By CityLife Arts Writer
In a bid to drum up support for its artists, the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) is appealing to South Africa’s big corporates to book exclusive online performances for staff working from home.
SAMRO chairperson Nicholas Maweni says that South Africans are living in difficult times with the country again under stricter COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and greater economic uncertainty looming.
“As we try to curb the spread of the virus, many South Africans have been forced to work from home. While some people have embraced this, others feel lonely, stressed and isolated from having to work alone,” says Maweni.
“To lift the morale of their employees and provide them with some quality entertainment, we are calling on companies and organisations to book online performances by our members, or concerts featuring their work.”
Maweni says that once a performance is booked, it will be exclusively streamed to a group of employees that have been invited by the company.
“While this would be a great way to entertain people who often have to spend many hours of their day alone, in front of their laptops, it is also an initiative to help artists who have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions that have now been in place for more than a year.”
The arts and culture sector has been one of the hardest hit in the country, as measures to curb the spread of the pandemic include a ban on all live performances. This has been a particularly hard blow for SAMRO members.
“While royalties earned from the use of their work continue to trickle in, the lion’s share of our members’ earnings come from live performances. You can only imagine what a devastating effect this ban has had on most of our members,” Maweni explains.
SAMRO’s primary role is to administer performing rights on behalf of its members – typically composers and authors. The organisation does this by licensing music users (such as television and radio broadcasters, live music venues, retailers, restaurants, promoters and shopping centres), through the collection of licence fees which are then distributed as royalties.
Maweni says that the support of corporate South Africa would go a long way to assist SAMRO to support its members and help to keep the South African music industry alive.
“Many artists are really struggling at this time and it is our duty as SAMRO to protect their rights and ensure their ultimate survival. While we are appealing for help from the corporate sector, we’re not merely asking for a handout. In return for their participation, corporates will get access to some of the country’s top musical talent and performances of great original compositions,” adds Maweni.
He explains that this initiative is yet another example of how SAMRO is working hard to serve its members and support them during times of difficulty.
“We will continue to rollout initiatives to assist our members to earn a decent living. As an innovative and forward-thinking organisation, SAMRO is constantly seeking ways to create value for our artists,” said Maweni.