Beat Bulletin August 2015

Dear SAMRO Member,

Welcome to another edition of the Beat Bulletin. South Africa is rich with females who are in the music business and as part of celebrating Women’s month, we saw fit to play our part by featuring some of the young females in the industry doing great work.

In this edition, we chat to Relebogile Mabotja – a multi-talented inspiring woman who runs her own publishing house and record label.  From conquering the small screen to composing music for TV Mabotja is really a force to be reckoned with.

Fifi Cooper is also fast becoming the first lady of hip hop to those in the know. The rapper shares with us her musical story, lessons learned on her way to where she is and also the importance of being a SAMRO member.

We also take a look at the Vuzu TV hip-hop show, The Hustle which aims to put a spotlight on the talented undiscovered rappers from all over the country. The show is a great initiative that is exposing unknown talents to the mainstream industry and most importantly, awarding the winner with life changing prizes.

Getting a publishing deal can help a music composer get their music to places one might have never thought of. While signing such a deal can be one of the greatest moments in an artist’s career, it is important to understand the type of publishing deal you are being offered and what it entails.

Lastly, don’t forget to check the September gig guide and what we have for you from Concerts SA.

Please continue to interact with us on and let us know if you would like to be featured in Beat Bulletin. We look forward to your suggestions and feedback.

Remember to dream big and keep creating.

Yours in music,

Tiyani Maluleke

GM: Marketing


The moment you sit down to create with another songwriter or a producer – whether writing music or lyrics – you will be facing a very common problem – who gets what?

We caught up with publishing expert Jonathan Shaw to gain some insight into this space.  In the music industry, a music publisher (or publishing company) is responsible for making sure that songwriters and composers get paid when their compositions are used commercially.

Through an agreement called a publishing contract, a songwriter or composer “assigns” the copyright of their composition to a publishing company. In return, the company licenses the compositions, helps monitor where compositions are used, collects royalties and distributes them to the composers. They also secure commissions for music and promote existing compositions to recording artists, film and television.

As a rule of thumb and to avoid any dispute between creators regarding copyright or ownership, most artists would advise that all the individuals involved in the creation of the song, agree  and sign – even a piece of paper – that specifies the part each person played in the creation of the song. More often than not, all parties involved in the creation of the song will agree to require each other’s consent before the music can be used. Down the line, both songwriters may end up assigning their rights to a publisher and it then becomes a co-publishing deal. Unlike co-songwriters, co-publishers have a better understanding of business deals.

Outside of this collaboration or joint author agreement, you may look at signing the common single song music publishing deal. The first thing they will make you sign for, is the warranty that you actually own the music. Here, the publisher will want to assign all your rights in the music to them (and I mean ALL your rights, they will list these in great detail) and this is why it’s often called a deed of assignment.

In return, the writer would get a percentage of any income accrued. This percentage is debatable and depends on each party’s bargaining power. A seasoned songwriter might be able to negotiate a better rate than someone who is new to the publishing space. This could lead to an exclusive writer’s deal where you continue to assign songs on a yearly basis in return for a higher royalty. A key deal point is often where the rights apply, as in the territory or countries the rights are assigned.

Many writers complain about being signed only to feel nothing is being done with the song, yet the expectation of getting someone to sign you is not necessarily going to make the publisher suddenly find work for the song. If you can improve those prospects yourself, you stand a better chance of negotiating a better deal and having the work get somewhere. It begs the question – if you have to “work the song” yourself, what is a publisher for? Often a publisher has better contacts, negotiating skills and administration than you could ever have on your own. A good song requires concentrated marketing which the publisher won’t waste the time and risk of losing money on. In any event, you may both agree that any major prospects be disclosed to each party as they happen, where the publisher will handle all the grunt work to put licences in place and collect money.

General points on income include around 50% of net proceeds from sheet music (or 10% of the retail selling price) and in absence of a better deal, 50% of everything else. Any of this income can be reduced, say by half, when the publisher exploits the work in other territories – because it’s often that much harder in other countries and they work with sub-publishers who know the local lingo but are also taking a cut of the income. Notably, the publisher may mention SAMRO’s rules for income from Performing Rights which gives the writer 66.3% of income. Otherwise they’ll stick to what’s stated in the agreement. Often this is calculated twice a year in June and December and paid out a few month after that each year.

