How to Maximise Music Royalties in Malawi

To make sure everyone is on the same page here, a blank media not considered a type of royalty. Blank media levies are fees collected from the sale of blank media, such as CDs, DVDs, and other recordable media, to compensate copyright holders for potential private copying of their work.

While both blank media levies and royalties involve compensating creators for their work, they operate under different mechanisms and are distinct concepts in the realm of music rights and compensation.

Blank media levies are typically collected by collective management organizations and distributed to rights holders, but they are not classified as traditional royalties.

Consumption of music through personal use

The collected funds are then distributed to rights holders through a managing organization such as Cosoma, striking a balance between consumers’ right to make personal copies and creators’ need for compensation. The effectiveness and fairness of blank media levies vary and are subject to ongoing debate.

Let’s explore some of the ways we can nurture the Malawian music environment for local artists to further unlock the revenues that can be generated from the different types of existing royalties.

Education: Music creatives, music businesses and PROs alike need to invest in promoting awareness and education within the Malawian music industry about the importance of royalties and how artists can benefit.

This journey should start from primary school all the way up to the university level of education if we are going to truly unlock all the potential revenue and growth the Malawian music industry has to offer. Citizens can be more informed about things such as intellectual property, copyrights and how those elements affect their consumption of creative works. We would finally edge closer to putting the right price on the value creative works add to our societies after understanding the processes behind making music and creating business out of it.

Collecting Societies: Serious investment going into strengthening and supporting Cosoma and any other future local collecting societies in Malawi to efficiently collect and distribute royalties would result in artists becoming more fairly compensated for their work.

As it stands, the lack of adequate equipment and infrastructures to monitor music plays and royalty generation means artists are being compensated only a fraction of what their creative works are truly worth. Without real understanding on how royalties are calculated and distributed, it becomes a difficult task to track or study the factors that can contribute to artists generating higher royalties and unlocking other streams of income from the local music industry.

See Also

The music business is not a stand-alone industry

Government Support: A combination of individuals, companies and any music supporting entities advocating for government support and policies that protect the rights of musicians and facilitates the efficient collection of royalties would ensure more fairness in how all artists are dealt with and the kinds of opportunities they receive to support their careers.

Technology Infrastructure: Consistent improvement of digital infrastructures to enhance online distribution and monetization of music would help ensure that artists benefit from digital performance royalties. Consistent and continuous investment in the technology infrastructure in the music industry would help Malawi catch up to some of the best performing music markets in the region. One of the major reasons why other African music markets continue to perform better than the Malawian music market is in the level of investment made in the technology infrastructure that supports the creative and music industries. Read more on some of the technology infrastructure that could support the Malawian music industry.

Industry Collaboration: So far, collaborations in the Malawian music industry favour male artists and creatives; they are doing a great job at working together to grow each others’ fanbases. It would be awesome to see something similar amongst the female artists and creatives as well. Collaborations have been a major contributor to artists and producers generating significant royalties and growing their audiences.

More collaborations within the industry, including record labels, broadcasters, and streaming platforms, would help create a cohesive environment that supports the maximization of royalties for artists.

What other ways could Malawian artists explore to unlock other streams of income from their music?

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