Sunday, December 3, 2023

International artists enjoy bulk of royalties paid by Botswana

International artists continue to enjoy a lion’s share in royalty payments from Botswana.

Copyright Society of Botswana chief executive officer (CEO) Lesego Selotate has highlighted that a change in the law is needed to help Batswana get a “bang for their buck”.

Appearing before Parliament’s Committee on Youth, Sport, Arts and Culture Selotate shared that the society had paid out P3 million in royalties with P2.1 million gouing to international repertoire while P900 000 was shared amongst local musicians.

Selotate admitted to heeding local musicians outcries of low dividend pay outs. He said: “Our mandate is very narrow which is to collect and distribute. Money collected is based on usage of musical artworks, which is the airplay that is enjoyed by the music. Collecting from radio stations we pay according to the number of times it has played on that radio station. We work on a six-month cycle for example from January to June. We calculate the number of times a song has played at a particular radio station and pay in accordance to the number of times it played.”

“If we look at statistics, the repertoire that is played from international community is often as high as 70 percent. The lion`s share of whatever it is we collected is attributable to the foreign artists then the very little is left to be shared amongst local artists. Even then that small pie shared by local artists is derived from the little that has been played,” Selotate said.

The issue of royalties in Botswana is at an infancy stage in terms of understanding and uptake, as some artists release musical projects that fails to meet radio and television standards and this results in artists not earning royalties as music would be played elsewhere. The other issue is on resistance by users such as bars, radio stations, retail shops etc as they use the music freely and once requested to pay there is resistance.

“There is a lot of money to be made in music because of what we see in the international community, the reality of the matter is that royalties are a small proportion of any money an artist can generate because where the actual bang for buck is, is the actual sale of the music; which is primary rights that we do not get involved in. we as a collection society collect secondary rights when the music is being exploited by users such as bars, radio stations and so forth,” the CEO said.

On what needs to happen to improve the current situation, Selotate said: “We need to have a deliberate policy channelled through Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority that we get a lot more local content in the licensing requirements that they give to these establishments that play music.”

Selotate believes the time has come for the society to have access to the levy on technical devices collected by BURS and administered by Ministry of Investment Trade and Industry as it would contribute significantly to their collection.


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