The music royalties collecting body, Nascam, has this past week lambasted artists for complaining over not being paid when they are not doing their work and some have not bothered to be registered with the union.
At the side-lines of a familiarising workshop with international delegates, Nascam’s head of licensing department, Gabriel Amugongo, said those who make noise about not being paid are the same artists that do not attend annual general meetings.
“At the moment we do not have a problem on the collection of royalties. When it comes to royalties, artists should not complain because they do not know the main objective of Nascam. We collect and distribute. Those who are not getting anything means they are not doing anything. It means their music is not either playing on air or they are not recorded from radio services,” said Amugongo without mincing words.
It is very difficult to get hold of any financial statements from the body because they are a closely guarded secret, hence the inability by members of the public to glean on total revenues collected yearly.
“We share these statements with the members only not with the members of the public,” said Amugongo.
Yet he laments government’s inability to bankroll the institution, although an agreement with Bipa may see some funds going its way.
“Unfortunately, it’s a pity that since Nascam was established in 1994, we have not received any single cent from government to support our initiatives. But we had a very successful meeting with Bipa, very soon they will provide us with funds that will also help us to do more to our members,” he said.
He said some funds are lost through some radio stations that fail to account for songs they play on their program report schedules.
“A PRS is a log-sheet that says Gazza’s song played twice this afternoon,” explained Nascam’s book keeper Sarah Shalianda.
Amugongo said other stations do not disappoint.
“Not all of them, but some other radio stations. We managed to have a meeting with them, maybe they are going to comply with that,” he said.
He said that there are artists that have a lot of unregistered albums, thus Nascam tends to be not aware who the rightful owners of these are.
“So we have to come to the office and then register with Nascam. I don’t want Nascam making a mistake, paying you for your music because I heard your voice, or because it’s in the newspaper I read,” he said.
Nascam has over 7 000 musicians registered under its wings.
Yet some artists are already starting to question the relevance of Nascam as they are adamant that it is not serving its purpose while others think otherwise.
Paul Da Prince says there is a need for a new union that can represent the artists.
He said it is important to be protected as an artist or entertainer in general because the industry can really be a struggle.
Lioness says that the local entertainers should not think of creating another organisation that is tasked to protect musicians’ rights, but to work on transforming the existing one to better its operations.
D Jay says Nascam is not doing enough when it comes to standing in for them when event organizers fail to pay them saying that people can actually just decide not to pay a performer.
Local producer, Arrafath, further says that he could not ask for a better representative than Nascam because he survives on the union which he says has represented him on many occasions.
"The existing union, I think, is really not doing much, I don’t think they have involved musicians to know exactly what is required," he says.