Deceased artists’ royalties with Nascam

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Helvy Shaanika

Ongwediva-Hundreds of thousands of dollars in uncollected royalties are lying in the coffers of Namibia Society of Composers and Authors (Nascam), an organisation that administers the royalties of living and deceased artists.

Some family members have not gone forward to register and claim the royalties of their deceased relatives, who were recording artists.

The NBC, as well as private and community radio stations pay a specific amount of money to Nascam for every song played on air and artists are paid royalties, depending on the number of times their songs are aired.

But a portion of that money remains unclaimed, as some of the deceased artists had not nominated beneficiaries prior to their deaths or had not registered with Nascam at all.
This is apparently due to lack of understanding of the organisation’s function, especially among elderly artists and their relatives.

The majority of unregistered songs are played on NBC’s Oshiwambo and Silozi radio services.

Nascam chief executive officer John Max recently confirmed to New Era that there were royalties belonging to deceased artists that have not been claimed for years.

According to Max, Nascam keeps the unclaimed money in its investment account, or on a separate account, while waiting for the owners or beneficiaries to claim.
“But if nobody comes forth to claim, after a while the money goes to our social fund. This is the fund that we use on cultural activities and other activities of the same nature,” said Max.

Although Max could not disclose how much in total of the unclaimed royalties were diverted to Nascam’s social fund, he said last year alone the national broadcaster paid N$1.4 million, of which N$140 000 went to the social fund.
Nascam has also established a fund that contributes to funeral services if a registered artist dies.

The musicians and composers association, however, takes its share before all the money is divided among all the registered artists (national and international), whose songs were played on local radio stations in the previous year.

Other moneys that go to Nascam’s social fund include the money for authors, composers and publishers that have failed to register their songs with Nascam. If an artist is not registered with Nascam, then his song is registered, as if it belongs to an unknown artist, and the associated royalties are kept in Nascam coffers.

When a song is played on a radio station, the original author gets 25 percent and the composer 25 percent, while 50 percent of royalties is paid to the publisher.
In the event that the artist authors, composes and publishes his own song then he/she gets 100 percent of the royalties.

Max said there are a number of songs that fell under the category of an unknown artist. He also advised family members of deceased artists, or artists who are not registered, to contact Nascam with relevant proof that they or their late relatives are indeed the original authors and artists of a specific song.

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