A 2016 report from Price Waterhouse Cooper shows that the two major music industries in Africa is in Nigeria and South Africa.
While both industries are trending upwards, growing, outside of population size, others are striving to meet up.
While Kenyan artists definitely have a different sound, and can go punch for punch with any other African industry
The problem is that they’re not getting paid for it.
So what lies at the root of this problem, why do the two other major ‘hub’ countries in Africa, that of South Africa and Nigeria, outstrip Kenya’s industry by such a wide margin?
The first and obvious aspect of this is that the Kenyan government just flatly doesn’t give a damn about the development of arts in the country.
They may say otherwise, but actions and follow through always speak louder than words.
For instance, the messy state surrounding the Music Copyright Society of Kenya.
It’s the body overseeing the royalties from airplay for artists in Kenya.
They’ve been embroiled in a court battle since the early stages of 2018 over their alleged ‘eating’ (stealing) funds.
Victor Seii, a staple of the Kenyan music scene since the early 1990’s and his days with Five Alive,
seconded these suspicions about the practices of the regulatory bodies
“MCSK was just totally eating nearly all the money and not informing the artists!
It happened that way for years.”
Such practices resulted in a systematic underpaying of Kenyan artists, and it’s awful hard to invest in yourself when you don’t have the cash to do it.
Meanwhile, the issue with Kenyan music growing influence is body that’s supposed to handover the money doesn’t do so.
To deepen the rift, the government simply doesn’t support the industry.
The money doesn’t ever gets to the right people to further the sector.
For starters, it is extremely rare that musicians get their seat at the decision making table.
Instead things are seemingly passed down from on high, without much thought to if they will actually help.
However, Fena Gitu, a force in Kenyan hip-hop for nearly a decade now, hit the nail as close to the head as anyone,
“In Kenya we have yet to have that kind of financial and moral support as a country,
but times are changing and we’re slowly but surely catching up.”
Sooner or later, the music in Kenya is going to be putting everyone else on notice. At this point, it’s simply a matter of time.