For a record, today has been my first time to see Ugandan Musicians be so united and eager to harmoniously agree and accept change as it appeared in their amidst. If you are to follow up on some past experiences with musicians, even on the recently passed but flopped draconian ‘Stage Plays and Public Entertainment Regulations’ by UCC, you will notice that all the changes introduced to the Industry are always ditched. But not this time round when a handful were invited for a stakeholder meeting for a demo tour on the NEW UPRS members’ portal which was also used as a chance to re-brand the image of the society. This was in partnership of the current caretakers of the society with URSB (Its regulators) and National Information Technology Authority of Uganda (NITA-U). For clarity purposes UPRS stands for Uganda Performing Right Society, a body that was formed by musicians and for musicians to specifically manage music rights, collect Royalties on behalf of its members and be able to equitably distribute these royalties back to the members.
Since its inception in 1986, the society has been dedicated to the above objectives and mandate not until its management was pinpointed for poor Administrative tendencies including unfair distribution of royalties, poor accountability and so much other reasons that later affected the its reputation to not only musicians as stakeholders but to also the music users that pay royalties and Uganda government that at some stage through the regulator (URSB) had to intervene.
In last year 2019, the government decided to suspend some managers and appoint temporary caretakers as interim managers of the society.
These included; Counsel Kabiito Karamagi (CEO), Ritah Baguma (Deputy CEO) and Anthony Mwandha (Restructuring Manager) who have since worked tirelessly to reposition the body back to its right path. And today 14th August 2020, the stakeholders were invited to be part of their effort to witness and help contribute to the re-branding and demostration of the NEW member system.
In my opinion, I think this was a long awaited step that asked for overhauling of all the inefficiencies caused in due course. This stakeholder meeting made us aware of what’s cropping up soon in the society, it also gives us hope that we can still steer formidable and positive change especially when we come together to support our own. The system and the whole make over now rhymes to this generation and specific to this industry that is mostly made up youth. As stakeholders, we always prayed to have a society that runs on the Principle of TAG, which in this case stands for;
G- Good Governance
We needed a society that is transparent enough not only to its members but also to the music users that give us these royalties. We have to shift our imagery from a body that’s against music users who default on paying their licenses to a team of trusted servicemen that collect Royalties for a service/product that boosts their business engagement. The society has to be accountable to the members with timely royalty statement reports, performer statistics and more.
Lastly, this society should flourish because of good governance. Let it have well placed and exposed professional members that steer the board towards growth and genuine decision making. This has been the right time to present these recommendations and we now think that the society has not merely changed its look and online presence, but this has been a necessary RE-BRAND.
David Tayebwa is a Ugandan musician (Guitarist), advocate, music tutor and African Musicprenuer. He is the Founder of Opus Music Holdings Ltd (a music rights management, Record Label and Music Royalty Financing Enterprise), a Music Copyright Expert and Music Administration Consultant.
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