The country’s composers and musicians are banking on wasafi.com to improve earnings generated from their work.
The online music selling platform was created by Tanzanian international recording artist and entrepreneur Naseeb Abdul, popularly known as Diamond Platnumz.
The platform, which will soon be unveiled in the country, is expected to reduce copyright infringements. Creatives, under their umbrella association Rwanda Society of Authors (RSAU), recently announced user tariffs that will come into force starting July.
It is hoped that this will create a new revenue stream for artistes since they will be able to sell their songs online.
Despite an increase in local music, artistes still find it difficult to make money from direct sales of their music.
“What kills art is piracy, because you cannot monetise your talent,” Lee Ndayisaba, the project co-ordinator of wasafi.com in the country recently told Rwanda Today.
Mr Ndayisaba believes the platform will increase the sale of local music.
“Imagine if 100,000 people download a song at Rwf800 ($1),” he said. “This figure is possible.”
Angel Mutoni, a local rapper, said the requirement of using credit or debit cards to pay for online music had made it difficult for many ordinary citizens to buy music.
She added that businesses like broadcasting stations get to use their music without paying for them.
However, the royalty tariffs announced a fortnight ago will require businesses that use music such as hotels, supermarkets, broadcasters and other entertainment venues to pay a set amount. The money will then be given out to artistes.
The royalty tariffs will be calculated based on the percentage of music content a business uses annually. For example, a station whose content is 50 per cent local music will be charged five per cent of its annual gross revenue.
However, local media companies argue that they are playing a promotional role when they play local music.
Nadine Bwiza, the chief executive officer at RSAU said the tariffs are affordable and are the lowest in the region. The association plans to carry out an awareness campaign that will target the affected businesses.
The royalty tariffs may face other challenges such as musicians that do not have copyrights for their work, while others do not mind their music being played for free on local stations.
Ms Mutoni blames this attitude on musicians relying on concerts as the main revenue stream and so do not mind their music being played on local stations for free.
“People are more interested in performing at concerts than selling their music,” she said.
While there are other global music selling platforms available such as iTunes and Spotify, they mainly serve the international market and so local musicians who may not be relatable to a global audience may not benefit from these platforms.
Currently almost all artistes on wasafi.com are from Tanzania. But, Mr Ndayisaba said several Kenyan and Nigerian artistes have expressed interest in joining the platform. He stressed the potential of local music.