#MidWeekMusic: Should DJs Pay for the Tracks They Sample?

There has been a raging battle on social media recently over whether or not DJs should have to pay royalties for the usage of other artits’ original music.

To keep you in the loop: the Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) along with the Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK) have demanded that DJs pay an annual fee of KSH15,000 for using local artists’ music at live shows. This prompted two hashtags to float around social media last week: #payforplay, which basically urges DJs to pay the fee and #DJsunited4Music, which garnered suppport from Elani, Kansoul, Octopizzo and Provoke Music among others.

Hashtags and tweets aside here are the facts as stated in article 26 of the Kenya Copyright Act:

“26. (1) Copyright in a literary, musical or artistic work or audio-visual work shall be the exclusive right to control the doing in Kenya of any of the following acts, the reproduction in any material form of the original work or its translation or adaptation, the distribution to the public of the work by way of sale, rental, lease, hire, loan, importation or similar arrangement, and the communication to the public and the broadcasting of the whole work or a substantial part thereof, either in its original form or in any form recognizably derived from the original…”

The incentive to demand returns from DJ performances is obviously well founded; the moment you make use of someone’s cultural capital you must receive necessary authorizations. That being said, the law’s implementation is not entirely transparent.

Firstly, since 2012, DJs pay a licensing fee to the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK). Secondly, the clubs, bars, radio stations, TV stations and concert venues that host DJs pay licensing fees for public performances; so why would there need to be a separate licensing fee specifically for recorded music?

Anyway it’s still an on-going discussion and a meeting between PRISK, KAMP and several DJs is underway so that this issue can be discussed and subsequently settled. Keep your eyes and ears open. This  can become a decision that changes music forever.

I'm a music & culture writer and photographer. Catch up with me on Instagram @muzikiyamtaa.