Kenyan president urges telcos to pay artists more for ringtones

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has added his voice to the campaign to get telecommunications companies to pay artists more for the use of their music in ringtones. Over the years musicians have been agitating over what they call unfair payment from mobile phone music platforms.

A phone user. Photo:
A phone user. Photo:

Currently telecommunications companies retain 85 percent of the revenues generated from the callback tune services, while artists receive the remaining 15 percent, from which collecting management organisations (CMOs) deduct administrative fees.

“Young, talented artists and others…for a long time have also felt that they are losing money. The bulk of the money should go to those who have put in the hard work of developing that music and the talent.”

In a broadcast aired by Kenyan TV station NTV, the president further said that his government is working towards achieving the best deal for artists. “If need be, through the implementation of law, we will ensure that the ultimate beneficiaries are those using their talent to the best,” the president remarked.   

Musicians and content developers in Kenya and around Africa have been lobbying for a bigger share of revenues generated from ringtones and mobile apps. In Kenya the services were launched in 2009 with the introduction of Skiza Tunes, owned by telecommunications giant Safaricom.

Skiza Tunes has since grown to become one of the biggest revenue earners in Safaricom’s portfolio of premium services. The platform boasts more than 5,000 registered users. In April 2016, Safaricom made a pay-out of Ksh 152 million (about $1.50 million) to content owners for the revenues earned between June 2015 and February 2016.



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