Things that are often not mentioned in “standard” agreements are things like reduced period of copyright ownership or the right of return. This would mean limiting the amount of time the publisher owns the copyright before you essentially get out of the deal. Most publishers will agree it’s about the amount of time and effort put into popularising the work, allowing them to keep the rights for the life of the copyright,

But you would be quite justified saying that if nothing happens with the work in a few years you get your rights back. Same might be applicable should the publisher breach the contract. You may also wish to include a right of audit where if the royalties the publisher has on your statement is not the same, within a certain percentage, they pay for the cost of the audit. And just remember that when someone says it’s our standard agreement, it means it’s standard to them but you can negotiate and ask for things not in the piece of paper before you yet.

The importance of getting legal advice before you sign any publishing deal cannot be emphasised enough. At the end of the day, all I would hope for is a fair deal for everyone involved and hopefully some celebratory moments when that first big deal comes in. And of course when you get that pay-out you always wanted from someone using your music.

Jonathan G Shaw is a music business consultant, lecturer at Wits University and author of the textbook -The South African Music Business. His other personality is a successful recording studio owner, recording engineer and producer. Visit and


Relebogile is a mogul in the making, having conquered the small screen, the talented singer- songwriter is now well on her way to conquering the music biz.

Mabotja is one of the few females in South Africa to own a record label and publishing company. To add to her illustrious portfolio Mabotja has also taken on the role of musical director for TV shows such as Sing It Loud, Afro Café, Koze Kuse and Mzansi Insider. She has also scored theme songs for Laduma, Sports@10, Soccer Zone and SABC 2 title song, You Belong.

From a tender age, Mabotja always loved singing and at seventeen she got her first break in the theatre production, Fame – The Musical in which she was cast as one of the principal characters. Fast forward to 2015, Mabotja has become a household name on television and she’s slowly navigating the complex sphere of the business side of music, namely owning a record label and a music publishing company.

“Running a publishing company and record label is so much work, with a lot of paper work to be done. I learned a long time ago the importance working hard to achieve my goals.  The more successful you become, the harder you need to work to stay on top of your game. You also need to surround yourself with people that are really good at what they do, which I think is something that really helped me get to where I am today.”

By working hard and surrounding herself with right people in the music industry, Mabotja has managed to put out some great records and build a reputable brand for herself. “I prefer to work with the best in the business and gaining some much need insight into the space. I wouldn’t have been able to deliver quality projects without a quality team.”

When it comes to the art of songwriting and music composition, she says that music for her comes naturally. “I am very fortunate that the gift comes out naturally, I just hear the music and work on that. But there are times when one is under strict deadlines and everything is just about trial and error. I wish I could say here’s the formula, it worked for me, run with it but it’s not like that.”

Being one of the few females playing in a male dominated music industry presents some challenges for Mabotja, but this has not stopped her from reaching for her dreams.  “I’m the kind of person who does what I’m passionate about, working on projects that seem impossible to pull off, makes me ‘stubbornly persistent’. It’s important for me to own my works and also build a legacy for myself. I want to inspire other women to get up, and do it on their own.”

When it comes to intellectual property rights and contractual issues, Mabotja says she is extremely hands on in this regard. She points out that sometimes an artist can get too excited when offered a recording deal that they forget to ensure that everything related to the copyright and contractual issues is resolved before the recording starts. “If anything, one needs to have an agreement in writing to avoid any disputes when the song starts generating money. This ensures that everyone who was involved in the recording process knows what they will get.”

Mabotja feels that in this day and age there is no need for publishing houses and record labels to subject artists to contracts that are full of jargon and complicated language. From her point of view, artists should be presented with a clear and simple contract, written in simple English that covers the deliverables and expectations from both parties.

Touching on the success of her publishing company, the talented songwriter credits writing music for television for this feat. “I have come to realise that music for TV can bring in royalties when I least expect it. I know that if I compose music for a show, I will only be paid once for scoring but over and above that, there are royalties I will get whenever the show I composed the theme song for is aired and each time it is repeated.”

It is indeed great to see a young woman doing great things and pushing the boundaries to make things happen for herself.

Look out for the vidcast of our exclusive interview with Lebo coming soon.

Get in touch with Lebo via Twitter: @RelebogileM | Facebook: @Relebogile Mabotja | Instagram: Relebogile


Vuzu TV is doing its bit to help unearth new talent in the South African hip hop landscape with the birth of the new reality hip-hop show, The Hustle.

The new series aims to put the spotlight on some of the hottest undiscovered rappers from across the country. To assist in crowning the next hip hop star, The Hustle brought in a South African all-star team to serve as judges on the series namely AKA, Khuli Chana and Tumi Molekane.

“The game needs a show like this, the game needs the next rap star. The game needs someone to push the envelope, the game now needs that person who will be able to compete on the global stage. That’s why I’m here,” says Motswako rapper – Khuli Chana.

