SHOCKING details of some artistes getting as little as RTGS$3 in royalties paid by the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (Zimura) have emerged with calls for leadership renewal at the organisation.
Zimura, a non-governmental revenue collecting society whose mandate is to protect and promote the rights of music composers, authors and publishers in Zimbabwe disbursed royalties to artistes from 1 June amid complaints by the recipients that they were paid ‘peanuts’.
Urban grooves artiste Alexio Gwenzi popularly known as Goodchild said the reason why artistes are being paid ‘peanuts’ in royalties is that Zimura is ‘eating from the same pot with artistes’ for its administration costs.
He implored Zimura to find alternative means to fund its administration costs instead of depending on money collected as royalties.
Zimura executive director Polisile Ncube-Chimhini said it is impossible for the organisation to operate without dipping into the royalties.
“Zimura is a non-profit making organisation and does not retain any funds at the end of the year. We use a percentage of the royalties for our day to day operations and all royalty societies worldwide do the same.
“One has to spend money to make money. We need funds to travel, accommodation for our staff when collecting royalties as well as maintaining our offices. It’s not a secret that there are administrative costs incurred in revenue collection,” said Chimhini.
Asked if it was true that some artistes collected as little as RTGS$3, Chimhini said she did not have the figures at hand as she was out of office.
“I’m not in a position to say how much was paid to which artiste because I’m not in the office but artistes are paid based on how often their music is played by radio stations,” she said.
Goodchild said in as much as artistes appreciate work done by seasoned musicians such as Albert Nyathi, Pastor Charles Charamba and Bob Nyabinde who are part of the Zimura board, it is time for young blood to take over.
“It’s time for young artistes with energy to take over Zimura because we need people who understand our plight as young artistes. It’s not about voting Goodchild into the board. We just want young blood with new fighting energy on the Zimura board. Artistes are suffering out there and the Zimura board seems to be oblivious to that,” he said.
Another musician who declined to be named said: “We know how these guys operate. It’s better to keep quiet and collect that small amount. The moment you complain you’ll not receive a single cent. What we need though is an external audit at Zimura,” she said.
Another concern for artistes is that the royalties have not been reviewed for years and that it takes too long for them to receive their dues.
Jazz musician Edith WeUtonga chipped in saying that Zimura is giving artistes a raw deal.
“Zimura administrative fee is just too high and needs to be reviewed downwards. What’s surprising is that they prefer giving us paltry royalties when the board is paid hefty allowances.
“We can’t keep suffering in silence for fear of victimisation,” said WeUtonga.
Zimura board chairman Albert Nyathi could not be reached for comment. – @RaymondJaravaza