By Daisy Nandeche Okoti
Published July 7, 2015
Kenya’s Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts has developed a National Music Policy—musicpolicy.or.ke—to govern the country’s music sector.
Marked as ‘revised’ and said to have been developed in consultation with major players—music creators, music arrangers, music performers, producers of sound and audiovisual recording, music record companies, music trainers, music publishers, music promoters and distributors—in the music sector, the policy seeks to regulate, promote and protect musicians from exploitation and unfair practices.
In line with this, the policy will endeavour to ensure that 60% of music being played on radio and TV stations in the country is by local musicians and provide incentives for advertising, hotels, and the national carrier to incorporate Kenyan music in order to promote local content and market it both locally and internationally.
But for all these to be effected, musicians are called upon to get more creative and original in the way they present cultures of Kenya. They are called upon to do more research and compose better music that will endear the audience to them and have commercially-viable content that will not translate to losses if local and TV stations give them a 60% airtime.
Recognizing lack of proper structures and legal regulatory frameworks as being major contributors to poor coordination and stagnation in the music sector, the policy, dated January 2015, commits the government to play its role in promoting the music industry in the country and protecting the intellectual property of musicians as espoused in the Kenyan constitution. This policy also makes it clear that musicians in the country should not reproduce the works of others and present them as their own, be it local or international artists.
The policy also commits the government to enforce the existing laws pertain to creativity to ensure that musicians in the country operate in clearly defined frameworks that will see to it that the audience benefits from good music, the musicians themselves get good remuneration from their work and the government benefits from the large Gross Domestic Product (GDP) potential which the music industry is capable of turning in if fully developed.
National identity, tourism, music education and training, funding and investing in musicians, financial management, and copyright and intellectual property protection are just some of the key areas which this policy reexamines and notes to be of importance in forging a strong music industry that churns out musicians who can compete on global music platforms.
To help in the implementation of this policy which shall be under the custodianship of the Permanent Presidential Music Commission (PPMC), various supporting institutions have been formulated to ensure applicability, evaluation and efficacy. One such supporting structure is the National Music Board which shall take charge of coordination within the industry, the National Music Tribunal which shall take care of conflict resolution, and the Music Trust Fund to provide artists with the tools they need to harness their creative talents.
It is no doubt that the music industry in the country has in the past operated in an undefined structure. There has been no regulator at the national level about how the industry operated and the results have been low quality of music, lack of assessment of music, copyright infringement and lack of protection of intellectual property rights, inability for musicians in the country to compete favourably on the global stage and lack of a clear tax base for the government. Implementation of this policy is likely to improve the music sector and make it attractive as well as make it more profitable for all the parties.