In September 2020, I wrote passionately about the extent to which the then 24-year-old South African musician Master K.G. (real name, Kgaogelo Moagi) had reached the top with his Jerusalema song. This song had become the most popular in the world as every Tom, Dick and Harry was singing it. Just like the Covid-19 pandemic, it had touched every part of the world.
In the groove
With Fred Zindi
By July 23 2020, there were 6 004 010 views on YouTube and as of September 12, the views worldwide had exceeded 132 million. To sweeten the song and to put it into perspective, Master K.G. came out with a competition which is now popularly known as the Jerusalema Best Dance Challenge where acts such as Galaxy African Kids, 2020 and Tik-Tok’s Burble Entertainment were invited to enter the fray. The song made the world dance and at times K.G. was the one personally tweeting inviting people to make the song trend.
I have been in the music business for many years and I can proudly state that I have more experience in this area than Master K.G.
From my experience, I know that when a musician becomes successful and makes lots of money, there are many vultures that surround him. They want to reap-where they did not sow. They come in the form of advisers, managers, bodyguards and stage outfit designers. It looks like young Master K.G. has fallen into this trap.
Master K.G. comes from humble beginnings and while he totally owned 2020 by winning a lot of awards and gaining global fame, there has also been an expected amount of flexing on his part.
K.G. has flexed his new rides and new life of “catching flights, not feelings” and two weeks ago, he was seen flexing his “crazy bank balance” .
There’s no doubt that Master K.G. is enjoying the fruits of his labour after taking the world by storm with his hit song Jerusalema. He drives the latest fancy cars and now lives a luxurious life, but when he flexed about his gauped bank account, his sensible fans and advisers reminded him to stay humble.
There was no need to show the world how many millions he had earned. I don’t know how many times I have told young and upcoming musicians to remain humble even when they become successful in their careers because there is truth in the expression: “Be nice to those you meet on the way up because you will meet them on your way down.”
The hitmaker posted a snap of himself concentrating heavily on his phone, and in the caption explained he was busy checking his bank account, which he described as “lit”.
Now listen to this: Despite the millions of dollars Master K.G. and his record company, Warner Music South Africa, have made, Master K.G. has hogged the limelight in South African newspapers where it was explained his record company plans to bill companies that used Jerusalema and the viral Jerusalema Challenge for commercial profit. Master K.G.’s record label company demands licence fees for using the song in videos to advertise their own products and services, and German government entities are on the list. It is obvious that Master K.G. has got the wrong advice from his management team. In my opinion, he is becoming “greedy”and to this end, I will give him unsolicited advice on this issue.
His management team and some friends agreed that some companies did not join the worldwide challenge because they loved the song but to hijack the global trend for commercial purposes.
They added that those companies were getting international advertising campaigns at zero cost. But didn’t K.G. ask people to join the Jerusalema Challenge? Isn’t that what made the song popular throughout the world? Isn’t that what gave the song worldwide publicity at zero cost to K.G.? Wasn’t that global trend created by the song a result of his invitation to ask people to join the challenge? So what is this nonsense about companies getting international campaign advertising at zero cost? Don’t you think, like I do, that the young man is becoming big-headed? He was very fortunate to reach the dizzy heights where people with even better talent are failing to get. He should not ask for more money than he has had.
In my opinion, it is the team surrounding him who all want to be millionaires riding on K.G.’s coat-tails.
In an interview with Capricorn FM, a South African radio station, Master K.G.’s lawyer, Dumisani Motsamai explained the reasons why Warner Music SA chose to demand money from big companies who have used the global hit song for their “own capital gains”.
“We are in a partnership with Warner Music internationally and I think in a nutshell, the partnership ensures that Master K.G. finds an easy way into the market.
“When a song is used as a sync for an advert, those people who created it are paid something we call royalties. So, the calls for the licence fees in respect to the challenge is limited to those that clearly skipped the mark, and when you look at it you can see that this was more than a challenge — this was people who were pushing their brand full stop.”
Motsamai explained that determining whether a company used it for their own benefit or for the worldwide challenge was a bit challenging, but in some cases it was quite clear that they were adverts.
“Although some companies were answering Cyril Ramaphosa, the president’s call to join the challenge and form unity, on YouTube you can see that there are other companies which skipped the red robot and used it for their capital gain.
“If the challenge is taken and someone is dancing with their family, individually, and has nothing to do with brand endorsement, has nothing to do with using the song to push a particular brand and put the brand in the face of people with the song in the background, then that’s fine,” he clarified.
In my view, this is what they should have highlighted before asking people to join the Jerusalema Challenge.
Motsamai further explained how they would go about getting the companies to pay. He said they would ask for money “politely”. If they refuse that would be forcing their hand. They are doing this not because they are greedy for money or are looking to get more money, however, they want to ensure that people who ensured the song gets the recognition it deserves, get what’s due to them.
Again, in my opinion, this is the condition they should have made clear before asking anyone to take up the Jerusalema Challenge so that people would make an informed decision.
In Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association (Zimura) charges anyone who uses music publicly, but they follow the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act. This is the exclusive right given by law for a certain period of time to a music composer, author or artiste to control the use of their works in order to protect them against unauthorised use as well as to give them a share of their earnings from its use. No one is allowed to reproduce the work in any material form without the permission of the originator of those works. K.G. gave the world permission to use his works.
In the case of K.G. who invited people to join his Jerusalema Challenge, nobody thought that they were breaking the law by taking part in the challenge. The whole world did. They found something to do during the Covid-19 pandemic. The response was overwhelming. Even K.G. himself and his team were stunned by such a response. It was mind-blowing. They did not expect such huge sums of money. The cheques began to come in like nobody’s business. Now despite showing off his hefty bank balance, K.G. wants more and more of these cheques to keep coming in by suggesting that those who took part in his Jerusalema Challenge broke the copyright law. This comes in as an after-thought. That is ridiculous!
It was not just a challenge where people took part for the sake of it, but it came at the perfect time where people were still coming to terms with battling a pandemic and losing loved ones. I can understand why K.G.’s team wants to make as much money as possible from this windfall brought about by the Jerusalema song. In their thinking, the next song from K.G. might fail to capture the same magic waves and impact which Jerusalema has. So this may be their only opportunity.
However, if this incessant greed continues, the likelihood of Master K.G. losing some of his fans is very high.
K.G., be warned!
There is also a Jerusalema remix and he collaborated with Burna Boy. The remix has been topping the charts in South Africa and across the world and in Mzansi it recently reached 150 000 000 streams and was certified gold.
Now with all of this success, why would one allow big companies to monetise off their hard work? His recording company Warner International sent out invoices to companies in Germany who used the song for their gains.