Artists Respond to the #ElaniSpeaks Controversy

Since the release of the #ElaniSpeaks video, various artists have contributed their views on the matter on the different social media platforms. As artists recounted and shared their experience on dealing with MCSK; and as more light is shed on the issue, I couldn’t help but wonder what the real issue is. Could it simply be a case of poor structures and systems in place on the side of MCSK to collect and govern what rightly belongs to artists? Or is it a case of mismanagement of resources on the side of the artist? FYI: I don’t have the answers.

In a recent interview with Eddy Kavai of Upbeat, a weekly music talk show by Afrca24 Media, Avril, a Kenyan singer, songwriter and actress  stated that everyone has a right to complain depending on your source of reference.

“If you get a perspective from Elani’s point of view since they have been the most vocal, you’ll definitely see their point or why they are saying they have been aggrieved,” Avril said in the Upbeat interview. “If you look at it from the point of MCSK and get the knowledge from MCSK you would want to side with MCSK and find out what’s going on in the industry. I feel the problem is way bigger than what the people are being told.”

KenyanVibe caught up with Hip Hop connoisseur Buddha Blaze, who’s a huge advocate for music artists  getting their dues. Below are his take on the issue.

What are your remarks about the allegations brought forth by Elani against MCSK?

I saw the video and I feel really bad for them because they are one of my favourite bands in Kenya and they have a great sound. But that being said the situation is not as straight forward as it sounds. I think we have very able people who can eventually sort this out.

Having been in the music industry for a good number of years; generally, would you say music artists are fairly compensated, not only by MCSK but also through other avenues like sales, performances, etc.?

MCSK is not what pays artists. That should never be the hope for an artist to do music for royalties. They should be so good that MCSK royalties are just a bonus. There are many other revenue streams; concerts, endorsements, merchandise etc.

Does this extend beyond Elani? Are there other artist who have been in the same predicament but suffering in silence?

Of course even the biggest Kenyan artist such as Eric Wainaina does not get what is fully owed to them. That’s just because there’s a systematic problem in the Royalty situation in Kenya. It has mostly to do with radio stations not paying for music and also the log system not being transparent or efficient enough for artist to rightly earn what they deserve. Elani is just one voice there’s many more. Watch out online for a video called Rufftone Speaks. He is a big artist and has had even more hits than Elani but same predicament. All our heroic elders such as Daudi Kabaka, Fundi Konde all died poor because our systems don’t care about musicians. This has to change eventually and I can see it will change with this generation because we are awake.

What measures can artists take to avoid such scenarios keeping in mind this is a trusted body?

They need to get MCSK back in order by being involved in the day to day running of MCSK. They must attend elections and make sure elected officials are accountable. They must give views and ideas on how they want it run.