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Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Investments, salaries & other ways Sauti Sol are staying millionaires despite hiatus

Sauti Sol created not only a legacy of music, but also a blueprint for financial and business acumen in the creative industry.

The enchanting rhythms of Sauti Sol, Kenya’s illustrious boy band, have paused, echoing the adage, ‘Every song has its coda.’

After two decades of captivating hearts and airwaves, the band announced an indefinite hiatus following a grand world tour through the U.S., Europe, and Canada, culminating with Sol Fest in Nairobi in 2023.

This decision came after the members – Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano, Polycarp Otieno, and Savara Mudigi – sought to explore their own paths and individual growth.

But how does a band like Sauti Sol continue to thrive financially during a hiatus? The secret lies in diversification and sound financial management – a strategy not just beneficial for artists but a lesson for us all.

In the music industry, royalties from past hits, streaming revenues, and merchandise sales form a steady income stream.

For Sauti Sol, their rich discography, including crowd-pleasers like ‘Lil Mama,’ ensures a continued financial inflow.

According to Spotify, the band has about 427,847 monthly listeners. The members also have solo platforms.

The group was among the most-played musicians on the app in 2023.

Publishing and licensing are other ways the band can still make money.

Music licensing in the music industry refers to the process where rights to use a piece of music are granted by the rights holder (usually the songwriter or their publisher) to another party.

This can include usage in films, TV shows, advertisements, or even other musical works. Music publishing, on the other hand, involves the management of the copyrights of a song.

Publishers work to ensure that songwriters and composers receive appropriate remuneration whenever their compositions are used commercially.

They handle tasks like collecting royalties, marketing the songs, and negotiating deals for licensing the music. With this in mind, Sauti Sol also has a publishing division, meaning they can invest in other musicians.

Like employees of Sauti Sol, the boys also get a salary for the good work they did creating soundtracks to our lives.

Bien revealed in past interviews the business-minded approach of Sauti Sol, where each member draws a salary and the rest of the money is saved or invested, instead of splitting earnings.

Any money we got we made Sauti Sol the fight member. Anytime we would distribute cash, for example Sh100,000, there is Sh20,000 for each of us and Sauti Sol gets Sh20,000.

“We made more than we were distributing because at some point we stopped distributing cash and it became a salary. Right now I am an employee of Sauti Sol Entertainment and I get a salary at the end of the month,” Bien said.

This means even on a ‘dry month’, the team is assured of income.

This model not only ensures financial stability for each artist but also promotes a sustainable group dynamic.

The Sauti Sol band may be on a hiatus, but the boys’ individual careers are not taking a break any time soon.

They have all had the chance to headline their shows, and so far, the music is not fading off.

We also cannot rule out any chance of the members performing together in the near future. This is because often, musicians will accompany each other to gigs and whether planned or not, find themselves performing alongside each other.

You read that right; just because Sauti Sol is on a hiatus doesn’t mean Sol Fest is over. The group already announced the 2024 edition of the festival.

Fans will have to wait and see who is picked to headline the show later this year.

In the last edition, the festival cost Sh80 million to put up, but being the most attended show in the region, I’m sure the boys laughed all the way to the bank.

As a record label under Sauti Sol Group, they are beneficiaries of the money the artists under their fold earn.

Besides creators being able to sell their merchandise, products, or music, the app is also among the top event ticketing platforms in Kenya.

In 2023, the app received Sh12 million to equip young creators across the country with the necessary tools, resources, networks, and knowledge to monetize their passions.

Behind their success, a robust team contributes to Sauti Sol’s brand and business ventures.

Moriasi Omambia is the general counsel and head of business affairs at Sauti Sol Group. He has been pivotal in steering the group’s business affairs.

Omambia, primarily working behind the scenes, has been instrumental in standardizing industry rates and adding value to the art.

This includes negotiating fair compensation for their performances and ensuring that they receive appropriate remuneration for their work.

Crispin Obala heads the music and publishing business mentioned above, while William Nanjero leads Sol Generation, and Zaida DSuleiman and Kavutha Asio are in charge of the Sol Fest franchise.

As fans bid a temporary farewell to the harmonies of Sauti Sol, they leave behind not just a legacy of music but also a blueprint for financial and business acumen in the creative industry.

Michael Maren
Michael Maren
Former marine biologist who likes to spend as much time in the tropics as possible, due to a horrible time I once had in Alaska. Brrrr.

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