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Musicians breathe fire over royalties


Mohalenyane Phakela

A MUSIC workshop organised by the Lesotho Music Rights Association (LEMRA) in collaboration with Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture almost degenerated into a fistfight between irate musicians and the organisers.

This was after the musicians took turns to accuse LEMRA and government of failing to serve their interests resulting in them receiving little if any royalties for their work.

LEMRA had invited Sheer Publishing co-owner Karabo Motijoane; South African Performance Rights Association (SAPRA) Legal Director, Advocate Ntsietso Mokitimi; Independent Music Performance Rights Association (IMPRA) Chairperson, Doda Monamodi; Victor Mampane who worked for South African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) for 20 years as the Key Accounts Publisher as well as Trevor Mahlori and Busisiwe Cebekhulu of the Moshito Music Conference and Exhibition to help equip local musicians with ways of generating revenue in South Africa.

Heated exchanges ensured during the question and answer session after local musicians took the opportunity to attack LEMRA board for failing to protect their rights.

They also accused the government of failing to pay adequate royalties.

Sentso, a Gospel and Afro Jazz musician, was the first with the accusations.

“We did a government gig in 2012 and to date we have not been paid for performing,” Sentso said.

“Besides that, I am one of those booked for the government’s music festival which will take place next week and I have been offered M3000.

“So how does the government expect promoters to pay us more when they pay this much?

“Payment from the government is taxed and I don’t understand this as we are not being paid royalties. LEMRA has not done anything to fight for us and yet they deduct 5 percent of our booking payments.”

Another musician, Fatere weighed in, accusing LEMRA of looking out for its own interests and things quickly heated up from that point.

The hall reverberated with the din of protesting musicians which appeared to unnerve the South African visitors, prompting LEMRA’s deputy president, Sechaba Moqoko, to ask the musicians to desist from washing their dirty linen in front of the guests.

One of the Tourism ministry officials, Thabo Leanya, refuted assertions that government had organised any gig.

“The festival in question is organised by LEMRA as part of the country’s national Arts, Innovation and Culture week which encompasses a variety of activities apart from music,” Leanya said, adding, there were 13 associations that would be funded by the ministry to showcase their products and offerings.


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