid directly to the three bodies unlike previously where Safaricom signed content provision agreements with companies licensed by MCSK.
Safaricom has now released Kshs 152 Million to the three organizations and Premium Rate Service Providers (PRSPs) for music played via the service which had accumulated from July 2015. The three will receive Kshs 141.675 million while the PRSPs received Kshs 10.3 million for distribution to to singers, songwriters, sound engineers, performers and music producers.
The platform has 5,000 registered artistes who have registered 11,000 songs on the platform.