Singers, instrumentalists, writers, producers and other professionals in the music industry could be losing out on thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of rands in royalties due to them if they don’t have a proactive and smart approach to royalty monitoring and management.
Music Audit Usage System (MAUStrack) co-creator, DJ and producer Mark Stent, says that one artist – a singer who has requested to remain anonymous - recently received more than R400 000 due to them by using Radiomonitor, the platform at the heart of MAUStrack.
Radiomonitor tracks more than 190 radio and TV stations in South Africa, as well as thousands of others across 120 countries globally, and aims to assist labels, publishers, artists, composers and Collective Management Organisations (CMOs), or Performing Rights Organisations / Performing Rights Societies as they’re mostly called in South Africa. A CMO is a Collective Management Organisation such as SAMRO, SAMPRA and CAPASSO.
“MAUStrack is an easy-to-use but powerful interface – conceptualised by myself, Jarrod Assenheim from Radiomonitor and David Gresham Records, that draws on Radiomonitor’s data. It then presents this data in an easily interpretable format, making it super straight-forward for even the most inexperienced artists to track royalties due,” says Stent.
“From there, artists and other contributors can use MAUStrack’s partners to claim what is owed to them.”
Assenheim highlights that it’s important to note exactly what royalties the various CMOs collect and to ensure you are a member of each.
“Sure, some might consider it a bit of a slog to register, but membership is free and it’ll be well worth your while if your songs are getting airplay,” says Assenheim.
Stent and Assenheim highlight some of the key South African CMOs and their roles:
- SAMRO: Focused on performance royalties that include radio and TV airplay.
This is for composers and publishers. If you’ve written or co-written a song or melody, you get paid in accordance with your agreement with your co-writers. Every time your music is played on a licensed station, you will get paid. Usage rates vary widely, from around R15 a spin to R300 a spin on the larger stations.
It's important to note that some stations are unlicensed, or don’t make enough advertising revenue to pay a license fee, so this could mean you’ll get no remuneration even if your song is played.
- SAMPRA: Focused on neighbouring rights or “needle time".
They pay the label, the singer and musicians who played on the track. The label typically takes half of the fee and the balance is split between the featured artists (mostly singers) and non-featured artists (mostly musos). The number of stations in the SAMPRA pool is relatively small.
- CAPASSO: Focused on mechanical royalties.
Each time your music is transferred to a new, licensed medium, you get paid a royalty fee. I.e., if your song gets used in a TV show, you get paid for when the audio track is transferred to the video.
Stent and Assenheim point out that there are two other CMOs - RAV (RISA Audio Visual), that collects for music videos on TV, and IMPRA that collects neighbouring rights – that are well worth looking into after signing up for the first three.
A key factor in a smart approach to royalties is accurately capturing metadata, which is critical in getting paid correctly. It’s also crucial to always include this metadata when submitting music to any radio, TV or other platforms.
MAUStrack also provides and easy interface to register your music with CMOs and accurately capture metadata, including:
- Artist Name
- Featured Artist(s)
- ISRC Code
- Label Name
- Release Date
- Publishers and
- Country of Origin
The application also allows users to formally capture profit splits – which can only be modified based on mutual agreement using the system, helping them to ensure that they get paid fairly as agreed.
“Success in the South African music industry depends in a large part on how creative, innovative, appealing and busy you are as an artist, but it definitely doesn’t end there,” Stent concludes,
“If you do your homework thoroughly, cross the Ts and dot the Is in every bit of admin that you do or every agreement you sign and invest in cutting-edge tools to monitor what is due to you, you could earn a substantial, steady income stream from your art.”