Licensed to Play October 2013

Dear SAMRO Music User

We hear their familiar melodies repeatedly, sometimes every day, cueing in our favourite television shows. Yet have we ever paused to wonder how the theme tunes for soapies and other programmes earn money for the composers who create them?

This month we take a closer look at how the licensing process works in relation to the signature music composed for television shows. We also learn how a broadcaster’s SAMRO licence fee is used to pay Performing Rights royalties to the music creators who compose these much-loved soundtracks to our lives.

In addition, we profile Johannesburg landmark and SAMRO licensee the Market Theatre, and find out how one entertainment complex can hold a bouquet of different music usage licences.

If you missed Notes 2 Notes, the fascinating commemorative documentary made to celebrate SAMRO’s 50 years of making musical memories, the good news is that it is now available online.

And great news for the fight against music piracy is that SAMRO has teamed up with the South African Federation Against Copyright Theft to produce free anti-piracy booklets educating the public about how the illegal copying and sharing of music harms the local industry.

Do you have any comments or suggestions? Would you like to be profiled in a future newsletter? Please contact us at – we look forward to your ideas for possible inclusion in Licensed to Play


Yours in music,

Tiyani Maluleke

General Manager: Marketing 


The Market Theatre in Johannesburg’s cultural hub of Newtown is an iconic building and a bastion of struggle theatre, but is also a long-standing SAMRO licensee.

The Market Theatre was established in 1976 by theatre pioneers Mannie Manim and the late Barney Simon, occupying the shell of the old Indian Fruit Market, which was built in 1913. This means that 2013 marks the centenary of the Market Theatre building, which is now a protected heritage site.

The theatre quickly established an outstanding reputation locally and globally as a platform for daring, cutting-edge plays that challenged the oppressive apartheid status quo.

Today the complex remains as vibrant as ever, staging award-winning plays and keeping its founding fathers’ flame of courageous theatremaking burning brightly. It recently underwent an extensive multi-million-rand upgrade, thanks to funding from the Department of Arts and Culture.

As with similar entertainment complexes, the building houses a number of venues where music is performed live or where recorded music is played, in addition to the dramatic performances that take place. Music greats such as Sibongile Khumalo and Hugh Masekela have performed there.

As a SAMRO licensee, the theatre has long provided a revenue stream for South African musicians, who either perform there or whose music is used inside the venues in a multitude of ways.

The Market Theatre’s Motlalepule Makhate explains that the complex holds SAMRO licences to use copyrighted music for the following purposes: music that is played to callers on hold, venue music and curtain music (music played before and after performances, and between acts). The licences are renewed every year.

But the theatre’s responsibility does not end there. “When we have live performances, the managers of the artists have to submit live performance returns to SAMRO, since most of the musicians who perform at the Market are SAMRO members,” explains Makhate.

“We supply them with the relevant SAMRO forms, which they fill in, listing the songs performed, and submit them to SAMRO.” This information enables SAMRO to calculate the Performing Rights royalties owing to the creators of the music performed in public at the theatre.

Visit to find out more about the theatre’s line-up.


Every time you watch your favourite local soapie, sitcom, drama series or even news bulletin, Performing Rights royalties are being earned for the people who composed the theme music – from for the opening sequence and incidental music right through to th

This will also be the case with the new Generations signature music, composed by District Six-born Trevor Jones, one of the country’s most illustrious music exports.

Keitumetse Setshedi, Broadcasting and Online Transmissions Manager at SAMRO, comments on the SABC’s licence agreement with SAMRO as it relates to Generations’ new theme music: “With respect to Performing Rights, SAMRO issues a blanket licence to the broadcaster for the music that will be broadcast on each channel for the duration of the agreement. Only one licence is needed and it is valid for the duration of the time that the channel uses the music as part of its content.”

She explains how royalties accrue within the licensing agreement: “The (blanket) licence for the SABC is based, and billed, on a percentage of the revenue that the public broadcaster generates monthly. The SABC provides SAMRO with programme returns and cue sheets that reflect the music (and the duration thereof) that was broadcast on each licensed channel during that month.

