Gospel stars in dispute over unpaid royalties

Gospel stars in dispute over unpaid royalties

Apr 02, 2018, 10:55 AM

Hlengiwe Mhlaba

The music industry has always been a shady place when it comes to the dealings that have taken place outside of the spotlight. 

These things are usually expected out of the more popular genres but a recent exposé has shown that even dirtier dealings have been taking place in the gospel music circles. The latest victim? Gospel artist Hlengiwe Mhlaba. The singer has come forward to share that R8.6million of her royalties have been stolen by fellow gospel artist and head of Big Fish Music Sipho Makhabane. 

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After hiring copyright lawyer Graeme Gilfillan though, it came to light that the amount was actually more. Out of her 90 songs that were collecting royalties through SAMRO only 24 were paying her 16.7% of what was due to her. These included her rendition of 'Rock of Ages', 'uJesu Uyalalela' and 'Mhlekazi'. The remaining 83.3% was given to an unknown DP, this very same DP who was taking the royalties from her 14 albums APART from the millions Makhabane was receiving from SAMRO without a formal contract in place. 

The 'Rock of Ages' singer had been recording multi-platinum albums for Sipho Makhabane since 2005 but never signed a contract with him. When she was given her sales and copyright statements by Makhabane a statement of R39.2 million with R4.5 million of that having been paid over 10 years. She believed that that money was for live performances and pointed out only 2 times when Sipho Makhabane paid her moneys amounting to R250 000 which he said were for royalties. 

City Press, through an investigation of Makhabane's sales figures, came to find that Hlengiwe was owed R8.5million for just pure CD sales. This would bring her total amount owed to R16million and this is without taking into account the digital side of things. 

Considering the healing power usually associated with gospel music it's sad to see that our artists are still subjected to exploitation of this calibre. We do hope that a resolution is found that will make sure that the affected party receives what's rightfully hers.

Main image credit: musicmag.co.za

Written by

Thobe D

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