In a bid to discover the next great emcee, the all-star team of judges is focused on finding the complete package – the freshest, most memorable wordsmith with the drive, and determination to make it to the top.

“Our judges have achieved commercial success – and that’s incredibly impressive in the competitive music industry,” says Nkateko Mabaso, Director for Local Interest Channels at M-Net.

It is clear that this journey will not be an easy one for contestants as the ultimate hustler needs to have the IT factor that makes them stand out from the crowd. This person needs to have the right flow and lyrical skills. All in all, the show is looking for an all-rounder who looks at the rap game beyond words but as a business.

“The judges are no strangers to the challenges and successes of building a successful music career. They know just what it takes to get to the top and stay there, in the ever-changing and cut throat industry. They will be bringing that expertise and more to their role as judges,” says Mabaso.

At the end of it all, the winner will walk away with R250 000 in cash, courtesy of sponsor KFC, a record and management deal valued at R250 000 and a R100 000 music video for their winning song. They will also receive a 6-month public relations contract with African Star Communications and a career-boosting opportunity to perform alongside respected heavyweights at this year’s Maftown Heights to be held in Johannesburg this November.

Truly, that’s a nice career kick-start opportunity!


Fifi Copper is one of the hottest South African female emcees, dubbed the “First lady of Motswako”.

She has an impressive track record of working with some of the best hip hop artists in the industry including Molemi, Khuli Chana and Lection. Her collaboration with AB Crazy birthed the smash hit, Kisses which is currently dominating the charts.

We caught up with the talented emcee during her busy schedule, to chat about her music career and mountains she’s had to climb to get to where she is today.

Q. You have been hustling for quite a while, how has your journey been so far?

A.My journey has been nothing short of amazing. I started singing at the age of 8.  2007 is the year when I took the first step into the rap game. It’s been a little over 7 years and I am enjoying the path my career is taking.

Q.Do you think female emcees have reached a stage where they are given the same opportunities and platforms as their male counterparts?

A. I believe female rappers shouldn’t be given anything – they should take it and that’s what we are doing. We’re not looking for any special treatment because we are females in a male dominated genre. The word “female” should only be used to describe our gender, we knowingly took this path to challenge ourselves, this means that our craft has to be on par if not better than the best in our field.

Q. A little bird told us that you are also quite the vocalist, how have collaborations with some of the best in the biz contributed to your success thus far?

A. I consider myself as an artist, so rapping is just one of the many skills I tap into. I have worked with Mo Molemi on two albums, Towdee, Lection, Notshi, Khuli Chana and recently AB Crazy. I’ve always looked up to those guys and I now see the Motswako family as my brothers. I gained so much knowledge and experience from them.

Q. You’ve been in the rap game for a while now and it’s only recently that you’ve broken into the mainstream with the hit single, Kisses. What kept you going?

A. When chasing after a dream, you need to have the confidence, will power and determination to get to where you want to be. I am no stranger to hard work and I promised myself that I’d work hard until I got there. As my mother used to say “No weapon formed against me shall prosper” and this mantra kept me going even when times were tough. So with every obstacle, I always remembered that my talent is a blessing from God and that no one can take that away from me.

Q. So, what strategy did you use to penetrate the mainstream music market?

A.  Social media provided me with a platform to connect directly with my fans. Constant feedback from the fans allowed me to tailor-make songs that suit their listening needs.

Q,How did your collaboration with AB Crazy come about?

A. I am a hard core rapper, so my team and I thought collaborating with the soulful AB Crazy would soften my rugged rap style and make it more approachable.  Kisses is easy to listen to and makes people nostalgic – that “teenage love” kind of vibe. AB Crazy delivered as always.

Q. How do you plan to stay relevant in the ever changing rap game?

A. The plan is to stay true to what my fans love about me and my music, while still evolving as an artist and honing my craft. It’s for me to keep building the brand Fifi Copper because that will keep me at the top of the game.

Q. What makes Fifi Cooper different from other female emcees?

A. I am not a rapper, I am an artist and have so much to offer to the industry so I will be keeping everyone on their toes. To me, Motswako is a lifestyle that brings different music genres together. I have been blessed with multiple talents so I might wake up one morning and decide to give the world a taste of an RnB and jazz single, or possibly show case my dancing skills. What makes me stand out from the rest is my artistry and versatility.

Q. What are the most important lessons you learned in the mainstream industry that have continued to help you keep your head up?

