Ever since its formation a few years back, Copyrights Society of Botswana (COSBOTS) have received criticism as a collective society from both the artists, arts practitioners and the industry at large.
This led to a feud of the organisation’s Management that saw some of the artists ‘boycotting’ the society, questioning its mandate and the criteria used to calculate royalties, some criticising it for bringing the industry into discrepancies. However this week WeekendLife Editor, DAVE BAAITSE unravels a new digital technology that aims to solve the mystery that continues to mask the arts industry.
The new platform known as StreamBW is a robust online platform that avails the opportunity where artists can store, tag, playlist, share and market their music assets to prospective buyers. Developed by a local young social entrepreneur and music artist, Kebaswele Kebaswele, the platform does not limit anyone; it will even extend to young upcoming artists who found it very hard to breakthrough. According to Kebaswele, they found it befitting to come up with the concept because of the unfairness and opaque that surrounds the distribution of royalties.
Kebaswele said, in the next two months, they will be running the trial of the concept before registering artists. Asked about the involvement of COSBOTS, he said they have thoroughly engaged with COSBOTS as they are the main collective society and they have agreed on common grounds on the new initiative which they deem to be beneficial to all. “We have agreed with them, some artists will sign directly with us and others will sign with them, it will depend with artists”, said Kebaswele in an interview this week.
He brought to light the fact that the new concept will use the Universal Streaming formula in terms of the rates for royalties. Artists will subscribe for a small fee for a period of twelve months and they will pay as little as 9% of their royalties when they are registered directly with them, a percentage that will be slightly less than what COSBOTS is currently charging artists.
Kebaswele said they have also engaged Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) who also gave thumps up to their concept. They are currently working with them to develop a legal framework that will enhance a smooth sale of the new digital platform. “Our marketplace provides music buyers with intuitive search and discovery tools as well as thematically and topically- curated playlists, allowing them to find and license the music they need quickly and painlessly. Additionally, our system facilitates easy administrative clearances by providing disparate, interested parties, such as writers, publishers and producers with a means by which to connect their fractional ownership shares and thus make the content available for licensing”, he said.
Kebaswele said they are committed to maintaining transparency with their music providers and clients. He is of the view that their right holders maintain complete control over pricing and choose to make their music available for automated transactions or elect to only accept offers from potential buyers.
“Music buyers, such as brands, creative agencies, music supervisors, filmmakers, and advertisers now benefit from having access to an incredible selection of music that has been designed with their uses in mind. Music that can be discovered, licensed or purchased, easily and efficiently”, he narrated. According to Kebaswele there is too much transparency in regard to this online platform.
“This thing is self calculated and each and every artists can calculate for themselves how much they made per month but the royalties will be paid annually, there will be no cheating”, he said. He also revealed to this publication that in terms of music they will be staging StreamBW online musical awards annually. The awards will be based among other things the most downloaded song and the most streamed song or artist. Artists will have the opportunity to direct their fans to the stream using social media when they inquire about their songs.
The past week saw what detractors labelled social media piracy when Charma Gal’s new song which is believed to have leaked before its mastering and mixing was shared across all the platforms in social media, especially on WhatsApp. Kebaswele said this was an opportunity from a big artist like Charma Gal to have made more money and benefiting from the platform.
“After her last offer which took the industry by storm, it is evident that her fans have been waiting in anticipation for her new release, that is why the ‘demo song’ went viral and that was an opportunity”. He also said this platform will act as a music hub or data bank for local content more especially music. Right now when you want old music from legendary artists such as Stigga Sola or Stampore to just mention a few, you hardly get them or find nothing on the internet.
“Hollywood Productions come to Botswana to shoot movies but they hardly use our own music because there is nowhere they can find it, this is simply because it is not available online and only a few modernised have subscribed to iTunes”, he said. Amid in- brawls that continue to besiege COSBOTS, this week the industry woke up to the shocking revelations that founding chairman, Solomon Monyame, has resigned under uncertain and unclear circumstances.
Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA) is one organisation that was heard voicing out their grievances pertaining the concerns of the association and its dealings. However COSBOTS remains the only body that exists to protect the copyrights and paying royalties to registered copyright holders in the country.
There is a growing unpleasant of artists who do not pitch for events they have been booked for; or simultaneously, there could be another development – false advertising – where artists’ names are used to draw large crowds.
