Artistes are crying foul over the pittance they are being paid in royalties

Unhappy with low royalty payouts, artistes are asking for a bigger share of the millions of ringgit collected by the music industry.

Prominent musician, producer and composer Aznan Alias, who has been in the music scene for 25 years, claimed that he received only RM300 (S$117) annually from PRISM Sdn Bhd between 2004 and 2012.

"When I questioned the paltry amount, I was labelled a troublemaker. The excuse given was that there were problems getting the business outlets to pay up," he said.

When PRISM Sdn Bhd wound up in 2012, he received a final payment of RM11,000, he said. The company has since been replaced by PRISM Bhd which has yet to distribute any royalty fees.

"Besides producing my own albums, I was a sessionist on many other hit records. How were the royalties calculated? Artistes have a right to know how much they are entitled to," he added.

Malaysian King of Pop Datuk Jamal Abdillah claimed he has not received any royalty fees over the last two years despite having "so many albums".

Taiwan-based Soo Wincci called on Malaysians to support local artistes by paying them their due royalties.

The local beauty queen turned singer-actress said music royalties are an important source of income for recording artistes overseas and served as an incentive for them to produce more good music.

"The royalties I receive from the Malaysian market are not high but they still mean a lot," she said, adding that it would take time to develop a sound royalties collection and distribution system.

Blues Gang vocalist Ito Mohd said his band received only 5 per cent from the royalties distributed by his recording company.

"For 35 years, the company profited from my songs. Can you imagine five of us in the band sharing 5 per cent of royalty money? That's 1 per cent for each member," said the former RPM member who has joined PRISM Bhd.

Singer-actress Deja Moss of Kuching, a PRISM Bhd member, received between RM200 and RM300 annually from 2004 to 2010 and a total of RM8,000 for 2011 and 2012.

"I have questions about previous payments but I don't know who to ask. Performers should get a fairer share of royalties because it is our sweat and blood," she said.

Reggae artiste Sasi The Don felt that only one body should be allowed to collect royalties for performers and urged all businesses that play their music to pay the fees because "this is our rice bowl".

PRISM Bhd and rival group Recording Performers Malaysia (M) Bhd (RPM) both collect royalties on behalf of artistes.

Datuk Sheila Majid said that as a longtime recording artiste and RPM chairperson, it was her "duty and responsibility" to ensure that royalties were collected and paid out in the most credible, efficient and transparent manner.

"RPM was established in 2011 to recognise and remunerate, through royalty payments, members who have been arduously involved in the creation of music recordings," she said, promising to keep true to the objective.

RPM has over 500 local and 53,000 affiliated international members.