By Sindiso Dube
The Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (Zimura) has encouraged dancehall artists, particularly Levels and Fantan who operate under the banner Chillspot Records to register under their organisation if they wish to get royalties from the music they produced.
The statement came out following a heated argument on social media between Levelz and the music rights board. Chillspot Records claimed that Zimura should pay royalties even for unregistered members.
“Zimura since you collect royalties for both registered and non-registered musicians [who can’t afford membership fees and other requirements you need for registration]. Is there any means that those who are not your members get royalties that you collect even if they don’t assign you to do so,” posted Levelz on his Instagram page.
“Or that money only belongs to you while artistes languish in poverty.
“As of me, you have been withholding my money since 2011 when my music was played by radio stations. Have you ever asked yourselves that the money you are withholding can be eroded by inflation. Aren’t you being pitiless?”
The post was received with mixed reaction from music stakeholders with some castigating Zimura for failing to meet its obligation while others felt Levelz could have find other means to engage the music board.
Zimura responded to Levelz on Instagram claiming that they had visited Chillspot Records with regards to registration and payment of royalties.
“To set the record straight, Zimura visited Chillspot twice with regards to the issue of their royalties and registration. Our staff members, Sandrah and Climate met Levelz and Fantan and discussed about how they can receive their royalties. Zimura cannot distribute royalties to songs which are not declared or notified,” read a post by Zimura.
“Relevant information is needed on split sheets to know who did what and who gets what? Levels and Fantan are producers and creators of music, they create music (Riddims) for many artistes, then for Zimura to be able to know the share, there is need for both the singers/lyricists and the producer/owner/creator of the riddim to notify Zimura of the share split.
“This information enables Zimura to accurately calculate, and distribute to the rightful persons. It goes without saying therefore, that Zimura cannot distribute for songs that have not been declared/notified/claimed because it would not know what percentage belongs to who post.”
On Friday Zimura issued a statement clarifying on the issue of royalties.
“It has come to Zimura’s attention that Levels-Chillspot and the general public may not be aware of Zimura operations and have misconceptions that for one to get their royalties for airplay, they have to be a member of the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association, and that is incorrect. Infact, some artistes who are not Zimura members have been receiving their royalties for a number of years now,” read the Zimura statement.
“In our response to Levelz via Instagram it was made clear to him that all he has to do is to notify the organisation, in detail all his works by filling out notification forms and split sheets which define in detail the share splits with the artists he has worked with so that each artist gets what is due to him.”
The diatribe by Levelz on Zimura comes at a time when artistes, most who are failing to make ends to meet due to the Covid-19-induced lockdown, have awoken from their slumber and realise the importance of contracts and other prescribed agreements.
“These artistes now realise that there is Zimura and they now see the flaws in their contracts because they no longer generate income because of the Covid-19 lockdown. They should have awoken and smelt the coffee before they signed the contracts or subscribed to Zimura,” said a music critic who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“Now that they know that something is wrong they should put their houses in order. They have been reaped of their money and this is the time to reorganise and monetise their projects for their own benefit.”