New ethnic music royalty fee bad for business and artistes too, say Sabah cafe and bistro owners


(3rd left) Alvin Quek Totu with the other bar and cafe owners around Penampang.

KOTA KINABALU: Cafe, bar and bistro owners in Sabah's Penampang district are saying no to the enforcement of another form of music royalty payment set to be in place from Sept 1.

The group's representative Alvin Quek said these outlets were already paying royalty to artistes, both local and international, through the national body Music Authors' Copyright Protection (MACP) Bhd.

Payments are also made to Public Performance Malaysia Sdn Bhd (PPM) and Recording Performers Malaysia Berhad (RPM), he added.

ALSO READ: Making sure artistes get paid for their music (https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2022/08/16/making-sure-artistes-get-paid-for-use-of-their-music)

“This month we received a letter from a new entity, Music Rights Sabah Berhad (MRS), asking us to apply and pay for the licence fee to use local ethnic music in our operations,” he said.

He said this was akin to punishing local bar and cafe owners who are still struggling to restart their businesses following two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We want to make a stand here. We do not agree to this new licensing and we feel that those in MACP and MRS should work together for the benefit of the artistes they represent,” hge said here on Monday (Aug 22).

He said paying for another licence specifically for ethnic songs was an additional cost to business owners who have already paid for the various licences they need to operate, not to mention the short notice given.

ALSO READ: Sabah seeks to protect indigenous artistes' compensation rights over licensing, royalty distribution (https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2022/04/24/sabah-seeks-to-protect-indigenous-artistes039-compensation-rights-over-licensing-royalty-distribution)

He asked why MRS did not think of ways to work with MACP instead of acting on its own and adding to business operators' burden in the process.

“Members of the MACP who represent local artistes from Sabah should try their best to fight for whatever financial disputes they have, not come after us (business owners) to get more payment,” Quek said.

He said there were too many unclear terms for this proposed new licensing, including the definition of "ethnic".

He invited MRS representatives to sit down with all the outlet operators to come up with a better approach.

Quek said should the worst come to worst, the outlets may simply opt not to play any Sabahan music on their premises to cut down on costs and avoid any legal action.

ALSO READ: MRS now licensing body for Sabah music royalties, says Nanta (https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2022/01/17/mrs-now-licensing-body-for-sabah-music-royalties-says-nanta)

“In the end, the artistes will be the biggest losers. I have many artiste friends and I know that they need to (earn more) royalties – but not this way,” he said.

Online radio operators and other industries that use music in their operations are concerned as they too are reportedly covered by the new MRC licence requirement.

Kupi-Kupi FM general manager Lester Miol said while the community-based radio station – one of Sabah's largest – sees the point of the new licensing, he also believed that it was being rushed through.

ALSO READ: Sabah's ethnic associations urged to continue promoting diverse cultures (https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2022/06/04/sabah039s-ethnic-associations-urged-to-continue-promoting-diverse-cultures)

“So what happens to the other licences that we pay for? Do we still pay or not?” he asked.

Miol said before a new licensing requirement is enforced, its method of being regulated must be made clear.

“MRS and MACP need to sit down. Talk about it and also have a town hall with industry players," he said.

He said being sent a letter asking for payment for the new licence was not enough.

“Broadcasters also need proper documentation to read through and understand. We need to see how everything works and what are the things we have to pay for,” Miol said.

He said it was vital for all parties to sit down together, hear out every side's position, and try to find common ground from which to move forward.

Last week, MRS managing director Asmin Mudin said it was prepared to face a difficult road ahead in implementing the new licensing requirement.

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