Kenyan music industry was at its best between the year two thousand and the year two thousand and five. Leading recording labels were churning out proper hits one after the other, competition was stiff, healthy and beef was real. Unlike now that artists bash each other on social media on dubious grounds just to get more likes for hating. Back then secular was doing better than what is now called ‘gospel’. Secular artists who would make it to the A-list left the country at the prime of their career, junky promoters and brokers checked in killing the game and opened the market for foreign content. That’s how secular music went down and left for a few cartels that are the producers, the promoters, the artists and at the same time sit on collecting management organization boards (CMOs).
Gospel struggled through tough times and became the best with artists getting shows, Djs and Radio/TV gospel shows playing over 90% local content. It became so lucrative that some secular artists crossed over just to realize the business side of their struggling career or talent but the winds of change are blowing in a bad crop of individuals for the gospel fraternity. Units have been formed by key gospel Deejays and social media big wigs and only play records from artists signed to their units or close to them. One such unit is Dj Mo’s system Unit which has producers and artists such as Hopekid, Bahati, Willy Paul and many more signed to it. Dj Mo formed the unit together with Dj Sadic who later left to form Genius Entertainment; their styles of operations are more or less the same. These units literally control what Kenyans will consume given the fact that they own the major gospel shows.
Bahati and Willy Paul Msafi
It is reported that rapper Ecko Dydda’s music is now not getting airplay because he lost his friendship with the System Units C.E.O, Dj Mo. Established and upcoming artistes now have to be affiliated to these Units to have their songs played. A trend that is only benefiting their groupies and sycophants. This is killing the game, people need to stick to their day jobs, Dj stick to your ones and twos, artistes stick to singing and performing. These days Djs are the producers, the promoters and the presenters at the same time. Monopoly is bad and dictatorial.
These units have in fact moved to controlling awards. Celebrated Groove Awards which is the biggest gospel music awards in the region meant to fete its players will soon have its good days behind. Djs from the said Units have never missed in any nomination list even when they are not at the top of their game, DJ Mo and Sadic will always be nominated and they are always the key Djs spinning at the ceremony. Their influence does not stop here; these units have a strong base in corporate world too, even in secular functions. Some events have a secular desk and another for gospel desk for Dj Mo
Lack of proper laws in place is blamed on the amazing prevalence of cartels, CMOs (Collecting Management Organizations) MCSK, PRISK and KAMP make another strong ring of cartels. Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK) and Performers Rights Society of Kenya (PRISK) have a duty to collect royalties and distribute to its registered members. The organization has for a long time been accused of not paying its members. Celebrated gospel artiste Ringtone once had an issue with MCSK, accusing them of enriching themselves when musicians languish in poverty.
Kenya Association of Music Producers (KAMP) whose role is to collect mechanical rights of production is accused of double pay. Producers charge artistes for production and when the song performs well they still line up to ‘eat’ from the artistes in the name of mechanical rights. Many artistes are in disagreement with this and some producers also claim that this money is collected but it never reaches them. Only a few producers like R Kay rip big from this because they sit on the board or their friends do. Individuals like these are bad for the industry, the same people coming in different names to confuse and steal from the artistes at every stage. Music is a big industry that has the potential of employing many youths but that only be realized if cartels are done away with and sanity brought in.
DJ Mo and his wife Size 8
Brokers steal from unsuspecting artistes. Liberty Afrika for instance is known for exploiting artistes. Celebrated gospel singer Eunice Njeri has come out clean to reveal that she made millions on skiza but cannot receive her returns because Liberty Afrika claims to own her music. It’s clear cartels are killing the gospel music but who of the industry players has the secret to putting the crucial pieces of this puzzle together???
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