'Mechanical Rights' project excites musicians


Universal Sounds, Nampost as well as the Namibian Society for Composers and Authors of Music (Nascam) are hatching a plan, which they say will stand to benefit local and international musicians immensely.  The plan, according to its proponent, Robert Shipanga, who is also the co-owner of Universal Sounds, will see local artists getting a stake out of loading their CDs on jukeboxes.

Shipanga this week said there are currently approximately 100,000 jukeboxes across Namibia. 

He maintained that the project was necessitated by the fact that local as well as international artists are not benefitting from the mechanical rights of their music on local jukeboxes.

“Currently, the only benefit musicians get from the 100,000 plus jukeboxes is from CDs purchased by the jukebox owners. Worse still, the current  jukeboxes are not digital and can take only 10 to 15 CDs each, which also reduces the amount of money artists could get from the deal,” Shipanga said. 

“With every compact disc purchased, owners will also be obliged to purchase a stamp corresponding to the album, which he keeps as proof that the subscribing artists received money for each of their CDs in the jukebox,” Shipanga explained.

Nampost stands to benefit from producing and selling the stamps, which will be sold to jukebox owners at a price of N$8.50. 

The stamps will also be sold at Nampost at a price of N$60. This money will be split between the artists and Universal Sounds, the parties of which will get N$42 and N$18 each respectively.   The idea, Shipanga said, was also motivated by the fact that currently, worldwide shuttle jukeboxes are phasing out and as jukebox manufacturers across the world have now gone digital. “Say, for example, a musician who is a signatory to the music deal has their music loaded in all 100 000 jukeboxes, such a musician stands a chance to get approximately N$4.2m as a once-off payment” Shipanga maintained.  

He also maintained that nine artists have so far signed their contracts and their stamps are currently under production. These artists are kwaito musicians Gazza and The Dogg, afro-pop duo, Gal Level; singer and producer, Damara Dik Ding; rapper, Jericho and his long-time collaborator, Dixon; Oviritje outfit, Bullet ya Kaoko as well as the veteran Damara punch performer, Phura. South African house musician, Biblos is currently the only foreign musician to have shown interest in the project. 

Biblos, who was in Windhoek on a business visit, last week confirmed his interest in the project, “I am supporting this project 100%. I think this deal will make it easier for artists in Namibia as well as guys like me who are foreigners to earn more money from our music. Currently, only jukebox owners benefit more,” Biblos said.

Confirming his membership, Damara Dik Ding said he was initially sceptical but later bought into it after reviewing the terms of reference. “I think it’s a brilliant idea, I am happy with the initiative, because Nascam has only been focusing on making sure that our CDs are not pirated but now we stand a chance to make money from jukeboxes as well,” he said. 

Dixon also affirmed his interest in the proposed deal maintaining that he is currently in the process of concluding his deal with the proponents of the project. While not signed to the venture, local singer-turned-radio boss, Jossy Joss has also embraced the idea. 

“It sounds like it can be a great idea if those who are behind it remain genuine and execute the project properly,” said Jossy. “I can’t say that I am going to join yet, because I have to scrutinise the contract first in order to be sure of what I am getting myself into,” he added. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nascam, John Max confirmed his association’s participation in the project.  “We believe that this project will further promote the regulation of jukeboxes in the country,” he said.

However, artists linked to Omalaeti Productions will not be party to this venture. Managing Director of Omalaeti, John Walenga confirmed this week that his artists will not take part in this venture. “I do not have the details on this project and I am not really interested. They can run their project as long as none of Omalaeti Productions artists take part in it,” said Walenga.