Music publishing is without a doubt the most important aspect about the business of music in South Africa just like it is in other different parts of the world.

Now briefly speaking the main sources of income covered by music publishing rights consists of mechanical royalties, performance royalties and finally synchronization licenses.

In South Africa artists also have the choice to either administer their music publishing copyrights independently by themselves or engage music publishing companies or agencies for co-publishing agreements.

Who Collects Music Publishing Royalties in South Africa?

Before we dive into the subject of music publishing collection in South Africa we first have to address the perspective from which we are looking at this from.

Some South African artists have deals with prominent music publishing companies such Universal Music Group, Sony Music, while some South African artists are totally independent without major record label affiliations. So you see the issue we have at hand don’t you?

If an artist has a music publishing deal with either Universal Music Publishing South Africa or Sony Music Publishing South Africa chances are all the music publishing administration we be handled on the artist’s behalf.

However, if an artist is independent and they release music they have to decide whether they are going to set up their own music publishing company in South Africa or to enter in an agreement with local music publishing companies or agencies for publishing administration.

1) Sync Licences & Performance Royalty Collection in South Africa:

For instance, in the United States you have got ASCAP and BMI which are basically Performance Rights Organisations (PROs) that are responsible for collecting public performance royalties from sources such as:

  • Commercial Radio Stations
  • Clubs, Pubs & Concerts
  • Television Networks
  • Streaming Services (e.g YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music e.t.c)

Likewise, in South Africa you have got SA Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) and SA Music Performance Rights Association (SAMPRA) which are essentially Performance Rights Organisations with similarity to ASCAP or BMI.

So just like an American artist would register with ASCAP as a member. The same is true for a South African artist except in this case they will be registering with either SAMRO or SAMPRA.

2) Mechanical Royalty Collection in South Africa:

Please note, mechanical royalties are derived from the manufacture and the sale of physical CDs or digital downloads e.t.c

Now if an artist is signed to a major record label there is a general convention that the record label is suppose to pay the artist all the due mechanical royalties to the music publishing company the artist has an agreement with.

But since record companies such as Universal Music Group and Sony Music operate in both sides of the business there is a possibility that the artist will also be affiliated the music publishing division of these major record labels. This means the artist doesn’t necessarily need to set up their own music publishing company to be paid mechanical royalties depending on the record contract signed.

On the other hand, if the artist is signed to an independent record label which doesn’t have a music publishing division then that artist has to set up their own music publishing company. That’s because when the independent record label sells music whether CDs or Digital Downloads. The artist will be entitled to a statutory mechanical royalty for every single or album sold in South Africa.

Nonetheless, just like in America you have the Harry Fox Agency, but in South Africa there are mechanical royalty collection agencies such as CAPASSO which act on behalf of composers and music publishing companies to handle all matters relating to mechanical royalty licensing.

Related Links: