Beat Bulletin April 2012


Listen… do you hear it? It’s the rhythm of our pulsating musical heartbeat; the lifeblood of our industry. In this edition of our electronic newsletter, we’ll be exploring that beat from a performance point of view.

So, we’ll be looking at Performing Rights – a much-misunderstood type of rights that SAMRO administers on behalf of its members. We’ll also examine how the public performance of music in, for example, a restaurant can earn you royalties. And we chat to Paul Hanmer, one of South Africa’s most talented and prolific composers and musicians.

Yours in music,

Kgomotso Mosenogi
Marketing and Communications Manager: SAMRO


An article published in various South African newspapers and online platforms on 6 and 7 March 2012 contains incorrect information and creates the false impression that SAMRO is the subject of a criminal investigation.

The report, which relates to the SABC’s implementation of the Auditor-General’s recommendations to improve corporate governance at the public broadcaster, leads the reader to believe that SAMRO is under investigation.

This allegation is incorrect, confusing and misleading. The investigation referred to is a criminal case opened by SAMRO into the conduct of an external supplier contracted to the SABC.

In 2009, when SAMRO calculated the broadcast distribution of royalties due to music rights holders, an anomaly was detected in the cue sheets submitted by the SABC 1 music programme Music Lounge. After SAMRO and the SABC investigated the matter, compelling evidence was uncovered that there had been fraudulent activity in the returns for that particular programme.

SAMRO subsequently opened a criminal case against the production company at the Brixton Police Station, and the matter is also being probed by the Special Investigating Unit.

SAMRO would like to assure members that it will continue to investigate and root out unethical and illegal practices that threaten to compromise the integrity of their intellectual property.


When you sign up with SAMRO to administer your Performing Rights, what exactly does it mean? This is the main service offered by SAMRO to its members, yet many still get confused about the term. Fret no longer – here is a brief breakdown of what Performing Rights is all about.


South African copyright law outlines Performing Rights as three distinct rights in a musical work: the right to perform a work in public, the right to broadcast a work and the right to transmit a work through a diffusion service.

So, whenever an original song is broadcast, played or performed in public, the rights holders in that work should earn royalty income. The owners of the Performing Rights in a musical work are the composers, lyricists and music publishers.

A very important point: if someone sings or plays a musical instrument on a song, but hasn’t written any part of that song, they will NOT earn Performing Rights royalties from it. Singers/instrumentalists who are not composers may well earn a performance fee when they perform live at a venue or festival, as well as revenue from CD sales or downloads via their record company, but they will not earn Performing Rights royalties from SAMRO.

Here’s how it works: you, as a songwriter, assign the Performing Rights in a particular song to SAMRO to administer. You have to stipulate who wrote the music and the words, and who published the work. You’ll also need to outline each rights holder’s percentage share in each musical work. For example, if you’re in a band and a song was a collaborative effort, you need to indicate how the royalties should be split.

SAMRO then licenses businesses, individuals and broadcasters to use any of the millions of works in its global repertoire. From radio, television and internet stations to restaurants, nightclubs, music festivals, shopping malls, car washes and spaza shops that play music in public – they all have to pay licence fees to SAMRO based on a sliding scale of tariffs. They also have to keep track of the music they play and submit detailed usage returns to SAMRO.

Based on the playlists and usage returns received from its licensees, SAMRO will then calculate the royalties owing to the composers, lyricists and publishers of a particular musical work, and will deposit the money into your account during its annual royalty distribution cycles.

So, that’s Performing Rights in a nutshell! SAMRO also administers Mechanical Rights and, through its subsidiary, the Performers’ Organisation of SA (POSA) Trust, Needletime Rights, which we’ll touch on in future editions of THE BEAT BULLETIN.


Accomplished musician Paul Hanmer, who has been a SAMRO member since 1988, believes strongly that the value of individual creativity should be safeguarded in a world dominated by “the digital commons”


Pianist and composer Hanmer, is best known for South African Music Award-winning jazz albums such as Trains to Taung and his collaborations with the likes of McCoy Mrubata and Tananas, but is also a dab hand at classical music, having been chosen as composer-in-residence for the 2012 Johannesburg International Mozart Festival.

He has assigned his Performing and Needletime Rights to SAMRO, which is also the copyright repository of his music, and has also been commissioned by SAMRO to write music for occasions such as its Overseas Scholarships Competition.

He says that “the income from SAMRO over the years has certainly made a big and long-lasting difference [to my career]. It has also helped me in terms of widening the ‘sea of possibility’ for me as a freelance musician: moving from being ‘just’ a player of keyboards in cover bands to becoming known also as an arranger, songwriter, collaborator, session keyboardist, composer, producer and so on.”