Musicians and promoters in their mission to put bread on the table seem to have resorted to obscene means of securing their means. To many, this is tantamount to fraud and deception to gain an unfair advantage over their unsuspecting fans who swoon at the mention of their name, their presence and entire existence.
The month of May has just begun and bottomless grievances are pouring in of no show musicians at gigs they have been booked and paid for. Instead of leaving the crowd stunned by a spectacular show they are leaving revellers disappointed.
Exhibit A; This past weekend Eswatini’s DJ Uncle Waffles was scheduled to perform in Botswana. She never pitched up for the shows and continues to be silent on her lack of presence at the show. Exhibit B; Maphorisa, Kabza De Small and Sha Sha were all set to perform on 29 April at the Victoria Falls Carnival 10th Anniversary but did not arrive in Zambia for the gig.
In a statement released on Sunday 1 May, Victoria Falls Carnival organisers confirmed that flights and accommodation were organised for DJ Maphorisa, Kabza De Small and Sha Sha. The statement continued; “Confirmations were sent to them as agreed and emails were sent to them several times before, for some reason they did not show up at the airport on the day of travel…
Above and beyond we tried to communicate with the artists to change the date of performance but still we could not get hold of them despite all the effort and all means of communication from our side,” Organisers have demanded that the artists refund them the full booking fee and the payments made for flights and accommodation
“All three artists were paid in full and contractually bound to perform at the Carnival, and accommodated at every corner with their numerous flight and accommodation change requests.” Adds the statement. Exhibit C; South African artist Prince Benza’s passport was confiscated by the Deputy Sheriffs pending payment for damages on breach of contract.
He was scheduled to perform at Mogobane on the 31st of December at the Reflector Music Festival but did not appear as well. He nabbed when he came into the country for a separate event. The President of Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA), Gilbert Seagile this week had his company; Gilbert Promotions registered in South Africa.
This puts him in an ideal spot to become an intermediary and help solve the feud between Botswana and South African artists and their no show at events. Seagile emphasized that it’s not only international artists that miss events but even the local artists have the same tendencies. He elaborated that reasons for artists not pitching up are many amongst them ; breach of contracts , promoters not paying deposits and some can be natural like artist testing positive for Covid-19.
The BEPA president also indicated that fly-by-night promoters are also a concern as they do not follow the BEPA Code of conduct, “BEPA members are well coordinated, they have the code of conduct which guides them to do things accordingly. The government is pushing for promoters to join BEPA they have already started refusing with permits when one is not a member of BEPA.” he emphasized
Seagile said that the association is in talks with the South African Music Promoters Association (SAMPA) to provide protection of Botswana Promoters that when artists miss shows they can be able to rope in their lawyers in South Africa through SAMPA and Botswana through BEPA to compensate for losses incurred as a result of this exploitation.
He said another way of dealing with this matter is for Promoters to issue a contract to the artist as currently the norm is that the artist produces the contract to the promoter so this solution can help the promoters to protect themselves.
In an interview with Weekendlife, Superintendent Tumediso of Urban Police Station enunciated that matters of no show artists are normally reported by the promoter who normally comes as the complainant. The matter is then taken forward taking into consideration the evidence, this will in turn assist in determining on whether the case is theft, obtaining by false pretence or fraud. When it is all said and done, revellers love musicians to hate them and hate them to love them. It is an unending toxic relationship which no one wants to pull away from.
As the creative industry is trying to resurface from the COVID-19 dust, the board chairperson of Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS), Bakalanga Mahoko, says the society is considering giving out relief funds to their members who have been hit hard by the COVID -19 induced restrictions. She noted that this will however depend on government’s response to their request for funds.
She told WeekendLife that the society has already written to government requesting funds. Once the request is approved, she says some of the funds will enable the society to embark on road shows across the country to sensitise the general public about COSBOTS. The road shows are designed to run for several weeks before the annual general meeting which is scheduled for May, 28th this year. Among other things, she says part of the money will be used as a relief fund for their members.
“As we are all aware, the industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 restrictions and some of our members were unable to raise money for their survival and that alone affected the industry. We anticipate that government will consider and approve our request and once it’s approved our members will smile all the way to the bank as their bank accounts will be credited by the COSBOTS,” she says.
