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‘We are not to blame!’

'We are not to blame!’

COSBOTS give their Thebe’s worth

In the midst of an unwelcome return to the limelight following their latest royalty pay-out, in which some members received a solitary Pula, the Copyright Society of Botswana (COSBOTS) insists it is not to blame.

Although the second and final lap of COSBOTS’ Distribution 13 amounted to P6.7 million, the bulk of the cash, 71.9 percent went to international artists, with locals scrambling for the remaining 28.1 percent.

The handout was completed last week, and, despite the international/local divide, it was in fact a homegrown act that received the biggest chunk of change, awarded P65, 000 in royalties.

According to their Top 500 earners list, 500th place was worth P1, 500.

On the other end of the scale, some artists took to social media to vent their displeasure at receiving a total of P1 in royalties for their works.

In a bid to clear the confusion, COSBOTS acting CEO, Onalenna Gaontebale spoke to Voice Entertainment.

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Gaontebale admits that whilst there are several areas to cover for the organisation to fully satisfy its members, when it comes to the final distribution of royalties and who received how much, they are not the body to be blamed.

According to the acting CEO, of the more than 16, 000 works currently registered with the society, only 18 percent of the songs are being played on radio and other platforms.

“We do not play the songs. Our mandate is not to ensure that local songs are being played on radio or TV, ours is to monitor how long the songs receive airplay, unfortunately, that is just how it is!” he clarified.

Gaontebale conceded it does not look good when, after working so hard, someone receives P1 for a year’s worth of effort.

“But what should be clear is how that money came to be. The question is, is your song being played on radio and TV? If yes, how much airplay has it received and calculated by the standard price per song?

“Royalties are not an entitlement. They are earned; your musical work must have been on rotation. We have a system that monitors songs in real-time.”

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Indeed, the acting CEO told Voice Entertainment some members did not receive a single Thebe.

“The disgruntlement is with us because maybe we are the ones who pay people but it should lie elsewhere,” he reiterated.

Asked how much each song costs, Gaontebale explained, “How much a song cost is distribution period-specific, it cannot be determined beforehand. It is determined by the money at hand. And the price per song is the same across – meaning the price per song set for an American artist is the same for local artists.”

Stressing further why COSBOTS is not to blame, Gaontebale said, “We sit at the downstream of the business. If people play songs say only from ATI, the winner takes it all from where we stand. Copyright law is very straightforward: we pay for work used we don’t pay because artist X is a certain artist – No!”

On the way forward the acting CEO said they are working on how to avoid the bad PR. He said they are still pondering on whether to have a threshold minimum of how much they will distribute to avoid having people receiving as little as P1 or even nothing.

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