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What are the standard music royalty rates in South Africa?

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The local standard percentage for an artist and publisher of a song owned on royalties is four percent for each time the song is played.

In 2016, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) was run under the leadership of contentious Chief Operating Officer (COO), Hlaudi Motsoeneng. At the time of his leadership, Motsoeneng believed in reinvigorating the local entertainment industry by introducing the 90 percent local content initiative. The aim of the initiative was to eventually have a country which has a 90 percent local content mandate.

During this time, Motsoeneng was focused on aiding local artists, including musicians. Therefore, he changed the percentage of the royalties paid by the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) from 3.2 percent to 4 percent. The intention was to see more income going to the musicians. Motsoaneng believed the increase would raise the revenue earned by artists, no matter how slight the increase.

The Kiffness, who is one of the artists who advocates for musicians to understand the backend of the industry, created a page which has him detailing the estimated prices. Moreover, he details steps to follow in order to avoid being shortchanged on how much to request from SAMRO. Detailing in figures how much one can get paid for their song playing on radio, the musician explains:

“Having your music on radio can earn you a great passive income. Every time your song plays on radio, you are owed a publishing royalty. SAMRO collects those royalties from radio stations & pays them to the people who wrote the song. One spin of your song on a prominent station like Kfm or 947 can fetch anywhere from R60 to R200. I noticed that I had one spin on Metro FM which paid R450, probably one of the highest paying station in the country. Unfortunately smaller stations & community stations don’t pay as well due to smaller listenership or smaller advertising income.”

Additionally, he stipulates the steps to ensure that one is not easily scammed as the five rules, including one needs to be a SAMRO member, one needs to get access to their SAMRO portal, one needs to register their songs and their splits correctly, one needs to become a member of RadioMonitor, and lastly, one needs to check that their SAMRO statements correlate with their RadioMonitor statements.

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