A. Work hard, stay true to yourself and evolve.

Q. What are the future plans for Fifi Cooper?

A. I have so much in the pipelines going for me.  I’m really excited about a few singles and music videos that will be coming out soon, in support of my new album that will be released in the near future.

Q. So, are you a SAMRO member? If so, why did you decide to apply for membership?

A. Yes, I have applied and I hope to get elected into full membership at the next board meeting. SAMRO provides a platform for a music authors/creators to be compensated for their creative output.  I don’t have the capability to trace and collect the monies owed to me so SAMRO is indeed a lifesaver in this regard.

Q. On a final note, what advice can you give to those who look up to you and would want to follow in your footsteps? 

A. My advice would be, your dreams are valid, work hard and be consistent. Write down your goals and work tirelessly towards achieving the success you hope for.  Live your dream because IT IS POSSIBLE.

Anything else you would like to share before we wrap things up?

In the spirit of Women’s month I have released a new single, Good Girl Down that I dedicated to all the women of this country. Look out for it.

Twitter: @fificooperSan | Facebook: Ffi Cooper San | Instagram: ke_fificooper


It was truly a night to remember when two new singing stars were crowned at the SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition final held in Johannesburg on 29 August 2015.

The Linder Auditorium bursting at its seams with music lovers, 24-year-old Levy Sekgapane (Western Art music) and 21 year-old Zoe Modiga (jazz) were named the winners of this year’s competition for singers.

They have each won a R200 000 scholarship (South Africa’s most lucrative competitive music scholarship) to further their music studies, or enrol in specialist master classes abroad – plus the honour of having their names on the SAMRO Foundation’s roll of honour, joining 68 fellow scholarships alumni since 1962. Prize money for 2015 was raised from R170 000, and announced on the night.

It was a dazzling evening of music, elevated by knockout vocal performances by the four finalists, all in their 20s and all brimming with youthful talent and promise: Levy Sekgapane and Andiswa Makana (Western Art music) and Zoë Modiga and Amy Campbell (jazz).

Three of the four singers studied music at the University of Cape Town; one graduated from the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). The theme of this year’s scholarships competition was the National Development Plan (NDP) and its vision for a future South Africa.

As such, the SAMRO Foundation had commissioned four composers – Neo Muyanga, Marcus Wyatt, Christo Jankowitz and James Bassingthwaighte – to write new songs inspired by the preamble to the NDP, which was penned by University of Johannesburg vice-chancellor Professor Njabulo Ndebele and poet Antjie Krog. These new compositions were performed by candidates in the intermediate and final rounds.

Prof Ndebele was also the keynote speaker on the night, at an event attended by the arts world’s glitterati. In welcoming him, SAMRO Foundation managing director André le Roux expressed his fervent hope that the positive vision laid out in the NDP roadmap would reach fruition with the help and inclusion of the arts community.

Having progressed through from Thursday’s intermediate round, in which 12 semi-finalists competed, the four singers gave it their all during the finals.

While performing their own choice of repertoire as well as the prescribed commissioned works (the jazz number Connected by Wyatt and the Western Art song Dream of a Rainbow by Jankowitz), they pulled out all the vocal stops to impress the adjudicators.

The high-level judging panel, chaired by Leon van Wyk, included two dual-genre panellists, Karendra Devroop and Sibongile Khumalo. They were joined by Western Art music adjudicators Eugenie Chopin, Lize Coetzer, Conroy Cupido, Hanna van Niekerk and Thami Zungu; and jazz adjudicators Gloria Bosman, Motsumi Makhene, Sibongile Mngoma, Nicky Schrire and Lydia vom Hagen.

The audience were also afforded the rare privilege of hearing two original Gerard Sekoto jazz compositions, Africa and Igoli, arranged by Bassingthwaighte and performed by the TUT Big Band and singer Shaun Jacobs. These songs are among several written while the artist was in exile in Paris.

Furthermore, an exhibition and sale of limited-edition Sekoto prints and posters, to celebrate the Gerard Sekoto Foundation’s partnership with the SAMRO Foundation, proved a roaring success.

In addition to the two overseas scholarships, a number of merit and subsidiary awards were handed out to outstanding finalists and semi-finalists, including Khanyiso Gwenxane, Mikhaela Kruger, Nombuso Ndlandla, Makudupanyane Senaoana and Amy Walton. The two runners-up each received R70 000 (also increased from prior awards of R40 000), bringing the total prize money to over R500 000 – a handsome investment in music education to link with the ideals set out in the NDP.


The 12th annual Moshito Music Conference and Exhibition is set to take place from 10 – 12 September 2015.

