Washington demands royalties from Museveni’s song, shows concern for Weasel

Renowned music producer, David Washington Ebangit, got netizens talking when he released a list of some of his most successful songs, saying he wants royalties for his input.

President Yoweri Museveni, Weasel, Producer Washington

Also known as Magic Washington, the producer listed 20 songs that he has done with several household names and there is a surprise on the list - President Yoweri Museveni.

Museveni, who has composed songs from traditional tales, worked with Washington on Kwezi Kwezi.

The other songs Washington listed include Adam Ne Kaawa (Bobi Wine), Eddiba (Juliana Kanyomozi), Gold Digger (Jackie Chandiru), Lonely (Bebe Cool) and Don't Cry (Wizkid ft GoodLyfe) and Love Letter (Lilian Mbabazi)

In his Facebook post, the legendary producer didn't specify who specifically is to pay the royalties, so this reporter called him to clarify the matter.

"For many years I have produced music that has changed a lot of people's [lives]. I have reached a point [whereby] I want all my [royalties] for all my works. Many people have been harvesting from my hard work but I know God will punish everyone for feeding [off] of my Royalty's [sic]," reads the Facebook post.

"I HAVE GIVEN THEM 24 HOURS TO START PAYING MY ROYALTY'S [sic] OTHERWISE ALL THEIR CHANNELS SHALL BE REMOVED FROM ALL DIGITAL PLATFORMS."

According to Washington, his problem is not with musicians but with digital platforms that are illegally distributing music without paying the people that make it.

"The whole system is messed up. Even the money they give the musicians is very little. Why do you think that our musicians are poor?" he said over the phone. "They don't get royalties at all. If they get them, they are always meager."

Washington, who has been producing music for over 25 years, believes it's time to take what belongs to him. His list was dominated by songs he did with Goodlyfe and he showed deep concern for Weasel’s financial challenges.

"Weasel is there struggling and he is not getting any royalties... I want my royalties. These songs are there on the platforms and people are collecting them. I have the biggest hit songs in this country. No one beats me... You can't tell me up to now the system has failed to work," he said.

"Why should I continue producing music yet I'm not getting my benefits from what I did?"

He said keeping quiet has led distributing platforms to think producers are "stupid."

Asked if they (producers, who have an umbrella body called Audio Producers of Uganda [APoA]) had tried to talk to the platforms, he said: "Now we are talking [referring to his Facebook post]... They have seen. They had better wake up, we have given them 24 hours. If they don't, for us we are taking the legal way."

He declined to comment on how much royalties he's entitled to from each song. "That's none of your business, bro," he said.

"People are busy abusing Weasel. Yet the very people stealing our work are the ones abusing him. I'm not going to lose Weasel. I lost Mowzey Radio because of such people. Not again."

The producer's association is led by producer Renix. Washington says he is the godfather. Asked if they had talked to the government, Washington noted they have been frustrated by fruitless promises, but he believes shutting down websites that infringe on copyright could help.

He said that compared to other African countries like Nigeria, Rwanda, and Tanzania, Ugandan producers are not benefitting from their work.

Washington says he is not personally struggling.

"Me I'm okay... But other producers get discouraged. You look at them they have hit songs, but they are not doing well financially, So, if I don't talk, I'll be blamed," he said.

Washington, who said musicians "are useless" without producers, called for respect and recognition of producers.

He also wondered why the government can't apportion some funds to support them. He said they are among people that met Salim Saleh, Museveni’s brother in Gulu but nothing materialised.

He said for them to compete with top producers on the continent like Don Jazzy they need sound systems of $50,000 - 100,000, which they could acquire with government support or systems that facilitate earning from music.

According to music producer and Swangz Avenue co-founder Benon Mugumbya, a producer is entitled to royalties depending on the deal they struck initially. He also noted that some producers settle for gentleman’s agreements and regret it later.

"It depends on the initial discussion that you do. Usually, in the studio, there is what we call a split sheet... It's like how you work out the shares on [any deal] so that you can recoup on publishing or any other opportunity that might arise from that song,” he said over the phone.

"That conversation helps if it was initially had. Otherwise, you know, if nothing was put on paper... we like to work on just assumptions.”

He said with the distribution platforms, Swangz Avenue tells them to remove the music, but it's hard to completely eliminate illegal distribution.

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