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Wrangle over Elephant Man show


Some sectors of the local music industry are warring over the upcoming Elephant Man show.

Show promoter Clint Robinson, who has signed the Jamaican dancehall star to perform at Andy Millar Hall in Harare on June 24, has confronted Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (Zimura), through the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (NACZ) over a copyright fee that he is “mandated” to pay.

Zimura is demanding $300 from Robinson in copyright fees that, the association says, every promoter bringing in an international artist should pay towards copyrighted music material that is usually played at such shows, which are not the performing artist’s original compositions.

Email correspondences between the three parties that are in NewsDay’s possession reveal that Robinson engaged NACZ for clarity as to what the copyright fee meant and whether it was legally mandatory for him to fork out such an amount towards an unclear end.

Robinson paid a copyright fee to Zimura when he hosted Sean Kingston a couple of months ago and after a similar request for the payment for Elephant Man’s show, the promoter sent an email of inquiry to Elvis Mari, NACZ director.

“There is a fee I paid for the last concert (Kingston’s tour). To be honest I am not sure what I paid for, I just thought to avoid issues I would pay it (sic),” wrote Robinson.

“It has come up again and now I would like someone to shed light as to what this payment is for, as when I went through the requirements of hosting an international artist there was no mention of this fee . . .”

In response, Mari wrote: “Thank you for raising this and letting me know of this. I am not aware of such a requirement. There is no legal requirement to my knowledge of such a fees (sic).

“I have checked with my deputy director and he is equally in the dark about such a fee for live shows . . .”

This communication was copied to Zimura and the association’s director, Polisile Ncube, says she was surprised to learn that Mari did not know about the fee when he was privy to Zimura’s operations.

She wrote a letter to Mari that has the following extracts:

“Allow me to clarify the rationale behind Zimura licensing for promoters of live shows. Kindly note that it has come to our attention that performers at live shows as well as their supporting performers and DJs always play some materials that belong to members of Zimura and /or its associates around the globe . . .

“The reasonable blanket licence cover which is charged by Zimura covers against the possibility of a criminal penalty that would be born (sic) by the party promoting the show, should an artist or DJ play a song that does not belong to her but to one of our members or associate’s members.”

After explaining the modalities involved in coming up with the fee, Ncube went on to pour a barrage of criticism on Mari.

“We hope and trust next time you do not know something about us, you will ask before you tell the public or our client that you do not know what we do because in the eyes of the public NACZ should know everything about arts regulation in Zimbabwe.”
Mari, Robinson and Ncube confirmed making the statements above.

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