‘Gov’t can’t interfere with private right’ – Ezekiel Mutua, CS Kuria clash over musicians’ royalties

By , K24 Digital
On Mon, 12 Feb, 2024 13:19 | 3 mins read
Public Service CS Moses Kuria and MCSK CEO Ezekiel Mutua. PHOTO/X (@HonMoses_Kuria, @EzekielMutua)

Music Copyright Society Of Kenya (MCSK) CEO Ezekiel Mutua has differed strongly with Public Service, Performance and Delivery Management Cabinet Secretary (CS) Moses Kuria over his plan to rein in Collective Management Organisations (CMOs).

In a statement on X on February 11, 2024, at 9:26 pm, Kuria said that the State is seeking to make amendments to the Copyright Act to create government-run CMOs in a bid to stamp out corruption.

The Public Service CS further lamented that the current CMOs were ripping off artists.

Kuria additionally outlined the measures that will be undertaken by the State-run CMOs to seal off all avenues used to cheat artists out of their hard-earned royalties.

The CS said that all music, copyright and royalties will be paid through e-Citizen among other measures.

"The government is spearheading amendments to the Copyright Act to create a government run Collective Management Organisation. All music, copyrughts and royalties will be paid through E-Citizen. Our artists will be individually registered. They can view online how much money is collected. Siku 40 za wezi wa jasho ya artists zimeisha," Moses Kuria wrote.

Reacting to Kuria's statement, Ezekiel Mutua stressed that the government could not interfere with the running of CMOs since Kenya is a signatory to an international convention that guarantees CMOs right to operate without State interference.

The MSCK boss additionally expressed his willingness to cooperate with the government to enable artists to earn more royalties.

"The practice world over in respect to royalties management is for the Government to create a conducive environment for CMOs to thrive. The Govt cannot interfere with a private right. Kenya is a signatory to the WIPO convention and the principles of WIPO do not allow Government interference with the running of CMOs. MCSK is monitoring the developments including the ongoing Amendment to the Copyright Act and will give our proposals on how we can collaborate with the Government to make music business more profitable and respectable," Mutua wrote on X.


CMOs are private not-for-profit entities licensed to collect and distribute royalties for and among its members.

In Kenya, there are presently five main CMOs licensed by the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO), as mandated by the Copyright Act of Kenya.

The CMOs that have operated in Kenya include; Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), Music Publishers Association of Kenya (MPAKE), Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP), The Reproduction Rights Society of Kenya (KOPIKEN) and Performance Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK).

Musicians have long complained of being paid in banana peels by CMOs.

On January 25, 2024, for instance, MCSK came under fire after it announced that it was distributing a Ksh20 million payout to 16,000 Kenyan musicians.

Kenyans quickly calculated that Ksh20 million distributed to 16,000 musicians meant each would be paid a meagre Ksh1,250 in royalties from MCSK.

However, Mutua came out to clarify that MCSK was using a scientific distribution method to ensure equitable pay.

Even after the explanation, some musicians still claimed they were cheated by the MCSK distribution of the royalties.

Veteran rapper Nonini in a statement on February 6, 2024, accused MCSK of unfair distribution of royalties to artists, claiming the administrators were getting the lion's share of the collections.

"You see the exact problem that is affecting Kenyan Music Industry. These are the figures MCSK budgeted artists monies for the year that just ended 2023. This is a problem in all CMOs administration and directors benefit more than anyone," Nonini stated.

In 2023, several musicians shared their M-Pesa details after being paid peanuts by MCSK.

Sauti Sol lead singer Bien was the first to post his M-Pesa statement which showed that he was paid Ksh14,634 by MCSK.

Bien wondered what 'upcoming' musicians like Khaligraph Jones were paid if he could be paid a laughable amount of Ksh14,634 for the whole year.

Stevo Simple Boy, while also commenting on Bien's post, revealed that he was paid Ksh3,000. Obinna revealed that he was paid Ksh258.