ZIMBABWEAN musicians, already reeling from the effects of piracy and poor show attendances due to the harsh economic conditions in the country, are getting a measly 20 cents for each song played on radio, a musicians’ union has revealed.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com in Harare Friday, Trade Union for the Music and Arts Industry (TUMAI) Secretary General, Maxwell Musaerenge, said they were not happy with the reduction of the royalties from as much as $5 during the era of former Information Minister, Professor Jonathan Moyo.
“During the Jonathan Moyo era, musicians were paid $5 for airplay but now Star FM and ZiFM Stereo are paying a measly 20 cents while ZBC is paying $1.80. How many times would an artist have been played to get to just a dollar,” he said.
Musaerenge said the two stations were claiming they could not pay the same rate as ZBC since the national broadcaster also got revenue from license fees while they did not collect such fees.
“We are not happy at all; we want to know why the reduction and why the disparities in fees” he said.
He said what was also worrying was that the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (ZIMURA) which collected the royalties on behalf of the artists, paid them off once a year when they collected the dues every day.
“At the end of the year when they finally pay you, you are told there is only $5 despite your song having played several times on different radio stations. Another problem is also that the ZBC still uses the manual log to determine the artists’ songs played,” he said.
“There are also general collections from bars, kombis and public performances, where you can’t exactly tell who plays what music and where and you still get some artists getting paid far much more than others. This should be shared equally among artists,” he said.
The TUMAI leader said ZIMURA was also in three months’ royalty payment arrears, noting that royalties for 2014 were being paid this year.
Royalty payment arrears
Musaerenga said the music rights body was also collecting royalties for musicians who were not its members and questioned where all this money was channeled to.
“The last time ZIMURA had a membership of almost 3000 but whether one is their member or not, they still get the money; where does it go?” he questioned.Advertisement
He also bemoaned the high membership fees being charged by ZIMURA, saying the $80 was too high for most musicians who now solely depended on airplay as they were struggling to stage live shows and sell their CD’s due to piracy.
Despite there being a ministry responsible for arts and culture, he said, there was no meaningful representation of artists in the country, who were getting poorer and poorer by the day.
“We don’t have anyone representing us, not even in parliament; there is no budget for the arts although we have a whole Ministry purporting to represent us,” he said.
ZIMURA Finance Officer, William Munanaire said although some stations were paying as little as 20 cents, the royalties depended on each agreement signed between the association and the particular radio station.
“What happens is we have agreements with individual radio stations and each have their own terms; it is not uniform. ZBC pays a percentage of their revenue from adverts while others pay based on airplay, such as StarFM which pays per song played,” he said.
He also admitted that they were in arrears but noted they were only one year behind, a situation he attributed to the 2008 period where Zimbabwe Dollar accounts were wiped away.
“We said despite the zerolisation of all accounts, we will still pay the artists and that is why we see ourselves a year behind in payments. At the beginning of the year we were paying for 2015 and from June we will be paying for 2016 royalties,” he said.
Munanaire also confirmed they were collecting royalties for non-members but was quick to point out that such artists also had the right to claim their royalties from the association.