This form of broadcasting is defined as the transmission of content, often including music, to a certain targeted section of the public – such as the music you hear in the supermarket or at the mall.
“Usually transmitted via satellite or the internet to a restricted audience, such in-store or in-house radio stations do not require an ICASA licence. But users do need to obtain a licence from SAMRO, authorising them to use SAMRO members’ music,” explains Keitumetse Setshedi, SAMRO’s Broadcasting and Online Transmissions Manager.
“A narrowcaster can be used for any venue, even hospitals, schools, taxi ranks or airports, as the concept is just about relaying a signal to a specific target audience,” she adds. “However, it is worth noting that for instance an airport or taxi rank can ‘broadcast’ some content through its PA system, not as a narrowcaster but merely playing pre-recorded content aired from its offices.”
“Narrowcasting is yet another avenue for SAMRO members to reap the rewards for their creative output whenever their music is used publicly. And for businesses, the benefit is that the music creates a certain feel or ambience,” explains Setshedi. “That then adds value for the business as this is enjoyed by the target market, and it makes the audience stay longer – for instance, at a restaurant – and keep coming back.”
Adds Xolani Zulu, the Accounts Executive for Mechanical Rights at SAMRO: “This is becoming a popular form of marketing by retailers. They use customer demographics to select the type of music played in specific areas at specific times of the day.”
According to Zulu, the arrival of digital music and online streaming has created new challenges, with many more players entering the industry. New technology has made commercial music more “freely” available and is posing additional licence compliance challenges – while also opening up opportunities – for SAMRO.
“Narrowcasters know that they need to be licensed, but unfortunately a number of our clients assume that all narrowcasters are compliant, which is not always the case. However, the SAMRO Sales Department is actively addressing this challenge,” says Zulu.
To keep abreast of the huge volume of licensed music used in this way, SAMRO collects playlists and cue sheets from all licensees. This allows the organisation to track music usage and perform statistical analyses to determine the appropriate licence fees, which will ultimately be passed on to the music creators as royalty income.
“Digital media is much more accurate when it comes to reporting, so this is going to be an advantage going forward. We collect market intelligence and receive information from members whose music is played by some of the narrowcasters. In some cases we conduct cold-calling exercises to investigate the use of rights-protected music,” Zulu adds.