Under the theme ‘From Kwela to Hop: the Great South Africa Song Book’, with a stimulating conference programme, expanded expo section and plenty of live events, the conference again promises to be the music industry’s largest gathering. Moshito will continue with the newly introduced film and photographic exhibition to crystallise its theme, focusing on the evolution of the country’s musical heritage from Kwela music which started in the 1950s to Hip-Hop, a post-apartheid addition to the music landscape.

Day 1 of the conference will be succeeded by an opening concert at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) head offices, M1 studios followed by the after party at the Johannesburg, Bassline – Ragga Nights hosted by Admiral and Jah Seed.

Day 2 of the conferences will shift to the Braamfontein precinct at The OrbitJazz Club and spilling over to Bistro, the Great Dane, Kitchener’s Carvery and Bannister Hotel.

One of the outstanding programmes at this year’s conference is a Demo Presentation focus, which is aimed at giving up and coming talents the opportunity to be heard and critiqued by industry executives, while standing a chance to win to kick-starting the artist’s career worth R20 000.

Moshito will close the conference with its debut festival on 12 September 2015 at Newtown Park. The festival will showcase South Africa’s music heritage with genres ranging from kwela, Afro-trad/pop, gospel, ragga /reggae, kwaito and hip hop. The festival will feature performances by kwaito legends collaborating with contemporary hip hop artists.

In 2014 Moshito has managed to establish partnerships with international music markets such as the Atlantic Music Expo in Cape Verde and Doa Doa Music Market in East Africa, the Chinese Musicians Association, and this year it will add Musica Minas from Brazil as its new partner.

This year, Moshito will be bringing internationally acclaimed artists from Reunion Islands: Maya Kamaty, India: Maru Tarang “Ripples of the Desert” who play indigenous instruments, United Kingdom: Dj Scratchy and Mungo’s Hi Fi, and Cabo Verde: Chachi Carvalho and Karol Conka.

Certainly, Moshito Conference is a place where music meets business and business creates opportunities.


Planning a music tour but unsure how to fund it? Apply to Concerts SA’s Music Mobility Fund, which will select new projects to support in October

This tour funding mechanism offers opportunities for professional South African musicians to undertake live music-related projects in South Africa as well as other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries. This includes live music performances, collaborations and workshops.

Following the success of the first round of funding for 2015 in April, applications are now open for the second iteration of Music Mobility Fund disbursements for the year. The deadline for submissions is Monday 5 October 2015, and tours should take place between October 2015 and end April 2016.

Designed to help musicians, music industry professionals and organisations build on already established domestic success and develop connections, markets and audiences for their work, the fund provides support towards travel and transportation, as well as per diems, material costs (hiring of backline and sound equipment), accommodation and visas.

If you want to apply, check the rules and download the forms on



Check out the spring edition of the SAMRO SA Gig Guide . Let’s usher in the new season in style.

Brian McKnight Live – The Sequel

Venue: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban – Kwazulu-Natal

Date: 16 September

Venue: Grand Arena, Grand West, Cape Town – Western Cape

Date: 17 September


Venue: Carnival City, Festival Lawns, Johannesburg And Reef – Gauteng

Date: 19 September

Fee: R200


Tropika Vaal Beach Experience

Venue: Dickinson Park, Vereeniging – Dickenson Park

Date: 05 September

Fee: R150 and R200


Phalaphala FM Royal Heritage Festival

Venue: Royal Gardens, Thohoyandou

Date: 12 September

Fee: R150


Stay Fresh Saturday – Cape Town

Venue: Shimmy Beach Club

Date: 05 September

Fee: R120 – 280


Standard Bank Joy Of Jazz 2015 – Johannesburg

Venue: Sandton Convention Centre

Date: 24 September

Fee: R500 – 1250


Krankdup Festival 2015

Venue: Sundowners, Alberton

Date: 26 September

Fee: R350


Emalahleni Spring Splash Jazz

Venue: Witbank Dam

Date: 27 September

Fee: R300 – R1200


Mi Casa Home Sweet Home Concert

Venue: Grand West – Cape Town

Date: 04 September

Fee: R150


Polokwane Beach Festival

Venue: Polokwane Rugby Fields

Date: 05 September

Fee: R100 – R1000 (VIP)


BOM Gospel Festival

Venue: Buffalo City Stadium

Date: 27 September

Fee: R150 – R700 (VIP)


iRock Limpopo Music Festival

Venue: Polokwane Rugby Fields

Date: 26 September

Fee: R150 – R650 (VIP)


Moshito Festival

Venue: Newtown Park – Newtown Precinct

Date: 12 September

Fee: R120

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