Draft National Music Policy – Your Comments are Welcome

IPKenya has received the draft National Music Policy prepared under the Ministry of Gender, Sports, Culture and Social Services.

The full Draft policy is available here. Please read it, spread the word and submit your comments here. Deadline is this Friday, 15 June 2012. Hurry!

Quick comments:

For the record, IPKenya is not against the Policy per se. All are encouraged to engage with this policy document and form their own independent views and opinions on it. IPKenya is merely playing devil’s advocate, as always.

“Music Education and Training”

Under this heading in the draft policy, there is a bullet that reads “Facilitating the Patenting of Kenyan music materials and works of art.”
Several questions come to mind: 1) does the term “Kenyan music materials” mean local/indigenous musical instruments or sheet music of Kenyan origin and creation; 2) Why patent? They’re already in the public domain. Patents and the music industry just don’t mix. (pun attempted). This section needs to be revisited.

“Documentation and Archiving”

A feelgood provision but almost likely to be impossible due to lack of resources. Digitising Kenya’s music (both past and present) for documentation, preservation and dissemination will truly be a mammoth task. IPKenya suggests that more government funds be directed to the Kenya Copyright Board which is already building a digital repository of all copyright works registered in Kenya including music. Reportoires gathered from the three music CMOs should also be pooled with that of KECOBO.

“Media and Advertising”

The gist of this heading appears to be promoting Kenyan content (especially music), use of Kenyan talent and expertise in public including broadcasts and in public institutions.
This is a positive initiative but must be backed up with amendments to the Communication Act and other relevant media laws to provide for incentives to promoters of local content as well as stiff penalties for defaulters.

“The Music Industry”

Under this heading, the focus on the development of a vibrant and productive Music Industry. IPKenya concedes that the administration of music matters in the country is also scattered across various Government bodies without any clear jurisdictional boundaries. However regulation of the music industry should be largely industry driven through self-regulation with state regulation coming in at the level of law making and policy formulation and implementation.
In this regard, IPKenya notes the absence of a Musicians’ Union in Kenya which could draw inspiration from successful unions in Kenya including the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), Central Organisation for Trade Unions (COTU) and more recently the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU).

Overall, this Policy proposes that a body to be named The Music Commission of Kenya be created to implement this policy. IPKenya suspects that the drafters of this policy may have been inspired by jurisdictions such as New Zealand where a similar structure is in place. One wonders how effective such a structure will be in Kenya where government agencies such as KECOBO are overstretched, underfunded, understaffed and have their hands full with administration of copyright and related rights in music among other works.

6 thoughts on “Draft National Music Policy – Your Comments are Welcome

  1. Hi Victor, thanks for sharing the document with me.

    A number of thoughts:
    1. At the tail end, the document talks about an implementation plan in the appendix, but there’s nothing there…

    2. As for the formation of the Music Commission of Kenya, commissioners are to be drawn from various industries/sectors. I find Popular Music/Popular gospel music, listed as the first, and ‘religious music’ listed fifth to be vague. Also how many commissioners will this proposed body have?
    3. Consideration of technology is wanting, in my opinion. The blank tape levy proposal, how does it translate to the primary medium of direct music interaction in Kenya, the mobile phone?

    4. This document was drafted in 2007 as noted on the first page. What has hindered its adoption since?

    5.A lot of what the draft policy highlights seems bent towards ‘traditional music’. In a globalized world, especially in the digital era, it may well be that the Kenyan’s musical taste palate is more inclined to the ‘sounds of the world’ so-to-speak. So while it’s important to archive our country’s music history, it may be a bit of a stretch to envision our ‘traditional’ music taking centre stage.

    6.On .’establishing a national academy for the teaching and learning of music in its diverse cultures’- does this incorporate the ‘global’ culture?

    7.On ‘ensuring that at least 50% of the music content aired is Kenyan’- what is the definition of Kenyan in this context? Is it content generated by a person of Kenyan nationality, or is it content that is perceived to be a ‘Kenyan’ sound?

    8.’Ensuring that airwaves enhance the local cultures and promote common good’-how? Rather, how is common good defined?

    These are some of the things that have jumped out at me from a preliminary analysis of the document.

    What’s next?

    • Nanjira, you raise many valid concerns. I have sent word out to the drafters of this Policy and requested them to respond via the blog comments. Let’s wait and see if someone does.

  2. “Facilitating the Patenting of Kenyan music materials and works of art.” This heading is ridiculous. Nowhere in the world can one “patent” music. In every jurisdiction it is the realm of copyright. Many people use the terms “patent” and “copyright” interchangeably, and it is completely misleading and incorrect. The drafter of the bill should know better.

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