6 possible solutions to the ZIMURA artists’ royalties struggles

For a longtime there has been an from composers, producers and performers of music Zimbabwe over the handling of their royalties from collection to distribution of the income from Radio stations, businesses and members of the public. Recently the sole collective society in Zimbabwe the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association [ZIMURA] announced new licensing tariffs in US$ which prompted artists to question if they will be paid in forex too.

Amongst one of the the key concerns raised by artists in the past include ZIMURA’s criteria for payouts, late or non payments, their huge admin bill which chokes up at least 40% of total collected revenue, the constitution of their board and the failure to put in place digital systems to collect and monitor music use.

I have come up with a few suggestions on what composers & artists may need to consider doing going forward.

1. Lobby Zimbabwe Music Rights Association [ZIMURA] to reform & transform through a raft of changes which could see changes in management team, a change of board members (getting young / fresh, competent and informed board members). Putting in place a digital system and ensuring all radio stations comply. Having a clear, justifiable and credible public performance royalties collection system and distribution.
2. Form a second [a new / alternative] collective licensing society which will represent music composers’ and authors’ performing rights, offering better terms and more results for artists. One that will have artists’ interests at heart and is properly constituted to ensure effective collection, management, distribution and accountability of artists’ royalties.
3. Artists / composers of music to form a recording industry union which will work to create checks and balances on ZIMURA. ZIMURA enjoys a MONOPOLY which may need to be broken. South Africa has SAMRO, RISA, SAMPRA all working in a complementary way to ensure artists / authors of music’s rights are protected, promoted and their earnings collected and distributed efficiently & with credibility.
4. Have functional unions / associations representing instrumentalists, producers, composers, vocalists, distributors and everyone involved in the music industry then have an umbrella union which represents all the stakeholders to ensure the interests of the industry and its players are represented and championed.
5. Leave ZIMURA en masse and go for option 2.
6. Do nothing. Keep complaining. Wallow in poverty.
*Royalties should be the biggest source of revenue for composers / artists in the NEW NORMAL.

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