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Musicians optimistic… as Zimura intensifies revenue collection

By Godwin Muzari The Zimbabwe Music Rights Association is putting in place a system to monitor playlists on all radio and television statio...

By Godwin Muzari
The Zimbabwe Music Rights Association is putting in place a system to monitor playlists on all radio and television stations in the country to ensure transparency in collection of annual airplay royalties for musicians.

Zimura currently depends on log sheets from radio and television stations to calculate royalties, a system that has conceived mistrust between the parties.

There are suspicions that the log sheets are not reflective of the actual playlists following numerous complaints from musicians that they were being underpaid. Several musicians have confronted Zimura claiming that their royalties do not tally with airplay of their songs yet the association would have calculated the figures from information provided by the stations.

Zimura is expected to work closely with the broadcasters to create a common ground for the introduction of the system.

Zimura director, Polisile Ncube, said the new computerised system, which comes into effect in January 2015, would curb suspected manipulation of airplay records and guard against exploitation of musicians.
Polisile Ncube
Airplay royalties have become an important revenue alternative for musicians in the face of marauding piracy that has eroded music sales and challenging economic conditions that have negatively affected live show attendance.

“This new system has been used internationally and we believe it will help us come with the less disputable figures when we calculate royalties. Every time a song is played on a station, the system automatically records it under its composer,” said Ncube.

“Some of our members have been complaining that they hear their songs receiving massive airplay yet the records that we get from the stations do not show such frequency.

These musicians blame us and they do not buy our explanation. Very few of them understand the current system and it gives us a lot of problems.”

Ncube said, in addition to promoting a good relationship between the association and its members, the new system would ensure musicians get what they deserve.

“Musicians suspect that radio stations manipulate airplay records in order to pay less. Songs are their intellectual property and they should be adequately rewarded when their songs are played on air,” she said.

“We are concerned about the welfare of musicians and we will always do our best to protect and promote them. Very few of our members are getting income from live shows and we cannot talk of music sales because of piracy.

We believe the annual airplay royalties can assist our members in a great way and that is why we often take money from other sources to pay royalties even when some radio stations fail to remit their payments as expected.”

Zimura and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation have been at loggerheads for many years following the latter’s failure to pay royalties for their four radio and two television stations on time.

The coming aboard of new radio stations, Star FM and ZiFM Stereo, which undertook to pay royalties early this year, is a positive development for musicians.

The new system at Zimura will monitor all the radio and television stations throughout the year and musicians will collect their royalties from the stations at once.

Stakeholders in the arts industry have welcomed the development

Zimbabwe Musicians Union spokesperson Daniel Ngwira said they are happy with the system and are optimistic Zimura and the stations will agree on implementation.

“We think it is a positive development since musicians would get what they deserve.
Musicians optimistic… as Zimura intensifies revenue collection
Manual recording has loopholes because it does not warrant that all music that is played is recorded. Someone may forget to log the songs on the sheet and that distorts information,” said Ngwira.

A local musician and writer said they always called for transparency in distribution of royalties.

“There are many things that we do not understand about royalties. Sometimes we get royalties and sometimes we don’t and we are told that the stations have not paid. I think we need a system that is clear so that we also understand how things work. We have to know who to blame for our woes,” he said.

Several other musicians said they were eagerly awaiting the implementation of the system as it ensures they get their deserved income. The Herald
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