Malaysian musicians are due to receive close to RM30million in an overdue royalty payout with a deadline of December.
This comes after the dissolution of Music Rights Malaysia Berhad (MRM) following alleged irregularities. The non-profit consortium, established in 2017, was a joint venture between four major licensing CMOs (collective management organizations) aimed to streamline music licensing processes.
Its sudden closure meant that almost RM20million in royalties overseen by MRM were left unpaid to musicians. However, government officials have announced that this amount will be fairly distributed “no later than December”, as reported by Free Malaysia Today on October 10.
This will include an additional RM9 million in cash and receivables from Recording Performers Malaysia Berhad (RPM), which functioned as one of the primary bodies behind MRM.
The matter was resolved by RPM, the Malaysian government’s Insolvency Department (MDI), and PRISM Performers Verification and Claims Committee (PPVCC) after an official meeting on October 5.
Freddie Fernandez, head of the non-profit Malaysian Artistes’ Association (also known as Karyawan), responded to news of the payout with skepticism.
“We believe the year-end deadline to be unrealistic as the government is probably unaware of the huge task at hand in trying to identify 2,000 members of both organisations and determining the quantum of royalties to be paid to each one,” he wrote in an op-ed for Free Malaysia Today on October 11.
The former musician and entrepreneur lamented the closure of MRM, which he said upheld “a structured and organised royalty collection mechanism.” Fernandez had previously urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the possibility of corruption in the organisations involved, expressing his dismay that “hidden hands” might have manipulated royalty distribution for personal gain.
The distribution of musician royalties in Malaysia has long been an ongoing issue within the industry, as allegations of improper payments to artists stretch back to 2001.