As a SAMRO member, his earnings as a composer whose works are performed live and via broadcast, as well as the occasional licensing deal, have all contributed to helping him earn a livelihood out of a broad range of possible sources.

Hanmer has a colourful analogy for the music licensing process: “It is important for people to recognise that they have to pay for the right to do something. As not many people would assume they could get petrol for their vehicles for free, or expect to watch a movie at the movie-house without purchasing a ticket – so they should not expect to get, or use, or listen to music for free.”

However, what concerns him about the current music landscape is that “the traditional ways of earning royalty-based income – from various sources, and not just from Performing Rights societies such as SAMRO – are no longer as guaranteed as they might once have been. But also, the need to express what is absolutely individual about each of us has been overrun and clouded, I believe, by the conforming nature of a world that values the computer-generated font above the handwriting of the individual. This creates a common view that we should all be digital clones and drones.”

Food for thought, indeed!

In any restaurant, music sets the tone and helps create an environment conducive to customers’ needs. It’s for that very reason that SWAD restaurant in Johannesburg acknowledges the importance of having a SAMRO music licence.


SWAD, which opened its doors in July 2010, was designed as a destination that brings to South Africa the unique flavours, tastes and experiences of India. Voted as the best Indian cuisine restaurant in The Star Readers’ Choice Awards 2011, it has achieved this pinnacle by offering diners service excellence, a regal atmosphere and a wonderful culinary journey. This experience, though, would not be complete without creating the right ambience.

This, explains SWAD Events and Promotions Manager Suchitra Nagarajan, is achieved by “play[ing] the requisite background music, as it helps set the tone for the restaurant”.

Adds Sunil Menon, SWAD Co-owner: “One minute you could be having a productive business lunch; change the music and the room turns into a romantic candlelit dinner for two. Yet another change of music and it’s a celebratory party with friends and family. The choice of music changes the dimension of the room without having to make any physical changes. The SWAD experience would be incomplete without music!”

Furthermore, says Nagarajan, “As a responsible business entity, SWAD feels that by paying licence fees, somehow, in a small way, we are keeping the arts alive and indirectly encouraging artists to create more music.”

Menon believes that the role of SWAD and similar businesses is to use their establishments as an avenue to promote new composers and artists, while simultaneously keeping the classics alive. “Most establishments understand the role they play, individually, in the process but may not necessarily understand the bigger picture,” he says. “More information exchange between SAMRO and end-users might be helpful in this regard.”

SAMRO hopes that music – combined with fresh ingredients like coconut, tamarind, wholesome ground masalas, basmati rice, coriander, ginger, garlic and chilli to tempt your palate – will enable SWAD to continue serving up a rich feast for all the senses.


South African music’s biggest night, the MTN South African Music Awards, is taking place at Sun City on 29 and 30 April 2012 – and SAMRO would like to send a warm shout-out to all of our members who picked up nominations.


Simply being among the illustrious nominees in any of the 29 categories is an achievement, and regardless of who takes home the trophies on the night, you are all winners in our eyes!

Catch the awards live from 8.30pm on SABC1 on Monday, 30 April 2012 – we’ll be watching and rooting for you all! For a full list of nominees for the 18th Annual MTN SAMAs, visit or click here for a link to the SAMRO website.


SAMRO members, applicants, licensees and members of the public are finding it easier to interact with the organisation since the launch of SAMRO 24/7, a recent Facebook survey has found

SAMRO 24/7 is SAMRO’s recently introduced 24-hour communication hub, offering assistance via telephone, email, SMS, fax and social media. It helps us attend to queries and provide feedback in a jiffy, in a bid to enhance the SAMRO user experience.

Most of those who responded to the online survey were SAMRO members or had applied for membership, and more than half of the respondents had already made use of the SAMRO 24/7 service.

Overall, more than 70% of the people surveyed rated the service they had received from the SAMRO 24/7 communication hub extremely positively. The majority of those questioned in the sample had interacted with SAMRO via Facebook, email and telephone.

When they were asked how we can improve the SAMRO 24/7 service, among the suggestions was providing online access to application forms and statements, which SAMRO is in the process of rolling out. Some also requested a physical SAMRO presence in their respective provinces. Several were very complimentary about the service and feedback they had received, while others thought the SAMRO helpdesk consultants could be more efficient and knowledgeable when handling their queries.

Scroll down to the bottom for all the SAMRO 24/7 contact details, and don’t forget to send SAMRO your feedback ( if you have any brickbats or bouquets for our customer service!

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