Taclking piracy in Kenya's music industry

by Elayne Wangalwa 0

It is estimated that about 80 per cent of music in the East African nation is pirated. However, the music sector in the country is evolving day by day thanks to technology.

Technology has helped musicians beat the piracy menace by providing music at a manageable cost.

According to Francis Amisi a rapper commonly referred to ‘Frasha’, Mdundo.com – a digital platform that enables artists to distribute their music without using a recording label – is a relief to the industry.

“When we started doing music there was a lot of problems in terms of distribution of music and looking at the companies which were there, they used to get the chunk of the money from the artists,” Frasha said.

(WATCH VIDEO: The evolution of Kenya’s music industry)

Mdundo, a Kenyan term meaning musical beat, is the country’s official mobile music store.

Mdundo makes purchasing music more affordable for fans. A 100 Kenyan shilling scratch card enables fans to download five songs. After scratching the cards to reveal a secret pin, customers can log on via the internet and enter the pin to download their music.

“It has only been one year that we have been running with the model we have now and in that year we have more than 3,000 artists signed up to the platform which I think is quite a number of artists and most of them is Kenyan music that is being played on the radio,” Martin Nielsen, CEO at Mdundo told CNBC Africa.

Debbie Asila, Marketing Manager at Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) believes that Mdundo will transform the face of the music industry in Kenya.

“What Mdundo has done is that they have made that music available on a digital platform so that if you are interested in a new song you can actually find it on the platform. They [Mdundo creators] made that platform available and I think it is a very big contribution because the world is going digital,” Asila said.

(WATCH VIDEO: Music business in Africa)

In 2013, over five million pirated copies of music and film CDs were destroyed in Kenya by the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO), in order to curb the growing black market that is denying local artists their hard earned money.

The KECOBO, a state corporation, is actively monitoring various illegal online download sites that offer these pirated works. Most of these illegal sites are foreign based and subsequently KECOBO has liaised with several foreign copyright agencies to tame cases of pirating copyrighted materials in the East African nation.