Licensed to Play August 2012


Not all music users utilise the same quantity of music, or in the same way. Therefore, it follows that a commercial music radio station will not pay the same licence fee to SAMRO as a small hairdressing salon that has the radio playing in the background for its customers’ enjoyment.

Therefore, in this month’s newsletter, we’ll be explaining more about how SAMRO determines the various tariffs payable by different music users. By way of example, we’ll be looking at Emperors Palace and which aspects of its business require a licence, and also profiling one of the entertainers and SAMRO members who performs regularly at the venue: the flamboyant and fabulous Nataniël.

Exciting news is that soon our licensees will be able to interact with SAMRO via a new web portal, and we bring you details on the systems upgrade that is making this innovation possible.

Would you like to have your business profiled in a future newsletter? Please feel free to contact us to enquire – regardless of the size or nature of your business, we’d love to hear from you!

Yours in music,

Kgomotso Mosenogi
Marketing and Communications Manager: SAMRO


You may be the landlord of a multi-storey shopping mall that plays background music, or own a small neighbourhood pub where the occasional muso drops in to play cover versions on his guitar. So will you both be required to pay the same music licence fee to SAMRO? The answer is no – SAMRO has different tariffs that take into account the nature, size and scope of your business.

As SAMRO Regional Sales Manager Alan Gustafson explains, SAMRO has 53 tariffs that have been developed to address the differences in music usage in various types of premises. Once a SAMRO relationship consultant arrives to conduct a site inspection, he or she will start to identify which of these tariffs will be applicable for that particular venue’s music usage.

If one uses Emperors Palace (read more about this entertainment emporium elsewhere in the newsletter) as a case study, upon entering the premises the visitor is met with background music being played in the common areas.

Plus, there are restaurants, shops, cinemas, function rooms, hotels, theatres and other live entertainment venues. Look a bit further and you’ll also start noticing the “unseen” music usage, such as that played to telephone callers while on hold, in staff canteens and through diffusion.

So there are several elements that will have to be taken into account when working out a tailor-made tariff. Says Gustafson, by way of example: “The background music that you observed in the common area will require the calculation of total square metres of these areas to help with the fee costing. The restaurants that were observed have chairs and tables. Here, we take the seating capacity and charge per seat per year.”

So, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to determining a venue’s SAMRO music usage licence. Why not contact us at to chat to us about your business’s individual needs?

Since its inception in 1999, Emperors Palace has not only blossomed into one of South Africa’s premier entertainment venues – it has also been setting an example to all other businesses that benefit from various musicians’ works by being a fully-fledged SAMRO licensee.

What aspects of Emperors Palace’s business require a SAMRO music usage licence? “Just about all aspects of our operations, from the general public areas that include the walkways to the casino gaming floor, the restaurants as well as the live music venues and the conferencing facilities,” says Vusi Zwane,Corporate Affairs & CSI Executive at Peermont.

He says that besides the possibility of facing legal action for non-compliance, taking out a licence with SAMRO is definitely the correct thing to do as a responsible South African business. “Plus, it is reasonable to expect that artists should benefit when their work is broadcast to a general audience, therefore earning them Performance Rights royalties.

“In addition, it feels great to know that we are assisting local and international composers and songwriters to earn a living through their original music works. This also means that they have an incentive to continue making more and exponentially better music, which results in them elevating their creative efforts,” he notes.

People frequent Emperors Palace to be entertained and perhaps to strike it rich, and the Zwane firmly believes that background and live music adds value to the business by contributing to the venue’s overall appeal and ambience.

“Music has a huge impact on the business, as it helps to create a pleasant atmosphere. We play appropriate genres of music at fitting times and it enhances the clients’ experience. These are people from all cultures, creeds and age groups of our rainbow nation. Music helps us to consider every single one of our guests and to make them feel appreciated,” explains Zwane

Visit to find out more.

Photo of Vusi Zwane with Carol Tshabalala courtesy of Peermont


He’s a singer, songwriter, entertainer and businessman extraordinaire. He’s Nataniël, who during his more than 25 years in the spotlight has gone from being a cabaret singer in small, seedy clubs to a national celebrity – not to mention a respected brand.

Having staged more than 60 shows during his remarkable career, he has become a massive drawcard at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, where every year he enjoys a month-long “residency” at the Theatre of Marcellus with a new, original large-scale show. It’s a win-win relationship from which both parties benefit.

But more than that, Nataniël is the perfect example of an entrepreneurial musician who is mindful of the “business” aspect of show business, and who takes the time and care to make his creative output work for him.

Besides composing, recording and performing original music, he runs a chain of stores selling his Kaalkop range of lifestyle products; writes books, short stories and columns; and endorses food products for a leading national supermarket chain. He is a humanitarian who is an ambassador for Child Welfare, as well as a respected commentator and style guru – and a shining example of how to succeed as an independent entertainer in South Africa.

His unique selling point is, arguably, his individuality in an industry that is filled with copycats. And, of course, let’s not forget about his ability to identify and capitalise on a variety of revenue streams.

He recently revealed the simple secret to his success to the Sunday Times: “If you work, you’ll succeed. People are scared of work. Many South African artists are lazy. I see these so-called celebrities in borrowed clothes attending all these opening nights – they’re all over the social pages – and I think: ‘When do you get the time to do it?’

“Success comes down to stamina and endurance. My first 10 years [in show business] was a living hell; I would cut up duvets to make costumes. But I never gave up – I was determined that I would do it, or die trying.”

More than a quarter of a century later, the bald-headed, sometimes outrageous, always interesting Nataniël is still doing what he loves – while setting an example to other creative souls that it is possible to be an artist without starving in the gutter.

Photo courtesy of Emperor’s Palace


By the end of January, SAMRO will have a brand-new set of business systems in place to make it far simpler for members, licensees and the public to interact with the organisation.

The ambitious Apollo 12S project is, says Ian Napier, SAMRO’s General Manager: Information Management and Services, “one of the most significant undertakings that SAMRO has ever attempted since its founding”.

The project entails the replacement of most of SAMRO’s existing information technology and business administration systems with a more modern equivalent equipped to cater for the changing needs of the organisation.

It will be able to administer most aspects of the business, from financial management to invoicing and distributions. In addition, it features a web portal that will provide members and licensees with convenient online access to a variety of functions.

The web portal will make it possible for music users to submit usage returns, obtain licence quotations, apply for a licence, view key correspondence and so on – all via the internet.

Migration from the old system to the new system should be complete by year-end, and it is envisaged that the new system will be up and running from January 2013.

The installation of the new system, adds Napier, fits hand in glove with SAMRO’s repositioning as a copyright asset management business, because “we need a system that can support us to function at that level. Such a system must be agile, adaptable and flexible enough and meet our changing needs, in order for us to be as customer-focused as possible.”

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