Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Music Industry Consortium Conference 2015 at Hotel Africana

Last month on 19th May, I was privileged to attend the MIC 2015 at Hotel Africana which was organized by Bankable society in proud association with Yamaha, Ministry of Gender, Labor and social development, URA and NSSF. 

The conference began at 09:00am with a breakfast session where we had the opportunity to mingle with everyone else. I noticed that the musicians, music promoters stuck to their crowd as was the case with the digital media fraternity (bloggers, social media).

The morning session was a great deal of presentation from Richard Kawesa of Bankable society and Isaac Rucci on technical aspects of what why and how the association was to be formed and run. The Music Industry Consortium (MIC) is a private-sector led initiative that works with the Creative fraternity, the global business community and Government as its lead partners. MIC exists to facilitate the profitability of music business.

The chairman of music association in Uganda, highlighted that last year alone, the music industry generated 3billion UGX from electronic revenue but only 1.5 m UGX was collected which is an utter loss to the artists who earn a livelihood from their craft.

Sadly, the majority of the artists did not pay much attention to this session until we arrived at the selection of the executive which would handle the day to day execution of activities on the Music Industry Advisory Board under the MIC. 

The likes of the Eagles production lead songstress started off on her own conversation while Moze Radio finally stormed out with his 4 man entourage 40 minutes into the deliberations only to be found hanging out on the roof top at lunch time. Most of the music heavyweights did not turn up however much to my surprise, Bobi Wine graced the occasion and gave it the utmost attention for the entire morning session while he was there. So much so that he made each member of his entourage of 6 take note and share with him what they had personally learnt from it.

In the first 10-year-phase of MIC operations, M.I.A.B (Music Industry Advisory Board) will focus on finding solutions to the question of music profitability. These solutions will be guided by the resolutions that emerge from the annual Music Industry Conferences.
The theme of the conference was “the social, economic and political impact of music,” and the key note speakers were Doris Akol - Commissioner General URA, Richard Byarugaba – MD NSSF and Adenrele Niyi Project director AFRIMA (All Africa Music Awards).

In the afternoon, Commissioner General Ms. Akol presented a paper on the economic potential of the music industry in Uganda and there was an interactive session which followed as well as the rest of the speakers.

This in my opinion was the most telling session what the musicians’ take away really was, while a few of the attentive music artists asked questions, not everyone in attendance gave constructive input. A female veteran musician attempted to create controversy over who would manage the board and why they could not continue with the old and dormant association.

Isaac Rucci and Richard Kawesa addressed her concerns but this reminded me of why Uganda as a whole is not moving forward as briskly as it should in terms of development. The music fraternity is a wonderful example of where the problem is, much as there is a cross section of promoters and musicians who understand what needs to be done to move forward there is an equal number of the negative complainers who detest anything new whether it adds value to them or not.

A few of the questions asked by the musicians and music promoters can be seen below.
1.        Why do we pay tax for concert venue, promotional banners in the city and then on clearing our goods at customs (C.D’s, Cars)? Isn’t that over taxation?
2.       How are we supposed to make money and yet we are taxed from every side?
3.       How is the government protecting our income and source of livelihood using the copy write?
4.      How is electronic revenue going to be managed?
5.       Why doesn’t URA explain these costs to us in a session?

The questions listed above are just a limited spectrum of what was asked but the most beneficial feedback in my point of view came from Balam of Balam entertainment. 

After he extensively explaining issues to do with VAT monthly remittances, payment of annual tax returns to his fellow music promoters, musicians and bands present, he asked the URA and KCCA to generate a standard fee for concert venues. 

He highlighted the fact that musicians want to pay tax but they clearly need to be explained to about the taxes that directly affect them.
It was an eye opening session for many when NSSF MD followed informing the audience of opportunities for them to save as individuals for better financial management for their retirement. A few individuals had a follow session with him at the close of the event where they discussed the finer details of the saving plans. The moral of the story is we need to stop making excuses and start to sort out the issues to do with our music industry now so that we can reap the benefits of our hard work. Sadly, the heavyweights did not turn up to this event and when legislation is passed on taxation of musicians after this session where views were collected, they will complain they were not informed.

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