“After subtracting administration fees, the fees received from a particular channel are then allocated to all the music that was broadcast on that channel. Royalties are distributed based on how long and how frequently the musical works in question were broadcast.”

For a soapie such as Generations that is aired from Monday to Friday, as well as the repeats, such extensive broadcast time could translate into significant royalties accruing to the composer of its signature music.


To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the longest-running and most-watched soap opera in South African television history, the creators of Generations invited Trevor Jones, one of South Africa’s finest musical exports, to write and record an original piece

Jones, an acclaimed orchestral film score composer and the recipient of a Breaking Through the Borders Award at the recent Wawela Music Awards, has had his compositions used in the South African drama series Jozi H and in international box-office movie hits such as Notting Hill, Angel Heart, The Last of the Mohicans, GI Jane and Around the World in 80 Days.

After receiving a call from Generations creator Mfundi Vundla in late July, he immediately set to work creating what will surely become a recognisable refrain for this evergreen soapie.

“Collaborating on a piece of music for a soap opera as successful as Generations meant I had to find a way to do justice to a show that mirrors popular society as well as it does. The music runs in tandem with the energies and aspirations that are synonymous with South Africa,” says Jones.

After spending time with head writer Bongi Ndaba and watching clips of the show, Jones wrote, scored and produced such a compelling piece of music that finding the right performer to complement it was imperative. And immediately Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse came to mind.

“His contribution here is nothing short of inspired!” says Jones. “He has a distinctive way of playing, and you can hear his signature saxophone from the opening bars of the piece.” Of Jones, Hotstix says: “I knew who Trevor was, and have always been in awe of his work.”

On 26 September 2013, the millions of South Africans who regularly tune in from for their daily dose of Generations were greeted by the new, original and beautifully orchestrated and produced signature theme music featuring the legendary Hotstix on saxophone – 45 seconds of sheer music magic, going out to some 4.9 million viewers daily.

Check out Generations on SABC1, airing on weekdays at 8pm. Visit or check out /GenerationsTVShow on Facebook for more information.


As a SAMRO licensee, you obey the law when it comes to paying for the music you use – so why should music pirates get away with illegally copying, selling or transmitting music?

Music piracy remains one of the most serious issues facing the local and global music industry. This is why SAMRO, in conjunction with the South African Federation Against Copyright Theft, has produced free booklets to educate the South African public about the dangers of music piracy and how it affects composers and recording artists.

Although music piracy is often seen as a “victimless crime”, the truth is that it is quite the opposite.

Whenever an illegal copy is made of a recording, either physically or digitally, or when music is shared without remuneration, it affects the livelihoods of established composers, authors and recording artists. It also has a chilling effect on the ability of up-and-coming musicians to carve out a career from their creativity.

And the ripple effect doesn’t end there: music piracy also affects other players in the music value chain, including record companies, studio producers, sound engineers and music retailers.

Music piracy is not only unethical – it is illegal. Copying or sharing music without paying for it constitutes copyright infringement, which is prohibited in terms of the Copyright Act of 1978.

We invite you to download and read these free booklets, which are available on our website at Join us in the global fight against music piracy!


In 2011 SAMRO celebrated 50 years of managing composers’ creative assets, and the company’s eventful journey to where it is today is traced in a documentary, Notes 2 Notes, which can now be viewed online.

The fascinating documentary aired on SABC 1 in September, to much acclaim. It is now available for viewing on SAMRO’s YouTube channel and website for those who missed it on television.

The 48-minute special explores the company’s history, from its modest beginnings in 1961 to the influential collecting society it is today. Told through interviews with major industry players, including composers and others in the music value chain, SAMRO’s story is presented in context with the development of contemporary music in the country.

The documentary also provides illuminating insights into how licensing monies are translated into royalties that ultimately benefit an array of the country’s music creators and enable them to continue creating the music that enriches all our lives.

Click here to view the Notes 2 Notes documentary.

Facebook + Twitter Feeds