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Creatives cravings in the new government

 Tik Tok star Azziad Nasenya.

Creatives have been one of the most unregarded lot in the country. The sector, where many young people expect to thrive is not as lucrative as it is usually painted through the 'showbiz' eye.

We believe YouTubers, TikTok stars, influencers, and well, other social media personalities; all the way from the influential Azziad Nasenya and Vick Brandon to Mukenya Vibes are the new showbiz millionaire creative celebrities in town, thanks to their social media influencing power.

Young film producers and directors as well as actors have their work enjoying space in new filming avenues like Netflix and Showmax. However, to boost their financial worth, musicians, who can equally enjoy such spaces might not be getting the most out of their potential.

Some, like Trio Mio, made good fortunes during the campaign period while others are just left with the 'celebrity' tag.

With a new government set to come into effect whichever way the post-election process ends, the creative sector is positive the new government will prioritise issues that affect the industry's growth based on the manifestos presented.

With the music industry in mind as a highlight, over the past 10 years, save for the recent Covid-19 pandemic effects, we have witnessed growth in the industry.

The Kenyan music scene has become more vibrant than ever. This evolution is attributable to many factors including the expanded digital environment characterised by increased consumption of music, improved internet infrastructure, better legislative framework, and a growing global interest in African music.

Collectively, these factors have created opportunities for diverse revenue streams for artists and record producers.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI); representing the recorded music industry worldwide, in its annual Global Music Report released in March this year reported that the global recording industry revenues for the year 2020 were US$ 21.6 billion (Sh2.5t).

Recorded music revenues in Africa and the Middle East region increased by 8.4 per cent, outpacing the global recorded music market, which grew by 7.4 per cent.

IFPI's report highlighted the importance of the recorded music industry to any economy, including Kenya's.

In 2020, His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta acknowledged the contribution of the industry to the country's economy, observing the music industry was worth more than Sh2 billion which could be sourced through collective management organisations.

President Kenyatta had expressed his government's commitment to improving the industry in this aspect and ensuring artists are fairly remunerated for the commercial exploitation of their works.

Indeed, the industry has witnessed positive policy movements to help achieve the industry goal of improved revenues and further consolidate gains so far realised.

For instance, the passing into law of the legacy bill Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2019 by the 12th Parliament was a tremendous step towards protecting the economic rights of artists and record producers against online piracy and illegal use of their works.

This and other policies - including the recent passing of the Copyright Bill 2021 that set right holder minimum earnings from the Caller Ring Back Tones (CRBTs).

While the industry has made critical steps in the right direction, there are serious issues that have undermined the industry's growth. The collective management sector, despite the joint licensing venture, has made little progress in licensing users of music such as broadcasters for the commercial use of recorded music.

The 2020 PwC Entertainment and Media Outlook Report estimated that the broadcast radio advertising revenue was US$ 86 million (Sh9.45b) that year. Based on standard practice, right holders should collectively earn about 10 per cent of the advertising revenue for the commercial use of their music (about Sh1 billion) taking into consideration individual radio channel's coverage and controlled music content.

Taking this in mind, it means that collections have been at a value of less than one per cent, which is not commensurate to the use of works. These collections are minimal due to poor tariffs and an unfavourable policy environment that if amended would constructively deal with the high level of non-compliance.

It is the belief of many creatives that the new government will follow through with its promises to the creative sector.

Looking at the manifestos, the Kenya Kwanza Alliance committed to setting aside a financing framework to fast-track universal broadband connection throughout the country within five years. They also promised to reduce the cost of data to facilitate youth exploitation of online entertainment platforms, expand and mainstream arts and culture infrastructure, and mainstream the creative economy in Brand Kenya and commercial diplomacy, among others.

The IFPI Global Music Report 2022 showed that the revenue growth for the Sub-Saharan Africa Region was driven by streaming revenues which was up 20.1 per cent. This commitment is therefore important to realise the growth of the industry and should be prioritised.

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition on the other hand promised to set up an inter-agency commission to develop an action plan and outline the protection of intellectual property rights through a centralised, digitised institution. They further promised to establish a creative centre in the major cities, strengthen IP laws and policies, and establish a creative commission in every county to enhance stakeholder collaboration on the implementation of development policy, among others.

Creatives, therefore, look forward to constructively working with the new government to build a sustainable and meaningful process that will enable the implementation of the government's plan for the rightsholders including artists and record producers.

This will facilitate economic growth for the industry and subsequently contribute to government revenue and ensure that the creative industry contributes a significant amount to the GDP, which in turn will support millions of jobs nationwide.

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