By Rosalia David
January - February 2016
Other Articles

The Namibian Society of Composers and Authors of Music (NASCAM)’s Chief Executive Officer John Max has revealed that there is potential in the country to exploit the music industry as a fully-fledged business venture for the youth.

Bubbling after NASCAM received N$4 million in the 2014/2015 financial year, Max told Prime Focus Magazine that musicians still need to graduate to a level where they see themselves as potential businessmen and able to make a living from their talent.

His call comes at a time when concerted efforts are being invested to widen the job market, and also stimulate growth in different industries to cater for the unemployed.

Max says music was once viewed as a hobby, but has proven that the industry can be lucrative, like any other business.

“Many artists don’t understand how we operate. They come to complain about the little money they  receive, but the amount we collect is not up to us but up to the number of times their music has been played on radio and television,” he says.

“The royalties we collect can be a sustainable amount, but there are people who actually do not benefit much from the collections, like the lowest we collected this time was N$2.86. But when the amount is that little, we wait for  royalties from other radio stations because these collections were only from the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) radio station”, he explained.

NASCAM is the only body in the country with the mandate to register authors of creative works, license all musical use in the country and to collect royalties or fees from those using these works.

It is also responsible for distributing these royalties to its members and those of sister organizations. Perhaps its most prominent responsibility is to fight against any form of piracy in Namibia.

Max stated that “musicians do not value their careers as artists but rather do it for fame, and fame does not bring bread onto the table.
A few musicians have gotten amounts of between N$11 000 up to N$25, 000 which is only an extra amount to their sales and performances as well as collections from other radio stations and broadcasters.”

The royalties are divided into two categories, which are the member’s social fund, with NASCAM deducting 10% from the collected amount to cover emergency incidents such as death or if the person is unable to do music anymore due to injury; and then administrative fees, which is 30% of what had been collected, and then distributes the money collected to the artists.

Max also reveals that the total amount of royalties collected for the year 2014 to 2015 is N$1 599 792, 28 from NBC radio alone, and the royalties to be distributed after deductions amount to N$959 875, 37.

 “We have done so much as an organization. Although we don’t get any assistance from the government, we have managed to pay all our members since our 1993 establishment, and we still continue to pay the deceased artists’ families,” he noted.

 Max further explains that “when an artist dies, the family continues to benefit from the artist’s royalties. I would gladly say that a few artists are making more money when they are dead than when they were alive, like Jackson Kaujeua. The amount is payable to their families fort up to 50 years.”

Max further notes that “the company’s growth depends on the growth of the country. When infrastructures are built like bars, they need music, so they need a licence for the jukebox.

That’s how we benefit, and when people do trade fairs, we also charge them for the music they are playing.”

Max, however, bemoans the fact that some musicians engage in alcoholism during work.

“I think musicians should start taking this business seriously. They can do this by going to musical classes because if one handles this career as a business, then people will treat you like a business person, and I want them to continue doing music related to the Namibian culture, instead of trying to sing like international artists,” he further states.

 “The other challenge is the importance of having a bank account. There are a few artists who do not own bank accounts of their own, but would rather use other people’s banking details to get their funds“, the official continued.

Meanwhile, Base FM Station Manager Marco Ndlovu told Prime Focus Magazine that “commercial radio stations are not doing enough to promote local music, that is why a few artists are not benefiting anything from their stations.

Even if they play local music, they would not play Gazza or The Dogg as an example, but artists should also not wait for radio stations to promote their music, they must promote their music and make sure the music is worth playing.”

In contrast, Kosmos Radio Station Manager Kolie Van Coller admits that “we do play local music, but we can’t be playing the same music all the time. Local artists should make sure to provide new products.”