The music industry has been hit hard by coronavirus with live performance revenue the biggest casualty. A three-month shutdown is estimated to cost the industry millions in sponsorships, with longer delays being even more devastating.
The industry is fighting back with new ways to monetize music consumption and innovative models: Iharare hosting a number of online live shows, Passion Java has also hosted a number of Gara Mumba live concerts that attracted nearly a million live viewers.
Zimura has proposed extending the kind of blanket licensing that allows radio stations to play music and will start including any digital service that wants to use recorded music.
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Zimura executive director Polisile Ncube-Chimhini, in an interview, said Zimura was in talks with producers of the shows to see how the artistes can get the royalties.
“Of late, there’s been a rise in online use of music and we believe the Covid-19 lockdown contributed to this rise. Our licensing department has engaged some of the online platforms, but the process was slowed down as we’re waiting for the approval of our new tariffs by the Ministry of Justice,” said Ncube-Chimhini.
The approval of the new tariffs will see Zimura charging online platforms for the use of music.
“The proposed tariffs that we sent to the Ministry of Justice are proposed charges for online use of music by owners of different platforms. Collecting royalties from online platforms will be done after identifying the platform and how the music is used. Thereafter, we’ll apply the tariff depending on usage,” she said.
A Blanket License for the Internet
In broad strokes, here’s how a robust Internet license for sound recordings would work. If you want to offer music to the public—if you want to start a streaming site, or let users exchange music, or share videos with music clips in them like TikTok users do—all you need to do is set up an account with a rights clearinghouse, like Zimura.
You pay the collecting society a monthly license fee that goes up with the number of users you have. If you have one user and Facebook has 2.5 billion users, then your license fee is 1/2,500,000,000 of Facebook’s fee. Something like that.
Zimura is a non-governmental revenue collecting society whose mandate is to protect and promote the rights of music composers, authors, and publishers in Zimbabwe.