Kenya Introduces Alternative Licensing Regime For Use of Copyrighted Music in Public Places
A collecting society like the Music Copyright Society of Kenya has three main sources of revenue: license fees, surcharge and membership registration fees. In order for these monies to be received by MCSK, it has had to invest in offices countrywide, staff and other resources. It is public knowledge that MCSK’s license fees collections surpassed the quarter of a million shilling mark growing to Kshs 261,422,378.00 in the last financial year. While this is a commendable growth, it must be borne in mind that the expenses of the Society were at about Kshs 154,183.481 during the same period. The challenge therefore for MCSK has been to develop ways of expanding and growing its collections while keeping related costs at their lowest.
In relation to collection of license fees for performances in public places (PPP), a new alternative licensing regime has been proposed by Triple P Media Limited. This new product was launched recently and the youtube show-reel at the beginning of this post briefly summarises what Triple P Media has to offer. It’s sui generis nature lies in the fact that Triple P Media will generate a whole new revenue stream for MCSK through commercial exploitation of its vast repertoire of musical works. This revenue stream from Triple P Media will be generated from use of MCSK’s repertoire music with advertisements that will be broadcast in all MCSK-licensed public premises countrywide.
In addition to sharing its advertising revenue with MCSK, Triple P Media will still be required to take out reproduction and synchronisation licenses from MCSK and possibly two other licenses namely: broadcasting and wireless music services. The broadcasting license would apply if Triple P Media intends on becoming a fully-fledged TV and Radio Station (as required by Communications Commission of Kenya -CCK) and the wireless music services license would apply if Triple P Media intends on developing a website where music will be available for streaming and/or download. In addition, Triple P Media will ensure that all the public places involved take out MCSK’s public performance license as a condition for participation in the Triple P Media project. This is a huge benefit for MCSK that will now be perceived to be the key to a value-added service for its licensees that allows the latter to enjoy quality copyrighted music of their choice and respective tastes.
It is clear that this arrangement with MCSK only means that Triple P Media intends to make huge sums from advertising that will allow it to not only offset the license fees due but also cater for the revenue split with MCSK. The key for Triple P Media is having compelling content that is able to captivate audiences who sit in public transportation, queue in banking halls and supermarket counters, sit in bars, restaurants, barbershops, hair salons or wherever else.
According to Triple P Media, each public service vehicle (PSV) ferries a conservative number of 100 people per day multiplied by the over 70,000 PSVs. Therefore Triple P Media claims it will have an advertising reach of over 7 Million people daily, not including fixed venues (restaurants, pubs, banks, supermarkets etc.) For advertisers, Triple P Media is the next best thing in ‘transit advertising’, noting that Kenyans spend up to 3 hours per day in transit. This new venture offers unique opportunities for their brands as the commuters’ attention is focused on the content playing in the bus or matatu leading to over 60% retention and limited distraction unlike in a home or office environment.
MCSK contends that this new licensing regime will reduce the operational costs with regard to Performance in Public Places (PPP) that usually eats upto 50% of the revenue total revenue collected per annum. Besides this, due to the sheer size of the operation and amount of resources required, MCSK claims that the current model of public performance fees collection comes with several inefficiencies like loss of revenue from evasion, corruption and operational gaps.
This blogger applauds this new and innovative way of generating more revenue for the musicians of Kenya in addition to providing them with more visibility. However, the proof of the pudding remains in the eating. More fundamentally, Triple P Media is a good case study of just how expensive legal commercial exploitation of music can be in Kenya. As we have noted above, the folks at Triple P Media will require no less than four (4) separate licenses from MCSK in order to operate their business! Bearing in mind that MCSK only administers the bundle of rights controlled by the copyright owner in the musical work, Triple P Media will still have to pay license fees to the holders of the related rights in the same musical works namely, the producers (represented by the Kenya Association of Music Producers – KAMP) as well as the performers (represented by the Performers’ Rights Society of Kenya – PRiSK). Not to mention that if Triple P Media were to prepare compilations of their mixes for sale to the public, they would have to pay the Kenya Copyright Board (KeCoBo) to cover registration fees and authentication devices for their compilations.
Editor’s note: The views, opinions and analyses expressed herein are solely those of the author and are not those of his employers, both past and present.