The Southern African Music Rights Organisation’s (SAMRO) executive management team has begun putting measures in place to ensure it operates on principles of prudent financial management to the benefit of its primary stakeholders.

“We are well aware of public perceptions about SAMRO due to events in recent years. While awaiting finality on ongoing investigations, we, as a collective, have decided to take the bold step to future proof the organisation,” says interim CEO Ditebogo Modiba.

The biggest issue facing SAMRO is the non-payment of licence fees by the organisations that broadcast music, which directly hurts the musicians waiting for their royalty fees. SAMRO’s members are made up of authors, composers and musical publishers, whose music can be played by broadcasters, retailers, live music venues, promoters and shopping centres and other organisations in return for licence fees that are distributed to members as royalties.

Companies that fail to pay their licence fees are putting the organisation’s roughly 20 000 members at financial risk, and also threaten the sustainability of the organisation as a whole.

Some of the licensees that SAMRO has been working with are experiencing financial constraints which are impacting negatively on the payment of royalties to its members. “Our licensing team continues to seek new commercially viable licensees in the Southern African region, and prospects are promising,” says Modiba.

In the meantime, every area of SAMRO’s business is being assessed to maximise its operational efficiency and identify cost-saving measures, especially in view of the current declining economic climate and potential impact on members and staff. “We have begun to tighten the belt from within,” Modiba says. “Unfortunately this affects the organisation’s ability to employ more personnel, but we cannot continue increasing staff at the expense of our members. This is why we have put a freeze on our head count and reduced the use of temporary staff.”

SAMRO’s Board of Directors is also assessing various technology options to help modernise its operations and make them more efficient.

“Unfortunately, the measures we have taken as an Executive Management team, are unpopular and will not please everybody. However, our core reason for existing is for the benefit of our members, and as such we will always prioritise their needs. When our members are rightfully taken care of, then so are we. It is in the interest of all at SAMRO to carve out a respectable space for South African musical talent both locally and abroad. As custodians of these talented people’s intellectual property, we intend to deliver on our promise,” she says.

“Overall, we remain committed to serving our members as best as we can. We understand the times we are operating in are not just challenging to SAMRO, but to every organisation nationally. To this end, we will continue to find ways to adapt to the economic climate in order to remain an efficient and commercially viable entity,” concludes Modiba.