She added that if things go according to plan, this will be the second time that their members would have been assisted through such an initiative. She said at the moment they have registered about 2800 members across the country and the board anticipates that the membership number will increase sharply.
“I am not yet in a better position to divulge the amount which each artist will be given because government has not yet responded to our request, but once that has been approved the society will announce,“ she says.
Mahoko was elected as the board chairperson sometime last year and has also been the first woman to lead such society which she described as “privileged”. “As many will recall, the society was in a mess and there were squabbles among members. There was also mismanagement of funds that resulted in the members, government as well as the public losing trust on the society and that dented badly the image of the society,” she says.
Mahoko further stated since she has been in office for more than a year, things now look much better and promising. The government gave the society a grant and that alone was a sign of trust from government. Recently COSBOTS distributed over P7 million as royalties.
With over 20 years in the business of publishing school books for both primary and high school schools as well as fuelling the imagination and guiding the soul of the youth. Collegium Education Publishers are continuing with their trailblazing mission by launching EBooks.
During the launch of the Ebooks platform recently, Naledi Ratsoma, Author and Founding Director of Collegium Botswana took the audience on a trip down memory lane. She disclosed that after falling out with a local publishing company, she established new ties with a publishing company in South Africa. “The adage don’t get mad, get even worked for us.
We decided we are going to get them, we are curriculum specialists we know what the curriculum is all about and what books should be to support the type of curriculum.” She said deep in thought. “The start-up was not easy, I was the general, manager, tea lady working from 6 am to 10pm. It was sheer determination and hard work that got the company going.
Today I feel honoured and excited, Collegium grew by leaps and bounds. Here we are today. Dare I call Collegium a success story? Yes I do, it is a resounding success story.” She uttered excitedly Looking into the future, Terrence Showa, Collegium CEO was tasked with only one job to do.
That job? Moving Collegium to digitization and joining the rest of the publishing world in transition towards the Fourth industrial revolution and a knowledge based economy. “Today I stay to you quite proud to be the first publisher in the country to launch the prescribed eBooks.” He said.
Showa mentioned; “I was told to come with a cheaper solution for government, after three years with meeting several Information Technology think tanks we came to the conclusion that Snapplify, gurus in providing eBooks and eLearning were in alignment with what we are looking for. Ebooks provide a simple solution for teachers, parents, students to use at their homes.
It will also be 30% cheaper for government to procure the books. An added benefit was the ability to give free content by Snapplify on the side of library service. ” He says the Ebook Platform has been fast tacked by the rural electrification program by government prioritizing the need to digitise books.
When speaking to the WeekendPost on the side after the event, Showa when questioned on matters of piracy which comes with the digital age, he enunciated that “as Collegium the failure of us to regulate the printing and photocopying of our books frustrates us daily. There are institutions who have committed to procuring photocopying machines to make copies of our books.
We are excited about eBooks because the licence procured when buying the book will run for only a year and will limit users to being able to photocopy and take screenshots of the books. One of the reasons Snapplify made sense to us is they know exactly what the challenges that come with digital platforms are. The content will only be downloadable into devices through a profile set up and limit the number of users on the site.”
For their presentation, Stephen Bestbier and Mark Seabrook from the Snapplify Team; the application is accessible everywhere with an offline feature to encourage data saving and reading offline, it is compatible with existing devices be it mobile, tablet and desktop. The simple library management functionality makes it easy to check out books and return them automatically to curb the ancient penalty of paying late return fees as well as avoiding d issues of lost book since it will be on an online platform.
The academic features include; a designated dyslexic friendly font, text to speech functionality, journal, bookmarks. The Elibrary provides for convenience as 24/7 access to learning, materials since the online library does not close like the traditional library. The support platform ‘teacha!’ also reliefs’ teachers in their work by building skills with accredited professional development courses and platform training.
Snapplify are leaders in Pan African educational technology with thousands of institutions across Africa with students and academic staff within the Snapplify ecosystem from primary schools to tertiary institutions.
Snapplify is the best eLearning solution with a comprehensive content catalogue with constant delivery and a proven track record of rolling out large government eLearning projects. Collegium’s vision has indeed come to pass to become market leaders in the provision of high quality teaching and learning materials for institutions in Botswana.