Malawi has switched to a digitalised system of monitoring music on radio stations, which is facilitating the distribution of royalties to musicians.
Copyright Society of Malawi (Cosoma) in collaboration with the Arts Production and Marketing Cooperative (APMC) is running the system by tracking songs played on different radio stations.
Cosoma distribution officer Shadreck Kumtengo said the system is in response to concerns by local artists on how their songs are monitored on radio stations.
He said: “Cosoma developed the automated music monitoring system to assist in tracking music airplay by the radio stations. For a long time artists have cried foul that their music is not tracked when played on various radio stations.
“The system uses radio frequencies and waves to match the airplay and the records in the database. Radio stations are rest assured that the system only tracks the musical content played and matches it with the database at Cosoma.”
Cosoma has contracted APMC to manage the system daily. To have their music tracked using the system, artists need to submit to Cosoma copies of their works with all the details.
Kumtengo said: “These are meta-data details; composer, arranger, date of creation, among others and the work is fingerprinted, entered into the system and given a unique digital ID. This process is carried out at a reasonable fee payable to APMC.
“Every time a song is played on the radio, it is matched with the records [meta-data] in the database and create entries, thus, frequency. Reports showing frequency, duration and timestamp of the music airplay are generated automatically and fed into distribution software.”
However, he said the system has not entirely replaced the use of manual log-sheets as only a few radio stations are linked to the system.
“This is the case until such a time when all music is fingerprinted and almost all stations are being monitored. This system aims to eliminate human intervention in reporting music airplay,” said Kumtengo.
So far, there are 10 radio stations linked to the automated music monitoring system, including MBC, Zodiak Broadcasting Station, Times, Yoneco and PL FM.
Commissioned on July 1 2020, the system has faced teething challenges, according to Kumtengo.
Depending on the success of the pilot project, similar projects will be devised to allow other players in the arts sector like filmmakers to also get royalties.
In a separate interview, APMC business executive Isaac Chingota said in monitoring songs played on radio, the digital audio tracking system produces an electronic report which Cosoma uses to calculate royalties due to the artists.
“The system does not calculate in terms of money but rather, it detects the song when it plays on radio. For the artists to register, they submit their songs either directly to us or through our agents who are available across the country and pay a registration fee.
“We are, therefore, encouraging artists to register and if they have any questions on how to do it, they can contact us to know the agent in their area,” said Chingota.
APMC is a cooperative of different arts associations whose main interest is to ensure artists make economic gains from their works.