By Ahmad Muto
Singer Sheebah Karungi’s new leadership role with the Uganda National Musicians Federation (UNMF) might have come with a dose of confidence and urgency to tackle some of the industry’s most pressing issues like copyright. However, she put the wrong foot forward on Sunday, May 14, 2023 when a tweet about Nigerian singers Wizkid and Tems made rounds claiming their chart-topping runaway hit Essence’s royalty collection totalled sh3.6 trillion ($964 million) in one year.
Music Base Africa wrote: “Huge!! The UK royalty collection and licensing company, PRS for music, has given Wizkid and Tem’s ‘Essence’ an honorable mention as the company breaks its annual royalty collection record with $964 million. ‘Essence’ has certainly earned Wizkid a lifetime fortune from royalty collections!”
It triggered Sheebah who delivered her Sunday sermon that she opened by preaching about unity as the silver bullet to realising gains like Wizkid and Tem’s. She stated that they either fight or the industry collapses like it is already doing.
“My fellow Ugandan musicians, this right here is the reason why we should stick together as one and fight for our royalties. And to do that, we must have our copyrights. @temsbaby & @wizkidayo made $964 million on just one song, ‘Essence’!” she wrote.
And the pointed criticisms where delivered;
“Bad Bunny had 18 million streams last year and he didn’t even make half of this, if you believe Wizkid made it from a song with less than 2 billion streams, then our problems are bigger that copyright,” wrote one critic in response.
“Dear Sheebah, let’s not use uninformed excitement. Drake has maintained an average of 15 billion streams over the past 6 years, yet his net worth is only $250 million. If you believe reports that Wizkid made $964 million from one song in one year with less than 2 billion streams, then issues at play beyond just copyright. Apply reasoning, not excitement,” wrote another.
The newly-formed UNMF, where Sheebah is a vice-president met with the Uganda Performing Rights Association last week to deliberate on royalties. They discussed the criteria of distribution of royalties in their rightful amount.