For years, majority of Kenyan artistes have remained poor. Some work hard, earn the money, but blow it up in vanities. And as WAMBUI VIRGINIA and MANUEL NTOYAI write, it isn\u2019t because of bad luck, but lack of knowledge on financial management During the burial of gospel singer Papa Dennis last week, many of his fans wondered why a man who once lived such a flamboyant life, could exit the world penniless. And while they pondered questions that bordered the same area of thoughts, singer-cum-politician Charles Njagua Kanyi, aka Jaguar, turned to fellow artistes to remind them about making sound financial decisions. The issue of financial literacy amongst Kenyan creatives has been popping up every now and then, especially when one of them passes on without leaving behind any tangible wealth. Two decades ago, the reality of the music world in Kenya was that you couldn\u2019t make money from music sales alone. That\u2019s why many artistes, after diving into the industry, would still remain stagnated and mostly end up throwing in the towel, having hopelessly resigned to fate. An artiste is usually at a disadvantage any time they are not financially aware of their scope of business. The harsh reality is that being an artiste does not exempt you from the economic realities and vagaries of life. Not just in Kenya, the business of making music is hard and for one to be successful while at it is even harder. Why, you would ask? Even when an artiste makes good music, people still want to consume it for free! In the golden days In the early 2000s, one of the pioneering record labels Ogopa Deejays\u2014with their booming \u2018kapuka\u2019 style of music\u2014introduced into the industry some of the biggest names who turned the once dull industry into a vibrant multi-billion-shilling industry. Khaligraph Jones. \u201cMost of us did it for passion and our love for music was on another level. It\u2019s because we wanted to entertain and express ourselves through music. When I got into music, I was a young man, hustling just like everyone else,\u201d intimates artiste Lenson Njuki aka Mr Lenny. Musicians, especially if self-employed, face very particular financial struggles.\u00a0 Some relate to the unpredictable nature of the job with a fluctuating flow year-in and year-out, and some relate it to being self-employed. Success in the music industry today demands that you diversify; meaning you have to spread your tentacles into different things. This means channeling and managing your songs in the right places. Mr Lenny adds that during his peak time in the industry, music took years before it could get any returns. It was a hard industry to navigate and it still is. \u201cJust like any other person in any other industry, artistes also have needs. But it becomes a big deal once you are on the limelight because you are supposed to maintain a certain standard of living. When I was active in the industry, we didn\u2019t have any financial guidance. Most of the then young artistes were often misguided and ended up squandering their money. In just a couple of years, you would find the same person wallowing in poverty and substance abuse. \u201cDuring our time, we loved to entertain and we relied on live performances, tours and concerts and the pay was not that much. Over the years as an artiste, I was able to make investments in land, shares and venturing into other businesses. I am now reaping the benefits,\u201d says Lenny. All the while, Lenny didn\u2019t have a financial advisor. He attributes this to his personal focus and discipline and heeding to counsel from his family and close friends. He recommends that artistes take their talent as a small business, where it has to generate income and help them grow in other areas of entrepreneurship. Lenny, who also mentors young talent, says Kenyan music has drastically changed over the years, coming with it multiple avenues to generate money. He says it is important to be financially savvy because music can only bring two results; failure or success. Punching above their weight \u201cOne of the biggest concerns as an artiste is debt and spending too much money.\u00a0 Nowadays as an artiste, you can\u2019t rely solely on one source of income. You would need to juggle multiple roles. \u2018Kenya to the world\u2019 is a slogan we hear all the time whenever a hit song is released. However, it is quite unfortunate that some artistes would get a minimum of Sh2,500 as royalties for their annual work. That\u2019s the plight of many artistes in Kenya today,\u201d rapper Khaligraph Jones tells Spice. Financial management and being savvy with one\u2019s finances is important to any artiste. Already having a publicist to handle music business such as public relations, marketing and promoting your brand is expensive as it is. The only way to get the most out of the money that a musician may have is to adequately plan for it and have systems and processes put in place as explained by financial advisor Edgar Muthungu. \u201cArtistes tend to focus on gigs as their only way to derive income from their art. In fact, there are other different ways to rake in money. Artistes should think of themselves as brands and in that way they can expand their revenue streams,\u201d says Edgar. He adds: \u201cIt\u2019s also important to have some basic financial literacy. Your music is your small business and just like any other business, the main aim is stability and growth. The same concept applies. Basic financial literacy starts with saving, having a budget and avoiding debt. It is important for artistes to make sound decisions in order to sustain a stable career.\u201d Power couple Nameless and Wahu has in the past disclosed to have hired a financial manager to help them align their investments as well as finances. They explained in a past interview that the decision was to enhance their financial maturity. Utilising available platforms Artistes under the various Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) occasionally get trainings through workshops, where they are taken through different matters including Intellectual Property rights and financial literacy. \u201cFinancial literacy is important because it equips one with the knowledge and skills needed to manage money effectively. Without it, the financial decisions and the actions taken may led to lack of solid foundation for success. Music is business that one cannot predict. The songs do well in different seasons and in your high season if you don\u2019t invest you may end up complaining and lamenting,\u201d says Performers Rights Society of Kenya (Prisk) chair Ephantus Wahome. And while the wars between producers and content creators intensify the moment one side of the divide smells money, for artistes, one document that always helps settle such matters is a split sheet. \u201cA split sheet agreement identifies each contributor and establishes specific ownership percentages amongst them. These percentages are important because they determine how much each contributor will be paid when income is generated by their music. In general, every song published can be broken down into a writer\u2019s share (lyrics), a producer\u2019s share (music) and a performer\u2019s share,\u201d says the Kenya Association of Music Producers (Kamp) vice chair Angela Ndambuki. According to her, while the shares can be broken down even further, in case there are additional contributors, the same creator can contribute to all the shares. The final percentages are negotiated and must be agreed upon by all parties involved. But how many artistes have this knowledge remains the pertinent question.