Annual Agony: Artists decry Sh1,215 payment from PRISK

PRISK collects remuneration on behalf of rights holders from various users of works and distributes royalties

Singer Nikita Kering, entertainer KRG the Don and rapper Wangechi

Rapper Wangechi has taken to social media crying foul over how artists in Kenya are compensated.

Terming it as an 'extreme sport' Wangechi disclosed that she had received a total of Sh1,215 ($10) from the Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK) as the artist's annual royalties for the year 2021.

PRISK is a collective management organisation that collects remuneration on behalf of rights holders from various users of works and distributes royalties to the respective rights holders.

Kenyan artists have perennially complained about how much they receive from the government as royalties for the use of their copyrighted works.

Sensational singer Nikita Kering was also not left out from the peanut remuneration. She replied to Wangechi’s tweet with a screenshot of the dues she received from PRISK - an equal amount of Sh1,215.

Controversial rapper and flamboyant businessman KRG the Don, albeit sardonic, commented on the occurrence and addressed the government specifically, President Uhuru Kenyatta.

“We’ve now received money to the tunes of billions. Who wants a loan? The money we were waiting for is here. Our president we are so proud of you!” he stated.

P-unit member and Woodley (Kenyatta Golf Course Ward) MCA aspirant Gabu also shared a screengrab of the M-Pesa message he had received from PRISK.

“Surely what is this now? Are they even serious with us? Hii ni madharau sana (This is totally disrespectful). We want change, not pocket change,” Gabu stated.

In a 2020 letter addressed to President Uhuru Kenyatta, singer Otile Brown called upon the Head of State to intervene and ensure that officials at MCSK, PRISK AND KMAP face the full force of the law for stealing from artistes every year.

The singer’s statement came days after an audit report by Kenya Copyright Board (Kecobo) noted theft of artists’ money by the bodies put in charge of collecting royalties.

The forensic audit from 2017 to 2019 unearthed deep-rooted systemic inefficiencies such as; diversion of royalties, poor corporate governance structures, suspected fraudulent transactions, poor record-keeping, and the existence of ghost or duplicate members.

In 2019, Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) was on the spot following a meagre amount of Sh2,500 paid as royalties to artists.

In a series of posts that the organisation later deleted from Twitter, MCSK justified: "We have distributed royaties to all our members (13,967) general distribution. It's PPP (Performance in Public Places) this is collections from public places for only 2 months. Please note that we haven't received a dime from any broadcasters who exploit music."

In August 2021, Kecobo Board of Directors revoked the licenses of three collective management organisations - KAMP, PRISK and MCSK.

The Board, at its meeting on August 11, 2021 further took note of the recent distribution of royalties where the collective management organisations (CMOs) distributed Sh41 million (35.9%) instead of Sh79 million (70%) from Sh114 million collected at the end of July 2021.

It has become a trend where musicians receive low earnings despite putting in a lot of work and investing money to produce songs.

Some upcoming performers have now opted not to register their works with the bodies to avoid the near-insult pay they receive as royalties.

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